Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jean Benoit

Second Advisor

Majid Ghayoomi

Third Advisor

Bill Hawe


Engineered equestrian surfaces are complex systems subject to unique loading. Interest in engineered surfaces has been growing since a properly designed surface boasts better performance, increased safety, and reduced maintenance as compared to other more traditional sand or turf riding surfaces. The goals of engineered riding surfaces are to improve the riding characteristics and horse performance and to reduce maintenance requirements. Research was undertaken to investigate how changes in surface material composition affect geotechnical properties of riding surfaces, and how changes in geotechnical properties affect the riding characteristics. Direct shear testing, Light Weight Deflectometer, and a new custom built Lab Drop Apparatus were used to characterize riding surface materials. Methods for quantitatively evaluating riding surface performance based on these tests are proposed. Two case studies were conducted to compare quantitative analysis methods to qualitative feedback from riders.