January 20, 2019

Sand For A Manhattan Equestrian Renaissance

In September of 2014, riders and their mounts were back in The Big Apple, competing in the inaugural Central Park City  Horse  Show,  sponsored  by  Rolex. It was the improbable but gratifying end  to a long drought for New York horse aficionados.

America’s National Horse Show, actually founded in New York in 1883, was last staged at Madison Square Garden in 2001 before pulling stakes and relocating to Florida. The Metropolitan Horse Show was held at Pier 94 for a few years but it, too, vanished from the scene. That all changed last  fall.

With stacked schedules of  dressage, show jumping and polo, the ring was busy day and night, all set against a Central Park backdrop. High-level equestrian riders from around the world, notably champion Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of former mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Jessica Springsteen, daughter of “The Boss,” competed once again.

Before any courses could be set up, footing had to be laid down over the surface of Central Park’s Trump Ring. And footing for high-level equestrian events is a serious business. Like athletic venues anywhere, the competition surface for riders needs to be so good no one really notices, except perhaps that is so good.

Equestrian Services International, of Wellington, Florida provided the footing. ESI has been designing and building competition riding arenas for more than 20 years. One of their trademarks is the footing they prepare for the highest profile equestrian venues worldwide, including the World Cup and 2012 Summer Olympics. ESI’s footing is a proprietary blend of geotextile felt, special fibers and colorants (pink was chosen for Central Park). Their unique formulations provide riders within the proper balance between compression and rebound for maximum stability. That blended footing is anchored by what ESI calls “the highest quality sand available on the market.” That sand in Central Park was provided by O&G’s Materials Division.

Brett Raflowitz is the hands-on owner/operator of ESI. “When O&G says they’re going to do something, they’re 100 percent reliable. I don’t ever remember having to make a call to fix anything. The product is always great, so is the service. In this business that’s rare. O&G has been just irreplaceable.”

T.J. Oneglia, Vice President of the Materials Division, says his crews provided 1400 tons of their sand, trucked down to Manhattan in a three-day window ahead of the event. What properties was ESI looking for in the sand? “It was the versatility of the sand, how ESI could use it in their various blends to meet user specifications,” says Oneglia. But just as importantly, O&G was able to provide the tonnage ESI needed to construct their Central Park venue, in the time frame they required, as promised.

O&G has provided equestrian sand for ESI going back to 2007, trucking it to Martha’s Vineyard, upstate New York, Pennsylvania and other locations. ESI has more distant venues in the planning and is counting on O&G to provide its same premium equestrian sand and bank-on-it service and delivery. “When ESI requests our sand we try to be very responsive, wherever they need it. A lot of people have a lot riding on what we can do for them,” says Oneglia.