We always crave for a good summer but when competing horses is involved it can cause just as much of a predicament for us with fine weather also meaning harder ground. The questions we might often ask ourselves are 'what events should I ride at?, how many should I do?, how should I alter my training?.'
Hard ground can have an effect on the horse’s legs, especially the joint structures of the distal limb which absorb a lot of the concussive forces. Common injuries than can present following periods of riding on hard ground are joint concussive injuries, bruised soles, splints, tendon injuries or concussive laminitis. You may notice changes in your horse becoming unsound, shortening its stride (most commonly the forelimb), they start refusing fences or are unwilling to travel forward.
To safeguard their joints and prevent tendon or bony injury here are a few tips which you might find beneficial to protect your horses from injury due to hard ground.
Change your training by perform more interval based training or lowering the speed of any fast work.
Ensure you have a good warm up and cool down to prepare your horse for its work.
Do more riding on a softer surface or in a school if the ground out hacking is particularly hard or rutted.
Keep your horse’s feet well maintained with correct foot balance from your farrier and a wise choice of shoes or pads.
Keep your horses hoof flexible and able to absorb load by keeping it well moisturised and
Cold hose or ice your horse’s legs after working to alleviate heat and inflammation.
Especially if it is hot, be wise as to what boots you use to protect your horses legs, make sure they are able to alleviate some of the heat created by the distal structures of the limb when working.
Riding on hard ground is not necessarily a bad thing, but understand your own horses needs and ride appropriately so you can enjoy the longevity of your competition season and riding.