The Best Footing for Barrel Racing Horses
Many times we are asked what the best way to keep the horses healthy and provide a competitive advantage for barrel racing. So much depends on good footing, especially for barrel horse racing. Having the right footing is crucial for promoting the utmost safety of the horse and the rider during the race.
Barrel racing is characterized by fast movements, challenging accelerations and explosive turns. The wrong footing can cause a slip or can be injurious to the horse. With this, a good arena footing is highly required during the race. This will ensure the safety of both the horse and its rider, to avoid unnecessary injuries.
The tried and tired footing additives
There is no hard-and-fast rule on what really is a perfect riding ground. But standard-wise, a good riding ground must provide the right traction, firmness and cushion. It must not be too dusty, overly abrasive or slick. It also helps if it is easier and cheaper to maintain.
The usual footing materials used are quarried inorganic materials such as road base mix, gravel, stonedust and sand. They are distributed according to particle sizes and standard adopted nomenclature. The following are the common footing materials used for barrel racing and who would have though the new outperforming footing additive is made from the foam from yoga mats.
This can range from fine sand (0.05mm diameter) to coarse type (2.00mm diameter). Some use sand as it is. However, for barrel racing, it is much better and safer if the sand is combined with other particle sizes, materials or additives such as foam footing. Aside from this, the depth of the sand is also important. The deeper the sand, the looser the traction; which means more stressful to the horse’s tendons. The safer way is to start with about 2 inches of sand, and add ½ inch at a time, only when necessary. This allows you to try and test first before settling for the right depth. But since sand is inorganic and solid, it can erode and become unsuitable over time. Nevertheless, it’s a great footing for horse racing.
Some arenas have wood products as primary footing material. But they work best when they are mixed with other materials for footing. These include coarse sawdust and wood chips. With the right size and amount, they can provide moisture-holding capacity and cushioning, especially when mixed with other materials like sand. The downside of using wood products is that they will eventually become compacted and broken. Since they are organic, they decompose too. This means that you have to replace the older wood every once in a while to maintain the right depth, cushion and firmness.
Small particles of rubber are also used as footing for horse racing. As a general rule, make sure that the rubber is not too bouncy, as it affects the movement and balance of the horse. A good ground rubber is mixed with other surface materials like sand. This ensures better cushion and minimizes compaction. Moreover, because rubbers are dry-looking and darken when placed outdoors, they do not produce glare when hit by the sun. With this, the horse and the rider will be able to see the footing clearly and ride more safely. It was also known to be beneficial during the winter, because the surface thaws faster with rubber, however the slick surface and other rebound properties do not compare to the new foam footing solutions. Also, the material breaks down quickly and requires continual replacement.
Along with sand, stonedust is the most common footing material used in any horse racing. It drains well and provides better stability for the horse . If well-maintained and kept watered, stonedust surface can be highly attractive. It is more suitable for race when kept damp. But of the common footing materials used, stonedust requires more management and maintenance.
New Footing Additive
The surface achieves a better status when foam footing material is added. With Foam Footing, you will be able to achieve the perfect arena footing for barrel racing. Now the next thing to focus on is to enjoy the training as much as your horses are enjoying their new found feet. The yoga foam footing material is much different than rubber and provides benefits other footing additives cannot touch. It is resilient in the harsh summers of the Arizona and Mexico deserts, to the frozen riding arenas in the winter in Calgary, New York or Chicago.