Cantering horses on hard ground
In the winter months we worry about splodging through the mud, in the summer we worry about lack of mud. Makes sense hey? The life of a horse owner is a constant rollercoaster of checking the weather, stamping on the ground and checking the grass coverage, in this blog we explore how you can deal with the hard ground to avoid injuries and mishaps:
Cantering horses on hard ground:
If you’re worried about cantering your horse on hard ground the best advice we can give is to get to know your horse. Some horses perform well on firmer ground whereas others prefer deep going. If you get to know what sort of ground your horse likes this will help you determine whether you feel comfortable cantering on hard ground.
There is an increased risk of concussion type leg injuries (particularly to the tendons, ligaments, joints and bones) when the ground is too hard as the force put down by your horse travels back up through the horse’s hooves and legs instead of being absorbed by the ground. If you’re worried about hard ground, try to avoid cantering on it where possible, we recommend maintaining a slower paced gait, walk or trot, so the force going through your horse’s joints isn’t as strong.
Let the legs recover:
The Protechmasta leg wraps can aid recovery by helping to improve the function of the blood vessels, this in turn improves circulation and recovery which reduces swelling and the potential for injury. We recommend bobbing the leg wraps on after ridden work on hard ground, thirty minutes of wear will benefit your horse’s leg and if they can be left on overnight even better!
Dry, brittle hooves:
A perfect level of moisture for a horse’s hoof is 24%, this allows the internal structures of the hoof to expand and contract naturally. When it’s hot and the ground is firm moisture levels in the hoof can drop to around 14% - at this level the condition of the hoof can deteriorate leading to dry hooves that can become brittle. A sign of this is breakage, especially around the nail and clenches. Again, get to know what is “normal” for your horse and start to notice the signs of dry hooves.
Fly protection can help:
Taking extra precautions during “fly season” will help protect your horse’s hooves. Sounds strange right? But horses often stamp or scrape when bothered by the pesky flies, these sorts of repetitive motions can cause injury over time and if your horse is digging at the ground with dry and brittle hooves they will inevitably split over time. Irritable flies can also make you horse gallop around the field to escape the pesky critters, this can lead to concussion injuries as mentioned above as well as losing shoes due to the brittles hoof not being able to hold on to the nails. So, slop on the fly spray, invest in a good fly rug and fly mask and feed your horse garlic to help keep flies and biting insects away.
How you can help your horse:
- Pick your ground. If you’re worried about the hard ground, try to avoid riding on it. Winter is a great time to build up leg stamina, walk and trot on the road for a minimum of 6 weeks during the winter to prepare your horse’s legs for potential hard ground in the summer
- Biotin and Mastacare solid hoof oil can help maintain healthy hooves all year round
- Use fly protection – stock up on fly spray and invest in a good fly rug
- Let your horse’s legs recover – if you need to canter when the ground is firm, don’t do it every day, give your horse a break in between to allow their limbs to recover.