In preparation for the A-Rated Santa Fe Summer Series and Fall Fun Series, HIPICO Santa Fe has been working diligently to provide the best in grass and sand footing to host these top equestrian competitions in the heart of the Southwest.
HIPICO Santa Fe owner, Guy McElvain, is personally involved in every aspect of sourcing, mixing, testing, and studying the footing. “We are committed to providing the very best in competition ring footing and will continue to research solutions to consistently improve the footing.” McElvain rides each test strip in order to get first-hand experience and insight into the footing progress.
Four new grass rings are being added this year to allow for more competition rotation, reducing deterioration of the turf. In order to continually improve the quality of the grass, HIPICO Santa Fe has introduced a consistent program of seeding, sanding, aeration and fertilization to promote growth, speed the in-filling, and improve the consistency of the carpet. The first aeration began this weekend and will be followed by sanding this week. Aerating relieves soil compaction and deepens the grass root systems by enabling the roots to access the nutrients below the built up grass thatch. HIPICO Santa Fe has developed a special sand mix of locally sourced red cinder sand that has proven ideal for grass fields. Red cinder sand is a volcanic rock with vesicles that retain nutrients and moisture when used as a soil amendment. This type of sand resists fungi, nematodes or insects and will help with drainage since it creates superior pore space in soil and resists compaction. The process of aeration and sanding will be repeated several times on all rings before competition begins, in order to prepare the fields for optimum footing and top-level competition.
In the sand arenas, HIPICO Santa Fe took advantage of the off-season to consult with top experts and conduct a series of tests to determine the best blend for competition. Looking to improve the footing resistance and absorption, various components were considered for their ability to resist compaction, retain moisture, bind sand and provide spring. As a result of this effort, HIPICO Santa Fe has created a optimal proprietary mixture, using very fine angular sand as a binder, courser sand for absorption and stability, and an inorganic flexible material to improve drainage and resist compaction. The fine angular sand is locally mined and air-sorted for mesh consistency leaving it nearly 100% pure. This fine sand will help to bind the textiles and tighten the courser sand base. The courser sand base allows for absorption and enough slip to lessen concussion on landings. Another important additive is an inorganic, inert, lightweight, fibrous and expanding material that aids in moisture retention, resists compaction and does not break down, which creates good drainage, with no mud. To complement this mixture, more textile and polyester fibers have been added. The felt will retain moisture and provide spring and cushion while the fibers will help to tighten and bind the footing for superior consistency.
As it is the literal basis for competition, HIPICO Santa Fe knows how important quality footing is to a successful horse show experience.