President and Founder
What You Ride on Matters
When Hilo Nick came to California from Germany in the 1990s, she discovered that it was a challenge to keep her warmbloods sound on ordinary sand and rubber additives—the only thing available in the United States at the time. From that point on, building safe arena surfaces for horses became her mission. And so, in 2004, Footing Solutions USA was born.
Horses have always been a part of Hilo’s life. She grew up riding and jumping Norwegian Fjords in the woods of Germany, later progressing to more serious jumping in her teens. She switched to dressage after a bad fall and has since fallen in love with the sport.
Hilo has always kept strong ties to her native country. When she started Footing Solutions USA, she decided to build horse arenas and surfaces the German way—known throughout the world for their design, safety, and quality.
She began by experimenting with several sands and additives, eventually importing German geotextile sand additives to meet the standards she was accustomed to. Hilo was one of the pioneers in combining fine Silica sand with geotextiles in the United States.
Providing world-class footing and offering exclusive German equestrian products, Footing Solutions USA quickly grew beyond the California borders. While Hilo and her husband, Andre, run Footing Solutions USA together out of their headquarters in Santa Barbara, they also have a production plant in Atlanta, GA to better serve East Coast clients.
Research has shown that footing impacts the performance, health, and longevity of a horse. As a compassionate rider, Hilo understands the biomechanics of the horse and has deep-seated expertise and gifted feel for sand—the most important aspect in any footing.
Because of this, Hilo hand-picks the sand for all of her clients. Always striving to provide the highest-quality base, her knowledge spans far beyond California’s sands. “I LOVE sand,” she says. “You have to have the right feeling for good sand and combine it with the technical and engineering aspects. I never stop searching for even better sand blends and geotextile additives to provide friendly footing to the horses.”
To ensure the best experience and results for her clients, Hilo works closely with American architects and contractors from the planning stages to the final installation.
Beyond the arena footing, Hilo imports the highest-quality building products from Germany to build dream barns. “It is really fun to work with the architectural plans in the beginning and one year later, there is this most beautiful finished barn,” she says
Hilo has been fortunate to work for over a decade with great jumper riders including Mandy Porter, Karl Cook, Simon Nizri, and The Oaks just to name a few. In the dressage world, she has worked with Kathleen Raine, Jo Hinnemann, and Sarah Lockman.
In 2018, Olympic rider Ali Nilforushan asked Hilo to build him his own private jumping arena. He was so impressed with the new footing that he asked Hilo to install the world-class Grand Prix arena footing at the show facility, Galway Downs, in California. She jumped on this opportunity and built the best competition arena on the West Coast.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your horse arena footing or integrate additional style and safety into your barn and arena, we are here to provide you with world-class results. Contact us today to discover the Footing Solutions USA difference.