Citing poor footing in the horse stadium, officials cut short the final day of the state 4-H horse show on Tuesday, prompting the Oregon FFA to cancel its planned horse show at the Oregon State Fair, too.
Both 4-H and FFA representatives cited bad footing in the horse stadium as the reason for canceling the shows. The FFA canceled after the four-day State 4H Horse Fair showings were plagued by slipping horses and one horse exhibitor flipped her horse in the arena at a collected lope.
“A lot of times this is a culminating effort, this kind of ends our summer season before we go into the fall,” said Lance Hill, a FFA representative. “But this is just one of those things that those of us in ag have to absorb. When it rains you’re not making hay.
“We may have lost out on the experience of the moment, but we always come back to the fact that the most important thing is the safety of our students,” Hill said.
According to Footing Solutions USA, a company that specializes in preparing arenas for equestrian events, the perfect surface has to be compact, rebounding sand that still gives enough to prevent high impact on the horses’ muscles and bones. If footing is too hard or too loose, the performance of the animal and the safety of the event can be compromised, according to the company’s website.
“If you get too much compact dirt below, it tends to be rougher when starting, stopping and turning the animals,” Hill said. “These are performance-based animals, and we try and do everything to ensure they can perform properly.”
Fair organizers are working on a solution, said Amber Lindsey, a spokeswoman for the Oregon State Fair.
“As of yesterday, the event was going to be canceled at the request of the FFA,” Lindsey said. “But the ground crews have been working on the arena for 24 hours straight to try and get it ready.”
Competitors come from around the state for the FFA event, and it won’t be rescheduled, Hill said.
“When we made the decision to follow suit, we were not going to change our minds,” Hill said. “We have people come from around the state, so it wouldn’t be fair to reschedule and only local competitors be able to join.”
Other horse events are scheduled throughout the fair, which ends Sept. 1.
The change “does not affect open class. It is still scheduled to go. We had a volunteer come in last night and do some additional work. She has experience in arena rescue. We’re going to continue to work on it for the next few days,” said M.G. Devereux, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department. Some 400 competitors are registered for the open class events.