Surface for horse riding in recycled rubber
Inside horse riding centres and stables an adequate rubber flooring guarantees the horse a soft and comfortable support; it also insulates the animal from damp, hot or cold floors and compensates the floor unevenness. Moreover, it noticeably improves hygiene in the stable and annuls the risk of slipping. In addition to this, the use of this solution allows to noticeably reduce –and in some cases to completely eliminate – the costs for bedding material, such as chips or hay.
However, horses and riders spend most part of the day in outdoor training fields, which are usually made in sand. Sand is a material that, during sports activities, may release fine dusts, which may cause respiratory pathologies linked to silicosis. This respiratory pathology is very frequent in horses, but it also affects horse riders, who spend many hours on these surfaces. The trampling of the horses’ hooves and the constant wearing of sand granules release micro particles of silica in the air. These enter the pulmonary alveoli, causing even serious damage.
Even in this case, the rubber recycled from End-of-Life Tyres comes to rescue: by replacing sand with recycled rubber granules, either fully or with sand and rubber mixes, the dispersion of dust in the air is reduced in such a consistent way that, in certain cases, it is not even necessary to water the external area before starting the activities with the horses.
This typology of horse riding surfaces in recycled rubber has already been installed, for example, at the Horse Riding Centre Tashunka in Todi and at the Horse Riding Centre Happy Horse of Orvieto. Moreover, Ecopneus, in collaboration with UISP, has reinforced its presence in FieraCavalli for some years. FieraCavalli is one of the main international horse riding events and Ecopneus has installed a training field in recycled rubber inside the Fair, where activities and competitions, such as the Ecopneus-Uisp Trophy, are carried out.
All the advantages of recycled rubber surfaces for horse riding:
- Reduction of lesions to the animal’s limbs in the long term
- Anti-slip, resistant to the stress caused by the animal’s hooves
- Increase of animal’s comfort and health, amortizing its movements and eliminating the danger of slippery surfaces
- Application on every type of surfaces, even uneven ones, such as: grass, soil or sand
- Easy to install and to adapt to every shape and dimension
- Duration, resistance to wear and bad weather, reduction of costs of maintenance or replacement
- Hygienic, easy to clean and insulation from dirty floors and waste liquids
- Acoustic insulation, with noise reduction from trampling in the stable
If you would like to find out more about the advantages and characteristics of horse riding surfaces made with rubber recycled from ELTs, download our brochure (in italian): “Recycled rubber floorings: the future of horse riding centres and stables has a new ground“.
Can a mare be allergic to hay? Find out about the story of the mare Juanita and how she recovered thanks to the horse riding surfaces in recycled rubber!
Juanita is a 13-year-old Arabian mare that has an unusual problem, at least for a horse: she is allergic to hay. However, at the Tashunka horse riding centre of the town of Todi they did not lose their heart. They solved Juanita’s problem thanks to the horse riding surfaces in recycled rubber. Indeed, these surfaces not only offer a comfortable surface for the animal, but they also allow to almost completely eliminate the use of bedding materials. This simplifies the cleaning activities in the stables, it cuts costs, and noticeably increases the hygiene and health of the environment, thus making happy both horse riding centre managers and horses like Juanita.
The study of the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Perugia
A recent study promoted by Ecopneus and UISP has been carried out by the Department of Veterinary Studies of the University of Perugia under the coordination of Professor Marco Pepe. The study has confirmed how horse riding surfaces in recycled rubber are excellent surfaces for training and relaxation and they are very similar to the best sand fields – at least for gaits and dressage. Moreover, they also allow good comfort of use both for horses and their riders. The study was presented also during FieraCavalli 2018.
Indeed, in the last 30 years, important improvements related to the various surfaces used as competition or training fields have been introduced in the horse riding sector, both for show jumping and dressage. The development went from grass surfaces (which are not very regular and compact) to sand ones, which are softer and, apparently, more comfortable and performing in different weather conditions. Ecopneus and UISP have been working together for some years in order to develop an excellent horse riding surface, completely made with recycled rubber from ELTs. So far, the advantages have been many: from a financial point of view, the surface lasts for longer than natural turf and there are no costs for irrigation and phytosanitary treatments. Recycled rubber allows to avoid using other more expensive raw materials; moreover, a material derived from a product that reached the end of its life has found a new use. Rubber granules increase the comfort of both horses and their riders and facilitate the drainage of rainwater.
Study and methodologies
The study of the University of Perugia has been carried out at the Horse Riding Centre “Happy Horse” of the city of Orvieto where a horse riding surface was created. We shall call this surface ELT1. It is composed of a layer of plates made in recycled rubber and a layer of recycled rubber granules, which was then modified by adding a layer of synthetic turf (we shall call it ELT2).
In the pilot study, an Equinosis® Q with Lameness Locator® was used. This is a digital system which allows the veterinary to objectively measure the horse’s gaits in real time with inertial, non-invasive sensors. The Equinosis® Q with Lameness Locator® has evolved from the development of algorithms for the analysis of movement using a high-speed video camera and a system based on treadmill. Many experts of the sector consider it a “gold standard” objective measuring tool for the field evaluation of the irregularities of the horse’s gaits.
14 horses aged between 8 and 32 years (average age of 16) have been included in the study. Each horse was subject to a veterinary visit to evaluate the presence of eventual lameness. After the veterinary visit, the horses were divided into two groups: “fit to compete” (9 horses) and “non-fit to compete or lame” (5 horses). Once the horses were divided into the two categories, the objective analysis of the trot in a straight line, on the lead and then mounted on the 3 different surfaces (sand, ELT1 and ELT2) was carried out by the means of the Equinosis® Q with Lameness Locator®.
The results of the study
From this preliminary study, the surfaces in recycled rubber for horse riding can be considered similar to the ones in sand (currently considered the best). The horses’ performances are similar, with minor divergences in lame horses. Moreover, the rubber granules allow a good comfort of use and are excellent training and relaxation surfaces – at least for gaits and dressage. It is considered that the amortising properties and the elasticity of the foundation are to be further investigated, as they may guarantee an improvement in the prevention of tendon, ligament and articulation pathologies.