Reliable footing is an essential aspect of your horse’s’ performance and overall health. Today, several footing options are available to the equestrian community, including the prevalent carpet waste footing. Because of the material’s incredible comfort, many horse owners have chosen to put it into their arenas. However, what many equestrians are beginning to realize is that carpet waste raises may actually be harmful to their horses.
Researchers and some riders believe there are high levels of toxic chemicals in shredded carpets. While no official data shows estimates of the level of harm the material causes to horses, some smaller studies have demonstrated carpet waste footing has disastrous effects on horses and their owners. You, like other equestrians, might be worrying about your animal since your arena has carpet waste footing.
This article will break down the carpet waste footing crisis in Europe and dive deeper into whether carpet waste horse arena footing is harmful. We want you to have peace of mind that you have a reliable and safe footing that protects your horse’s health for performance.
How Do Carpet Wastes End Up In Horse Arena Footing?
The rate at which carpets manufacturers produce carpets is much larger than the recycling rate. In Europe, for instance, the three largest manufacturers are the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium (Europe is the second-largest carpet producer globally), accounting for 65% of global demand. However, carpet recycling lags because of the complex mix of chemicals often used in making carpets.
About 60% of the carpet ends up in landfills, while the rest is incinerated and reused. Some go to the stables of the reused portion, and it is usually less than 5%. As of January 2020, Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK), a non-profit trade association overseeing carpet waste recycling, reported that 400,000 tons of carpet waste is generated in the UK alone every year. 22% of that quantity ends up in arenas, including horse facilities and equestrian centers in the United States.
In the equestrian industry, footing providers recycle and repackage carpet waste into horse arena footing as a mix of textiles and fibers. Since American law does not see this practice as harmful yet, stables and horse arena surfaces widely adopt the material, believing it saves the environment.
Why Are Carpet Waste Harmful?
Although equestrian researchers have conducted limited studies, available data shows that there are more than 50 toxic substances in European carpets. This includes dangerous materials, such as lead, PFAS, phthalates, fluorine compounds, and metals that also appear in your horse’s footing.
These substances are not ideal for equine health. In fact, they pose various health risks like asthma, developmental disorders, endocrine disruptors, reproductive disorders, and cancer. Synthetic textile fibers constitute microplastic pollution, sometimes released indoors when carpets and clothing wear out, releasing plastic fibers into the environment.
Factories add flame-retardant and stain-resistant chemicals to the plastic material mix they use to create carpets. This ensures the product’s durability, which is why waste carpet outdoor and indoor arena surfaces stay undegraded in the ground for very long. Unsuspecting horse owners love carpet waste footing since they often don’t have to replace it, but they do not realize how it can poison their competitors.
As horses gallop on the equestrian surfaces, flakes, and sand undergo wear and tear, releasing allergens and plastic dust into the air. If any of your horses have sensitive lungs, as in humans, these dust and allergens can cause respiratory issues.
Carpet Fiber Arena Surface Ban
While there is no legislation prohibiting the use of textile and carpet waste horse arena footing in the U.S., we can glean some insights from the recent ban of such surface products in the UK. In line with evidence showing the toxicity of carpet waste, a new environment agency (EA) ruling has banned the use of shredded carpet fiber in riding surfaces in the UK.
Large producers like Carpet Gallop in the UK, and many other equestrians alike have welcomed carpet waste footing awareness and strive to change their products. Legislations do not affect existing surfaces with carpet waste, but they change industry practices in the future.
Best Horse Arena Footing Option
It is terrifying to consider your horse may be harmed over time due to its arena footing that advertises health and performance. Based on current equestrian research in Europe, it is wise to stay away from carpet waste horse footing to be on the safe side. The issue will likely continue to grow in popularity as more horse owners like yourself learn about the chemicals that the material contains.
Our equestrian team at Performance Footing have wrestled with the carpet waste horse footing controversy. We have come to solid conclusions about whether it is harmful to your horses and would love to answer any questions you may have, including offering other footing alternatives. If you are looking specifically for a textile and fiber footing additive, our GGT footing solution is unadulterated and made from virgin materials.
To speak with one of our footing specialists, please call our office at (877).835.0878 or send us a note on our website.