Wellington, FL – August 14, 2017 – Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), announced today that International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) and Equestrian Services International (ESI), world-renowned experts in arena footing, are in the final stages of developing a new field surface that will create high availability and dramatically lower relative cost of ownership per polo practice. This approach will have the potential to offset limited field access and the high cost of renting practice fields.
“This innovation is not intended to replace grass polo fields, but rather provide an option for a renewable, high-availability practice environment on a regulation size field, which allows practice at game speed,” commented Bellissimo.
The special mixture of sand, felt, fiber, and unique binding agent allows for a safe surface for players and horses, while reducing cupping and divots created by horses’ movement that may impede the travel of a traditional grass polo ball. A baseline version of the surface, measuring 700′ ft. x 180′ ft., has been installed, tested and is being refined at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, NC.
A short version of the initial test video is available by clicking here, which shows Gladiator Polo™ Manager Gates Gridley practicing on the surface. The playing field is now being refined with a second-phase mixture, which will provide enhanced performance and will be installed in Wellington later this year.
Gridley was the first player to ride on the initial surface and commented, “I was surprised how well the horse and ball moved on the footing. There were limited divots even after stopping and turning on the surface. It doesn’t allow you to tee up the ball, like on the grass, but definitely allows you breeze the horses and work on hand eye coordination similar to a grass field. You can hit the ball far but it stays along the ground and moves more like a hockey puck, which may reduce risk of injury to horse and rider from a stray ball during practices.”
Bellissimo added, “Clearly the limited access to practice fields and the high cost of renting fields can be a limiting factor for participation and growth of the sport. I envision the surface being used many times per day and allowing for a whole group of players and teams to practice more cost effectively and allow for horses and riders to stay at peak performance.”
An initial full practice on the all-weather footing is planned for early September at TIEC and will be video recorded for review online. Results from the test practice will lead to further refinement of the footing in advance of the Wellington implementation.
With the addition of the new footing integration, the management team at IPC is eager to begin evaluating strategies to incorporate access to the practice field within the club. For more information on IPC membership, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the new footing technology, please contact Gates Gridley at email@example.com.
For more information on Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), please visit www.tryon.com or to learn more about the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), please visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.
Photo Credit ©ESI.