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Innovative Footing Surface Installed At Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s International Arena Ahead of 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival

By November 8, 2019January 10th, 2020No Comments

Wellington, FL – November 7, 2019 – Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) and managing partner of the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), announced today that Equestrian Sport Productions has completed the installation of a newly engineered riding surface in the International Arena and warm up ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). This innovative footing mixture resides on an OTTO Sport Base Mat system and will provide a safer and more durable surface for both horse and rider.

Horse Arena Construction

The new arena features a custom design of various footing and technologies and materials crafted by the industry’s expert specialists.

PBIEC is one of the premier equestrian venues in the world, hosting 36 weeks of competition throughout the year, including the internationally acclaimed 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) which boasts 11 weeks of FEI Show Jumping competition and 12 weeks of Premier “AA” hunter competition. During the 2019 season alone, more than 51 countries and each of the 50 states were represented throughout the duration of the circuit. WEF is the longest-running and largest horse show in the world. PBIEC exhibitors will compete on the new surface for the first time tomorrow, November 8 at the ESP Fall Series, well ahead of the 2020 WEF season.

“ESP is committed to staying ahead of the technology curve when it comes to footing advancements,” said Bellissimo. “Our partnership is dedicated to providing the best competition environment for both our human and equine athletes.”

In September, ESP assembled a team of five world-class equestrian footing experts. The mission being to design a surface that would protect horse’s joints and minimize tendon damage. The team included Premier Equestrian, Inc., Bart Poels of Poels Equestrian, Bill Hawe of iEquiTek, FEI footing expert Lars Roepstroff, and Travis Gould of JTWG Inc.

“Horse welfare remains the priority during our 12-week circuit,” stated Michael Stone, President of ESP. “The popularity of the venue gave rise to accelerated wear and tear over the last few years. Based on our review and feedback from the riders, we were in agreement that the surface needed total replacement to meet the caliber of competition that we are hosting. In addition, with the World Cup Finals taking place in the US next April, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics running in August, we expect the world’s best riders to bring their top-level horses to WEF this season to prepare and organize their international teams.”
The new arena exhibits an innovative drainage system as well as OTTO Sport Base Mats, available exclusively at Premier Equestrian, Inc. These exceptional mats are manufactured from recycled materials and aid water conservation, concussion mitigation, and stability for both the horse and rider, absorbing up to 40% of the energy caused by the foot fall. The state-of-the-art footing surface is a custom blend, which combines specifically-engineered sands and a balance of fibers and textiles from Premier’s ProTex additive. Carefully designed, crafted, and tested on-site, this footing mixture retains moisture and also offers excellent drainage. Finally, the formula was designed to stabilize the sand, providing horses with superior grip, firmness, cushion, and responsiveness.
The installation included hundreds of hours of specialized testing and design iterations to finalize the footing mixture.Data was compiled by Lars Roepstroff and Bart Poels, an FEI-approved footing consultant, during the 2019 season in order to understand the needs of the arena. “I was here for maintenance [of the International Arena] and my team continuously studied the drainage capacities during WEF,” commented Poels. “Due to Florida’s unique climate and the sheer quantity of horses, the ring could not properly drain. We took several samples, iEquiTek tested them, and then eventually came up with this new custom blend of sand and the Premier ProTex additive.”

Click the image above to see a time-lapse of the installation.

Bill Hawe from iEquiTek commented, “This arena is now one of the very few in the world which has been completely engineered to meet specific performance and maintenance objectives, from the bottom all the way up to the riding surface. Every component was part of the systematic data-driven approach. This represents a new era – Data Defined Riding Surfaces – where one designs to performance criteria, rather than waiting to find out the results after install.” Hawe continued, “Using this methodology, along with numerous measurement technologies and database models of other arenas, the team was able to rapidly design, construct, measure, and evaluate more than 11 different custom footing mixes, in addition to a variety of bases, mats and other components, and then select the one which met their specific goals. The data aligned to include the design measurements, database models, test surface measurement, FEI tests, and rider test ride perceptions.”
Further details regarding the resurfacing of the other arenas and additional improvements at PBIEC will be announced over the coming weeks. To learn more about Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), please visit www.pbiec.com.

Horse Arena Footing Installation

The International Arena’s warm up ring received the same installation process and materials.

Premier Equestrian, Inc. is a leading provider of arena footing textile products, arena base mats, and arena grooming equipment. Established in 2000, Premier has helped thousands of riders improve their arena surfaces. Premier develops and manufactures their own proprietary footing products, dressage arenas and innovative arena groomer designs and is the exclusive North American distributor for OTTO Sport arena mats. Actively engaged in research, Premier also offers educational resources to equestrian organizations, universities, and colleges.

Bill Hawe is the founder of iEquiTek, LLC, a high-technology company, which provides design and measurement services using patent-pending technologies, to the equestrian sport industry, including competition venues, training facilities, high performance riders, arena/farm owners, and footing surface and component manufacturers. The iEquiTek database performs rapid comparisons to many arenas, allowing fast design iteration and optimization for performance and maintenance. Hawe is well known in the high technology industry, having invented 70 patents in many areas spanning 40 years in the industry.

Bart Poels is one of the world’s most renowned footing experts and recognized by the FEI as such. He has contributed to the construction of many of the world’s top competition venues, including the World Equestrian Games, the Olympics, and World Cup Finals.

Lars Roepstroff is a world-renowned researcher of riding surface characteristics. He has published many papers on the topic which are widely cited in the industry. His laboratory in at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences is known for its ongoing contributions. Roepstroffperforms testing of riding arenas for the FEI after they are built, as part of their approval process for all major events such as the Olympic Games, World Championships and Regional Championships.

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