A facility renowned for its outstanding polo fields is adding an amenity sure to enhance its existing assets.

A 30,000-square-foot stadium jumping arena is in the process of being installed at New Bridge Polo and Country Club. However, it’s the arena’s footing that may hold the secret to elevating and intensifying the experience, not only for the equestrian, but the equine athlete.

Longwood Farm South’s Joe Watkins is building the arena and installing the footing. The riding surface in the arena is composed of German Geo Textile footing. The footing is 100 percent polyester and is blended with silica sand, said Cynthia Brewster-Keating, sales manager.

Brewster-Keating came to Aiken several months ago to look at the proposed site for the arena, which is near one of the facility’s premier polo fields, field no. 2. The project itself will only take 10 days, and barring poor weather, the arena should be completed on Christmas Eve.

Several upper-level eventers winter at New Bridge, including Jan Byyny and Doug Payne.

“He’s (Watkins) built a lot of arenas for a lot of big names,” said Raza Kazmi. “This will give the three-day eventers a good place to ride.”

Everything is laser graded and guided with state-of-the-art technology, said Watkins, who went to Europe to buy horses.

While he was in Belgium and Holland, he looked at several of the larger arenas, bringing sand samples back to the United States. The German Geo Textile footing was the closest product available stateside to what he had seen overseas.

German Geo Textile’s parent company is in Germany, but they have a plant in Spartanburg.

“The footing is more expensive than carpet,” said Brewster-Keating. “It will last longer, doesn’t mold, disintegrate into dust, where the carpet breaks down faster. This requires a little more care, needs irrigation and proper grooming tools.”

Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.