Ask Martin Collins Enterprises, a British-based manufacturer and installer of synthetic riding surfaces, for a reference and the company could give you one from the Queen of England, but it’s not the royal seal of approval that matters most to Martin Collins, it’s the seal of approval from riders and horses.
“What we really care about are the horses,” said Glynnie Walford, commercial director for the company. “We’ve done the research and development and have put in hours of work with the goal of developing footing that puts the least amount of stress on the horse.” It also puts less stress on those charged with caring for riding surfaces, she said, because Martin Collins has developed footing that requires far less maintenance and lasts much longer. “Provided you look after it, it will look after you.”
The company was started about 30 years ago by Martin Collins, himself a competitive rider from a young age. And the company really can claim to have a seal of approval from the Queen. Just this year, Martin Collins Enterprises was granted a Royal Warrant by the Queen. Royal Warrants are granted to people or companies that have supplied goods or services for at least five years to certain members of the Royal Family. Earning one is considered to be recognition of the quality of a company’s product or service.
Having first entered the U.S. market nearly a decade ago, Martin Collins’ list of American clients is growing. In 2004, the company joined forces with Kentucky’s prestigious Keeneland to create the U.S.-based Martin Collins Surfaces and Footings to expand distribution of its popular Polytrack surfaces in North and South America. The wax-coated surface was first installed in racetracks in England in the 1980s. It is now found in hundreds of racetracks and riding rings around the world and those who have it can’t stop raving about it.
It was just last year that the Florida Horse Park put Polytrack in its competition rings and throughout this winter season, it proved its worth. Florida is known for the occasional torrential rain and thus far, Martin Collins’ Florida clients report that no matter how hard it rains, they can ride on. For example, a massive rain right at the start of the Ocala Spring Dressage at the Florida Horse Park didn’t put a damper on that show, reported show secretary Lloyd Landkamer. “With that footing in place, it was just fantastic. The rain didn’t stop anyone from competing.”