January 2016 - GGT-Footing

A firm foundation for developing horses & riders to their fullest potential.

The Paso Robles Horse Park. The Royal West Horse Show in Calgary. Hipico Santa Fe in New Mexico. Anywhere you turn, it seems there is a new venue and/or horse show opting for GGT-Footing™. And that’s on top of many venues, show organizers and private facilities that have been choosing the German Geo Textile for several years.

Mandy Porter takes first place in the GGT-Footing Grand Prix Series, wins the Rider’s Bonus and won the GGT-Footing Grand Prix Final, presented by California HorseTrader. Photo: ESI Photography

Like the surfaces for all sports, arena footing has been the subject of much scrutiny and evolution over the last few decades. There is a high level of understanding about the connection between footing and horses’ well-being and performance.

That knowledge is increasingly reflected in riding surfaces everywhere on the spectrum, from those used for elite show jumping and dressage competition to daily work for horses and riders of all ability levels. Western pleasure and the new disciplines of western dressage and cowboy dressage are areas of new popularity for GGT-Footing, notes Cynthia Brewster Keating, the company’s national account manager. “They have been very quick to see its benefits.”

While the East Coast establishment currently has a higher concentration of GGT-Footing arenas, that may change with the arrival of the company’s two new products: GGT-Arpolith, a dust control product, and a water-free footing. Both could be a big boon to horse-keepers in drought-stricken California and throughout the West Coast. GGT-Arpolith is a granular material consisting of volcanic rock dust, sands and minerals.  It saves water up to 30 times its own weight. Water is released as the sand dries out.

Overall leading jumper rider perpetual award recipient, Beezie Madden, right, with GGT-Footing’s Catherine Trice and West Palms Events Danielle Ballard.

GGT-Arpolith remains effective in the ground for at least two years, Cynthia continues. Over time, GGT-Arpolith decomposes in the ground, leaving nothing but minerals. Being bio degradable, GGT-Arpolith needs to be replenished every two to three years to stay effective.

GGT-Arpolith has been in use in Germany for many years and is expected to debut in North America this month. It will dramatically reduce the cost of watering the ring for dust control, both the water bill and the labor, time and other costs involved in getting the water where it needs to be.

In the spring, GGT-Footing is due to roll out a water-free footing, a complete footing product that can be shipped by rail or road for easy installation. “It’s perfect for drought areas,” Cynthia says. “The money saved in irrigation over the years will make the investment in water-free footing a no-brainer.” Even in non-drought times, a smaller water bill is a smaller water bill.

Although there has been substantial growth of footing savvy in the States, there are still some gaps in the collective knowledge base, notes Cynthia. To help fill those, she offers this primer:

Footing 101

“It is useful to compare the physical characteristics of different surfaces in relation to their effect on the horse’s stride. Hard surfaces (concrete, asphalt, hard soil) have a high impact resistance and a high shear resistance. Consequently, the limbs are subjected to considerable concussion, and the toe is unable to penetrate the surface, which produces high loads in the navicular region in the terminal stance phase.

“Sand has a somewhat lower impact resistance than hard soil, combined with a low shear resistance which allows the toe to penetrate deeply. However, deep sand tends to give way, resulting in a loss of traction. Because horses must use a greater muscular effort to overcome the tendency of the sand to give way, the working heart rate will be up to 50 percent higher on deep sand.

This is why sand is so tiring for the horse to work on.

“Amendments, such as textiles and fibers, are added to sand to improve the properties as a riding surface. GGT-Footing, a shredded textile, stabilizes the sand particles - this mimics the effect of the rooting system of turf, which has a stabilizing effect on the surrounding soil particles.

“Our products give more resilience, reduce the amount of packing and help to hold moisture in the surface, which leads to reduced dust.

Dressage rider Catherine Malone, right, had this arena built by Drew Discount, left.

Sand & Other Savvies

GGT prides itself on being at the leading edge of footing advances. Equally important is the company’s emphasis on customer service.

International rider and Rocky Mountain Show Jumping show organizer John Anderson was one of the first to embrace GGT-Footing, first at his multi-ring venue just outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and more recently at the two-year-old indoor show in downtown Calgary, the Royal West.

“I’ve been doing arenas for 10 years or so, and as I started to build different types of rings, I did my research to keep up with the times regarding footing.” Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary has crazy weather variations that make footing selection a particular challenge. John’s research led him to conclude, then and now, that GGT-Footing offered state of the art product at a reasonable price.

After that, the next step was the critical step of finding the right sand.

Throughout the process, John says the GGT-Footing team was a big help. “They were good to work with. I like their product and they have a bunch of interesting new products coming out.”

John is a strong supporter of GGT-Footing and has helped many fellow equestrians incorporate it into their arena installations to great effect.

In addition to having the critical component of appropriate sand for the arena’s base, usage and local weather conditions, drainage is another big area in which GGT-Footing’s counsel is a valuable part of the company’s service and success.

The El Nino storms predicted for the West Coast this winter give Cynthia cause for concern. “I’m concerned that many West Coasters have not gone the full drainage route,” she explains. “If that’s the case, you should investigate French drains or a water management system now before the El Nino hits. My advice is to plan ahead rather than wait for an arena to be rendered useless by heavy rains!”

Dale Harvey of West Palms Events is another prominent name on the long list of organizers who are GGT-Footing fans. “We are so pleased that West Palms Events and GGT have successfully partnered on producing events with GGT’s top notch footing for our competitors,” says Dale. “In the 2015 show season, the Paso Robles Horse Park’s grand opening debuted incredible arenas with GGT-Footing, which were highly recognized and complimented by competitors, trainers and owners. We greatly appreciate GGT-Footing’s support at all of our events, and are proud to associate with such a fantastic sponsor and product!”

In addition to great footing, the GGT-Footing Grand Prix Series is another happy product of the company’s partnership with West Palms Events. The league of mid-height Grand Prix are staged at West Palm Events shows throughout the state, culminating with exciting Series Final during the Del Mar International in the fall: Mandy Porter was the Series winner for 2015.
Like the footing itself, the Series is designed to give horses and riders a firm foundation as they develop to their fullest potential in the sport.

For more information, visit www.GGT-Footing.com.