News & events
Equestrian Surfaces: through the decades
At Equestrian Surfaces Ltd, we’ve been manufacturing, supplying and installing high-quality riding surfaces for over 35 years – meaning we are experts at what we do. Our commitment to innovation and development is just as important to us as delivering quality products and providing exceptional customer service.
Whilst our company has evolved quite substantially over the years, our core values and people-focussed philosophy remains unchanged.
We thought we’d take a look at where it all started and how the company has grown and developed over the years.
Where it all began…
In 1982, with a spring in his step, our founder, Paul Harper, established the company under the name Pally Plant, later known as Pendle Plant Hire.
In 1984, we undertook our very first outdoor equestrian arena construction project. As part of our hiring service, we constructed an outdoor riding arena for a client in Brockhall Village, Blackburn. The client requested our assistance in creating an outdoor horse arena, and so we got to work excavating their site and laid a PVC surface.
After gaining eight more years of experience in constructing indoor and outdoor equestrian arenas, in 1995, it became time to begin manufacturing our own pre-mixed surfaces. Thus was born Equestrian Surfaces Ltd.
We launched Cushion Track Classic, which was our first waxed surface and one of the very first waxed surfaces available within the UK market. To this day, this remains our signature surface and is a favourite with equestrian clients across the globe. We also developed our first non-waxed surface, Arti Turf – a firm alternative for those seeking a quality and economical option.
A number of clients on from that and the development of our own surfaces, Equestrian Surfaces Ltd was formed.
Growth and expansion…
From here, the business steadily grew as we decided to set up a second mixing facility in the year 2000, to service our customers in the South of England. By 2002, we had captured the attention of Buckingham Palace as we were commissioned to provide surfaces for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, prompting us to set up a third mixing facility in Windsor.
“Being selected to provide a riding arena for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee was a truly special moment for the company. Using our patented grid system, we provided a great sustainable solution for the temporary riding arena on Windsor Great Park. Additionally, the Queen’s Gold State Coach was driven on our Cushion Track surface, which was the very first artificial all-weather surface,” says Sales Director Thomas Harper, “All of the works were undertaken under extremely tight timescales, and our team was highly commended for our great efforts on this project by the Royal Team.”
Just a few years later, we went international, securing our first transnational contract in Dubai during the summer of 2004 – this was the construction of a track and arena. Our Installations Manager, John Canavan, reflects on what this meant for the business at the time:
“Moving our operations abroad was a huge step for the business. The expertise of our team and the quality of our installations within the UK was attracting great interest from Europe and beyond, with other countries beginning to develop their own Equestrian Industry,” explains Thomas Harper “In order for them to do this successfully, and create an industry on-parr with the UK’s, they required our expertise to ensure that the arenas were constructed to a high quality and could cope with the extremely hot climates of Dubai. This job acted as a catalyst for us, opening the doors to a lot more work throughout the Middle East.”
In 2006, a whopping 20,000 tonnes of our Cushion Track Racing surface was shipped over to Hollywood Park Racecourse in the USA. This was all produced at our newly-bought manufacturing facility in Burnley, which opened in 2005.
By now, we had established an international reputation for supplying top-quality equestrian surfaces and industry-leading constructions. In 2008, the team travelled over to the Santa Anita Racecourse in the USA, where we mixed 20,000 tonnes of surface on-site.
During this year, we also won a contract for the iconic Sunshine Coast Turf Club in Australia, where our team mixed all 12,000 tonnes of Cushion Track Racing surface on-site before supervising the installation over a nine-month turnkey operation.
Making things official…
As a business, we understand that industry-specific accreditations demonstrate both credibility and assurance for our clients and the public alike – this is why, in 2012, we gained approval from the Environmental Agency for the ‘End of Waste’ test for the synthetic fibres used in our equine surfaces.
Furthermore, in 2014, we were awarded the BS EN ISO9001 accreditation for the manufacture, supply and installation of synthetic riding surfaces. This reflects the high standards we continually strive to meet and assures clients that we maintain an efficient and highly-commendable level of service.
In recent years…
We’ve continued to build a portfolio of notable clients, and in 2016 our surfaces were laid at the prestigious Addington Equestrian Centre in Buckingham. Two years later, in 2018, our team got to work at the David Broome Event Centre in Wales, where we surfaced the 7,200 square metre outdoor arena and all-weather cross-country jumps.
Here at Equestrian Surfaces Ltd, we love a challenge, which meant in 2019, we leapt at the opportunity to surface (and attend) the Liverpool International Horse Show, carrying out essential maintenance works throughout the event to ensure the surface was kept consistent for every competitor.
The next challenge came in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics 2020, whereby we became the official provider of the British Showjumping National Training Centre, which served as a training facility for several equestrian Olympic competitors. The British dressage team performed brilliantly at the Olympics, which we’d like to think we played a small role in supporting!
“Being able to provide the GB Equestrian Team with a variety of riding arenas and surfaces to quarantine at, train on, and work their horses on before they flew to Tokyo to represent our nation was a very proud moment for everyone at our company,” explained Sales Director, Thomas Harper.
In 2021, we shipped over 2,300 tonnes of our surface to the Royal Military Base in Qatar, further expanding our international horizons.
Meanwhile, this year, in March, we were thrilled to announce the opening of our newly-launched Cheshire Showcase Facility. This was designed to take some of the stress out of the decision-making process when selecting equine surfaces – and is proving popular with clients seeking to ‘try before they buy’.
“There’s a whole range of surface options available on the market, and we know that it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to deciding on which to go for,” says Thomas Harper “We’re hoping that with the launch of our new Showcase Facility, we’ll be able to make things a little bit easier for those looking to install a new surface, or replace an existing one.”
Work at Equestrian Ltd hasn’t slowed down during 2022, where we’ve seen our teams travelling up and down the country to supply, install and maintain surfaces on a range of indoor and outdoor arenas for private clients, equestrian schools, gallops, training tracks and professional competition grounds.
If you’d like to get in touch with our team to discuss surface supply, installation, arena construction, or surface maintenance, give us a call on 01282 834 970 or drop us a message here!