Why are we talking about what it is rather than the best footing for dressage? Sometimes we forget the history and roots of the sport. Footing has advanced dramatically over the years, and while there are many options available, we want to start with the beginnings as a reminder of the long tradition in dressage, and the types of athleticism required for training.
The word “dressage” is derived from the French word, dresseur, which means “to train.” To better understand dressage, think of it as a way of training the horse. The main objective of the training is both for the horse and the rider to work harmoniously together. In dressage, the horse is taught to perform fluid movements. The horse’s mental and physical ability are developed, in order for it to become attentive, supple, keen, confident and powerful.
A well-trained dressage horse will be able to have the harmonious movement, physical ability, and mental discipline to perform elastic and regular gaits. The gaits include the canter, trots, and walk. The horse should be able to perform these flawlessly, fluidly and effortlessly. On top of these, the happiness and overall well-being of the horse are of paramount important in dressage.
The Horse and the Dressage Rider
As already said, the goal of dressage is both for the horse and the rider. Sometimes it is the rider that trains the horse. Other times, it’s the other way around. But the best thing is for the two to work together, to learn from each other, to get to know each other better, and to develop a special horse-rider bond.
For a start, the rider must learn to sit comfortably and confidently in the saddle. He needs to use his hands, legs, and weight well to achieve that unique balance. The whole process is long. It takes time for the horse and rider to get to know each other well and develop that special bond of understanding and trust. But once that trust has been developed, the outcome is simply superb.
Footing Options for Dressage Arenas
Aside from the rider and the horse, the footing plays a huge part in the horse and rider connection in dressage. Having the right footing is important not only for the training of the horse, but also for its safety. Using the right consistent footing avoids unnecessary injury and is highly beneficial to the physical and mental health of the horse and the rider.
The most common options of base footing for dressage include sand, stonedust, and wood products.
Sand works fine for dressage, especially when it is mixed with other sand of different particle size or some other footing materials. If the depth is right, sand can have the right traction needed for dressage. However, the downside of using sand footing is that can easily get eroded and become unsuitable for the horse over time. If you don’t get the right depth, it might put the horse’s safety in jeopardy, particularly during challenging movements and turns.
Another common footing option for dressage is stonedust. This material provides great stability for the horse during its movements. It also looks attractive outdoors. But the problem with this kind of footing is that it requires more maintenance and management, which means it could be costly in the long run. Moreover, in order for it to function better, you need to keep watering it. It’s a challenging kind of footing.
There are dressage arenas that use wood products as footing. These materials function well when mixed with other materials. If the right amount of wood chips and coarse sawdust are mixed, then this footing can provide great cushion and superb moisture-holding capacity. But since wood products are organic, they decompose fast and eventually get broken and compacted, hence, unusable. They require high and frequent maintenance to keep the right firmness, cushion and depth.
Advantages of Foam Footing
When it comes to footing additive for dressing, foam footing is something every rider or arena owner must consider. This footing additive provides the right cushion, grip and firmness, necessary for the safety and development of the horse.
Foam footing provides the right amount of cushion. With it, the horse can perform and train better with reduced risk of injury. The right cushion is necessary for absorbing concussion, which means that it is highly comfortably and safe for both the horse and the rider. It depends and reduces the maximum horse as the horse puts all its weight on its legs. The improved cushion promotes longevity of the horse’s joint tissues and allows less strain in its feet and legs. As a result, it extends the horse’s stamina and endurance.
Right Firmness with a Lessened Impact
Foam footing also lessens impact by providing the right firmness. The footing additive is best for dressage. Adding foam footing to the base footing considerably reduces impact firmness. This means that the footing will provide the right amount of hoof support and stability to the horse. It works by influencing the mechanical shock experienced by your horse as its hoof hits the ground. And lesser impact means reduced risk of injury and better opportunity for the horse to train.
The said additive footing also promotes better grip, which is necessary when the horse’s hoof slides. A great grip is necessary during pushing off, turning and ground impaction. The actual surface friction and the kind of footing materials used play a huge part in maintaining grip. Addition foam footing provides a consistent traction in your arena footing, working like yoga mats.
The Footing and Rider Relationship
Dressage is more than just a sport. It’s a relationship, a special bond between the horse and its rider, a true partnership. Achieving high scores on your individual dressage tests and training to get your horse there, requires a lot of patience, discipline and hard work both from the rider and the horse. In addition, it requires trust and consistency.
Why not offer that same comfort you feel on your bare feet on a plush carpet or running on a foam rubber track, to your horse. With the right footing additive, you obtain a mental and competitive advantage with the reduced risk of injury and a better opportunity for longer periods of training. Make your arena dressage-ready with our Foam Footing.