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Raleigh’s Horse Boarding Facility Upgrades It’s State of the Art Equestrian Arena

June 25th, 2014
Whispering Hope Stables, Raleigh’s top horse boarding facility, has superb arena footing for equestrian training.

One rainy spring morning in May 2014, an 18-wheeler truck full of rubber pieces arrived at Whispering Hope Stables. The rubber footing for the arena, now named “Laurie’s Dream” after our sweet friend Laurie Hutchinson, had finally arrived. Amy Peters, Owner of Whispering Hope Stables, promptly climbed up onto the delivered fork lift in the pouring rain and received an immediate “on-the-job” training course on how to operate a fork lift.

This year, Whispering Hope Stables made the decision to enhance their sports arena surface with the addition of rubber footing into their sand/screenings riding surface. Rubber is one of the newest elements to be integrated into arena footing and is quickly growing in popularity. Rubber footing was first introduced into horse arenas by Robert Malmgren, a soil scientist at Colorado State University Equine Center.  Robert Malmgren conducted many studies and his discoveries led to the beginning of rubber footing being regularly used in horse riding arenas.

Rubber is a wonderful addition in an equestrian riding arena as it significantly improves resiliency. According to Oxford dictionary, resilience is defined as “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.” This resilience is extremely significant as it can directly influence the loading and unloading phase of a horse’s movement. In an interview, expert Hilary M. Clayton (BVMS, PhD, MRVCS, Holder of the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair) explained that, when a surface is too forgiving, like deep dry sand or wood shavings, the surface can be compared to “running on a track covered in pillows.”, Continuing on, she said, “this type of low-impact surface absorbs so much energy that your horse’s muscles work much harder to provide sufficient propulsion.” Over time, this extra “work” can lead to premature onset of fatigue and increased risk of sprains.

Rubber can also significantly decrease the amount of dust caused in outdoor arenas. Rubber is able to maintain its structural integrity under severe weather conditions or irritations such as, rain, snow, ice, and machinery like tractors or horse’s hooves. Since rubber does not break down easily, there is less dust formed than compared to sand, soil, screenings or wood chips.  Therefore, by adding rubber, you can protect and prolong the sand or screenings base from breaking down and, in return, reduce the dust flying around the arena. Less dust can not only create a better riding experience, but more importantly reduce the chance of developing certain health conditions in the rider and horse.

Dust can contribute to the worsening of allergies and asthma for the rider or horse. Horses that have the “heaves” also known as COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can have difficulty breathing and should ride in an arena with minimal dust.  It is suspected that chronic exposure to dust in all aspects of the horse’s environment can eventually result in COPD.   Therefore, adding the rubber to equestrian training footings can help reduce the dust intake by horses.  This simple step can, in turn, help prevent the development of COPD symptoms.

Rubber footing is a preferred material under most weather circumstances.  Heavy rain and flooding can cause the rubber to move easily to the perimeter or outside of the arena.  This problem, however, can be easily resolved with proper equipment and regular arena maintenance.  Overall, rubber footing works well in all weather conditions and seasons.  For example, the rubber footing can assist with the thawing of ice and snow, as well as, taking off the glare of a mid-day summer sun.

Every resource about arena surfaces will tell you that the key to obtaining and keeping an ideal surface for riding is regular maintenance. Whispering Hope Stables provides excellent arena maintenance throughout the year, with daily raking and watering times.

An article released by Pennsylvania State, College of Agricultural Sciences, described a perfect arena surface as, “cushioned to minimize concussion on horse legs, firm enough to provide traction, not too slick, not too dusty, not overly abrasive to horse hooves, resistant to freezing during cold weather, inexpensive to obtain, and easy to maintain.” Our good mixture of sand, screening, and rubber at Whispering Hope Stables provides an ideal surface arena for all our equestrian athletes and their horses.

If you haven’t already, you should make an effort this week to come out and ride on our new arena surface at Whispering Hope Stables. You can immediately tell the difference in resiliency, just by stepping onto the arena. There’s this kind of bounce in your step!

Whispering Hope Stables is a top horse boarding and training facility in Raleigh/Cary/Apex triangle area that is dedicated to providing the best training and education to both our equestrian athletes and their riders. Whispering Hope has a large and well-lit outdoor sports arena with ideal footing for our equestrian athletes. Our arena footing at Whispering Hope Stables provides a safe and quaint place for our dressage, jumping, or general horseback riders.

Check out photos and comment about our new footing on our Facebook page “Whispering Hope Stables” or follow us on Twitter @WHS5237.

Written by: Madeline Gioja, Whispering Hope Stables

Date: 06/25/2014



Anderson, F. (n.d.). Arena Construction, Maintenance, and Crumb Rubber. Premier Equestrian. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from

Ball, M. (1999, November 1). COPD. TheHorse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from

Malmgren, R. C. (1999). The equine arena handbook: developing a user-friendly facility. Loveland, CO: Alpine Publications.

Sellnow, L. (2000, May 1). Footing and Horse Performance. TheHorse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from

Wheeler, E. F., & Zajaczkowski, J. (2006). Riding Arena Footing Material Selection and Management. Pennsylvania State University.