November 2018 - Olympia Footing Equestrian Services, LLC
Written by CRM
Thursday, 01 November 2018 05:44
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nov2018 olympia2Installing world class arena systems at a competitive price point.

Tony Judge, the owner of Olympia Footing Equestrian Services, wants to take the footing industry to the next level.     

“We need a company able to put their integrity behind everything they do,” he asserts. Equestrians usually know the function and feel they want in their riding surface, but they rarely know how to create it. Some firms don’t know much about that either, but put up a good front. Often it’s excavation companies with grading and drainage experience, but little understanding of footing materials and how they impact safety and performance, let alone the different equine biomechanics that exist in each of the sporthorse disciplines.

In the process of fulfilling his ambition, Olympia Footing has helped clients and owners performing at all levels of the sport and in every performance discipline.


This year’s World Equestrian Games team and individual silver dressage medalist Laura Graves is one of the company’s biggest fans. The first American to attain world #1 status in dressage, which happened in early October, Laura first worked with Tony and his crew at her CrossTies LLC training property near Orlando, FL. Construction on her oversize, fence-less dressage arena was underway with another company when she recognized things were not going well. On the referral of one of her sponsors, Premier Equestrian, Laura called Tony in California, and he sent team members out to her the next day.  

nov2018 olympia1Freshly groomed arena installed by Olympia Footing.

Olympia is one of Premier’s approved arena builders and the two companies have a long-standing partnership.    

“After having a bad experience the first time around, I was a little on edge when these guys showed up,” Laura recalls. She worried about whether her very specific preferences and priorities would be understood and respected by the construction crew. Instead, they looked, they listened and they got to work—from sun up until sun down.  In little over a week, Laura was riding on a surface exactly to her liking.

“They walked into mess,” she shares. “I never heard one complaint or saw a bad attitude. I was so thankful to Tony and his crew, I cooked them a thank you dinner!”

nov2018 olympia3Gundi Younger’s Arena

As is the case with all of Olympia’s projects, the riding surface in Laura’s arena is a custom blend. The characteristics of available sand and preferences regarding depth, cushion and traction are the main variables that dictate specific formulations. At CrossTies, for example, the available sand has a tendency to not compact enough. Premier’s Arena Aid and Protex fiber have been mixed with the sand to counteract that and create the surface Laura sought.  

The safety, well-being and performance of her horses is Laura’s top priority in footing selection.  “Tony went above and beyond in making me a fabulous arena,” she says. Maintenance is important, too. “One of my big points when I was building this farm was making it as low maintenance as possible. I don’t want to spend my off days fixing fence boards and dragging arenas.”

The CrossTies arena typically gets worked on by 10 horses a day, yet dragging it every couple of days is all that’s needed. Every few months, the footing in the arena’s 60 by 20 meter interior dressage court gets a refresh using a Premier Equestrian Arena Groomer. With Tony’s guidance whenever requested, Laura likes being self-sufficient when it comes to doing both the regular and more substantial arena maintenance tasks. Flipping, turning and rotating the riding surface has kept CrossTies’ arena in perfect shape since it was constructed in early 2017.

Filling A Niche

In Central California’s Paso Robles area, Templeton Farms owner Gina Bornino Miller has equally high praise for Tony and Olympia Footing after having them build two of her 52-acre boarding and training facility’s arenas. One is a big outdoor jumping ring with a subterranean watering system and the other is a sand ring with a jump chute. Getting the footing just right in the Farm’s round pen is a current project with Tony.

nov2018 olympia4Jump Arena

Gina oversaw the building from scratch of Templeton Farms, which opened in 2011. When it came time to build the two new rings –about two years ago and in anticipation of hunter star John French moving to Templeton – Gina looked into the many companies that purport to be arena experts. She’d heard good things about Tony and chose Olympia to head the project.

She describes Tony’s expertise and Olympia’s services as filling a niche in the market, nationally and especially on the West Coast. Before building Templeton Farms, the dressage rider had boarded at enough stables where the facility owners did their own footing to know that would be a mistake. While she insisted on top quality footing for the hunter/jumper and dressage riders at Templeton, she wasn’t in the market for an astronomically-priced project proposed by some of the East Coast-based companies she’d contacted. Olympia offered “high quality at a reasonable price.”

nov2018 olympia5OTTO Ebb & Flow Subterranean Water System

Gina appreciated Tony’s willingness to work with her preferences, rather than having him dictate “his solutions,” she notes. The 130’ by 235’ jumping arena, for example, is built on a mattress system from Footing Solutions and footed with a custom fiber and sand blend. More simply, footing in the jump chute, located on a flood plain, includes DG. “We talked about what to do in which ring, and he was happy to work with whomever and whatever was needed to get the system done.” Tony has made the four-hour drive from Olympia’s headquarters in Northern California’s Santa Rosa whenever needed and is quick to return phone inquiries, she notes.

She couldn’t be happier with the outcome at Templeton Farms. Like Laura, she recommends him highly and without reservation.
    
Olympia’s Origins

Having grown up in the Northwest riding and establishing a career in custom landscaping, Tony was poised to recognize opportunities in the equestrian arena world when he was invited several years ago to work on an arena project. “I understood there was a need to take it a step further,” he recalls. “I could relate with what needed to be done to create the perfect ride. I understand footing, base material and the importance of grading. All those things were right up my alley.”

nov2018 olympia6OTTO-Perforated Mats

The more Tony worked for other companies in the industry, the more he saw that many facility owners were being taken advantage of. In some cases, a successful job was defined as not getting any complaint calls – “everything was fear based,” he reflects. “It’s easy to fall into these niches because people could see there was a need, the farm owners and trainers were not knowledgeable about how to build an arena and footing needs, and contractors saw there was a lot of money to be made.

“I wanted to change that,” Tony continues. “I wanted to provide something better, to make sure the client has exactly what they need and to work out good relationships, rather than selling a product and walking away.” His interest in the relationship between equine biomechanics and footing – in disciplines from reining and jumping to dressage – influences all projects to benefit the safety, comfort, performance and longevity of the horses who work on Olympia arenas.

nov2018 olympia7Arena Base

Tony’s approach applies to the broad range of services Olympia Footing now offers. The menu includes site consulting, farm set-up, laser leveling, new base installation, site development and a wide range of textiles and sand with the expertise to blend them specifically for each arena’s use, owner’s preferences and the biomechanics of the horses working on them. An array of arena drags and harrows are available with instruction on how to use them for regular and annual maintenance. Olympia also offers full-service footing maintenance and laser grading. Footing for paddocks, round pens and any other exercise space are no problem.

Olympia Footing’s high standards align with top quality partner companies. Olympia is an authorized installer of all Premier Equestrian, official footing supplier of US Equestrian. Premier’s extensive line of footing products includes the OTTO Ebb & Flow subterranean water system that includes all-weather water control. The OTTO all-weather base mats offer 40% more cushion than standard base system, Tony reports. “They give you the full benefit of having an all weather riding service.”

nov2018 olympia8Indoor Arena

Laura and Gina’s testimonies are the tip of an iceberg of good reviews for Olympia Footing. They indicate that Tony has fulfilled his vision for his company and, in the process, raised the bar for his profession.

For more information contact Owner: Tony Judge, 916-206-0662, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Project Coordinator: Michael Johnson, 805-729-4422, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.OlympiaFooting.com.