3.2 - Footing (Field of Play, Warm-Up & Training Arenas)

The condition, properties and quality of the surface that a horse is ridden on are an essential aspect of horse health, welfare and performance. The quality of an equestrian surface, whether it be grass, sand-based or any other, greatly impacts the horse’s movement, posture, and balance, and as such, careful selection and maintenance is vital both in the training and competition environment. 

FEI Footing Standard

Acknowledging the critical importance of providing the best possible conditions for horses to train and compete on, the FEI led work to establish a scientific based approach to analysing and evaluating footing leading to the introduction of an FEI approved Footing Standard.

The science that underpins the FEI Footing Standard is summarised in the Equine Surfaces White Paper which can be downloaded here. In 2015 this was presented to a forum of the world's leading equine surface suppliers and experts. A consensus emerged at this forum that standards and education should be developed around the three key components of correct material and design, proper installation and appropriate maintenance. A summary of the forum is available here.

The FEI Footing Standard is based on the alignment of objective measurement of footing properties with subjective evaluations of top riders and trainers. The objective testing of footing is carried out using a machine called the 'Orono Biomechanical Surfast Tester (OBST), otherwise known as the 'mechanical hoof'. The standard is comprised of four properties and a fifth measure combining multiple readings to give an evaluation of uniformity across the entire arena/area being measured. The five elements of the FEI Footing Standard are therefore:

Property 1 - Impact Firmness


The FEI Footing Standard has been developed and is available here. Work is ongoing to determine testing analysis and evaluation protocols and to establish practical processes that will enable Organisers, venue owners and footing suppliers to request testing in accordance with the 'FEI Footing Standard'.

Other relevant resources are available here:

For the Olympic Games, FEI World Equestrian Games and other Games, major Championships and Finals a Footing Advisor  (independent of the footing supplier) is appointed to oversee and advise on footing design, testing, installation and maintenance. The job description of the FEI Footing Advisor is available to download here.

Any questions?

If you have any questions regarding organising FEI competitions or would like further advice not available through this guide please contact your National Federation or the relevant FEI department here.

Attached files: Footing Project History.pdf, FEI Standard for Arena Surfaces - Meeting Summary.pdf, Footing Update 12_2016.pdf, ArenaBulletin1.pdf, Ridunderlag_guide_eng_2021_november.pdf, Job Description - FEI Championship Footing Advisor_Jan 22.pdf, FEI Footing Standard - Jan 2022.pdf, Microplastics in equestrian fibresand arenas-report.pdf

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