August 2015 - Drought Buster
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 22:42

Dramatic water conservation is one of new footing material’s many benefits.

With California’s record-breaking drought well into its fourth year, news of a top quality arena footing that retains water five times longer than normal footing sounds a little too good to be true. But Premier Equestrian’s 14 years in the business lend credibility to that claim, and both common sense and science back it up.

Led by principals Heidi Zorn and Mark Neihart, Premier has been distributing arena products since 1999 and developing its own arena textiles for the last four. As horse owners, Heidi and Mark’s priority has always been horse health, longevity and performance. “For The Horse” is the company’s motto.

The Utah company’s new Premier HT footing drastically reduces the amount of water needed to maintain an ideal riding surface. The “HT” stands for hydration technology.  Using a patented process, Premier HT footing textiles are infused with a super absorbent polymer that enables the textiles to catch and hold onto water. That’s opposed to traditional footing textiles, which are made of polyester that doesn’t absorb much water and instead loses the increasingly precious liquid to drainage and evaporation. Premier HT holds onto the water, which then is released gradually into the surface keeping the footing perfectly hydrated. The HT technology is completely safe for horse and human, passing the most stringent toxicology testing, assures Premier President Heidi Zorn.

Ready In Late August

In development for the last year and on track and taking orders for late-August deliveries, Premier HT is currently undergoing third party testing. As Premier Equestrian CEO and lead developer for this product, Mark explains, “We want to make sure when we make claims about the product we can back it up with science. Early tests show a dry-out rate of up to five times longer than traditional textile footings. This means using five times less water, saving time and money. It also means more time riding your horse and less time managing the arena.”

Heidi Zorn and Mark Neihart

Even without the drought, Premier HT will likely gain the interest of horse owners who share Premier Equestrian’s priorities regarding horses’ health. This is because of how it affects the horse’s biomechanics. Its ability to retain water creates better cushioning and shock absorption, directly affecting performance. Heidi offers the analogy of a bullet traveling through the air versus through water, where its speed is greatly slowed. She sees the tangible impact of this with her “test” horse Sting, a retired FEI mount whose navicular makes him extra sensitive to footing quality. Lunging him in arenas with and without Premier HT, “the difference in his gaits was extraordinary,” she reports. “I could see how well the energy of impact was diluted, absorbed and sent back up his leg.”

In addition to positively affecting the horse’s biomechanics, the footing’s use of less water also means less time spent on arena maintenance. That’s a big deal for the private stable owners who comprise a large portion of Premier’s clientele base.

“It addresses the four things we are always looking for in footing,” Mark says. “Stability, traction, biomechanical advantage and less watering and maintenance.”

Consistent Quality

The quality and consistency of the textiles is a big part of Premier HT’s performance. Mark explains, “Product consistency is a long-standing issue in the textile business because the materials we typically use are recycled products from the manufacturing process. From batch to batch, the color, content and, more importantly, performance and durability of the material can vary greatly.” Premier has solved the consistency issue by establishing a regular supply chain that will deliver the same material every time, he adds. In addition to consistently producing a better end product, using a steady supply of new materials was required for the process of infusing it with the new Hydration Technology.

Both Heidi and Mark are very excited about the new Premier HT arena footing. “You need three things to successfully use a textile footing additive: the right sand, the ability to water regularly and the correct grooming equipment,” Heidi explains, “With Premier HT we have greatly reduced the amount of water needed to complete that requirement.” Mark has a more philosophical take, “This is going to change the way people think about textile arena footings: It’s a real game changer.”

Formed in 1999, Premier Equestrian is a leader in footing and arena equipment, including jumps and dressage courts. Its legacy of contributing to equine safety, performance and longevity has made it a leader in equestrian sports.  Adding Premier HT to its extensive line of footing options is the latest of its many innovations over the years.

For more information, call 800-611-6109 or visit