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Riding on Hard Ground

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  • Riding on Hard Ground

    I am looking for your insight into training on hard ground.
    A client moved to a barn without an indoor. They plow the rings to keep the snow clear. They add salt to keep the ring from getting too hard. The ground in the ring was already pretty hard there in the fall now with the cold it is even more so.
    The horse is a 8 year old half draft, 1/4 TB, 1/4 QH. He is 16h and the usual draft cross hefty but not fat. He doesn't seem to mind too much, but then he doesn't mind much of anything!. He definitely likes working out in the hunt field on the tall grass MUCH better. I spent most of the summer warming up in the ring then heading out to the grass to jump. However, that is out of the question now, even with snow pads and studs.

    Are there repercussions to working on hard ground? We are not jumping and keeping the rides to about 25 min of simple W/T/C. The farrier does not seem overly worried but I am. I won't work if the ring is frozen solid but the footing is dark and defrosts quickly, even today, so there is mud and hard ground in places!

    There is a possibility of getting sand in the ring by spring but that is months away.

    Thanks all!!

    My concern is for the horse.
    "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo

  • #2
    There can be some issues with hard ground...bruising to the soles, stress on the ligaments and tendons from the concussions, and (over time, and usually only if worked very hard on hard ground) road founder. So, you're right to take it easy.

    I'd think this would be a wonderful time to work on a TON of lateral work...particularly in the walk! If he doesn't already know them, introduce leg yields, turn on forehand, shoulder-in, and see if you can move the haunches in and out.


    • #3
      Yes, there are repercussions to working on hard ground, sidebone, arthritis, etc. However, more of an immediate concern might be riding on a semi-frozen surface. You go along fine on some squishy stuff, and then hit a frozen patch- best case, a stumble, worse, pull a shoe, worse, slip and fall, pull a tendon, etc.

      It's like cutting semi-frozen vegetables or meat, your knife goes in fine, you hit a harder spot, have to change pressure, then when you get cut when your knife goes flying through because you've hit another soft spot and haven't had time to adjust pressure again.

      Like previous poster, lateral work is your friend! It's amazing how much you can do at the walk on crappy footing if you are creative


      • Original Poster

        Thought so...

        Thanks all...
        I was thinking along the same lines, sidebone, ringbone, dreaded navicular syndrome, splints, soft tissue damage, etc... His feet are shod and tough and there are no rocks in the ring, so I am not too worried about sole bruising. But road founder is always on my mind. I walk the ring first to make sure of the bad areas.
        I do lots of lateral work, he knows haunches in, SI, half pass.
        However, he gets bored and he loves to jump. So being a lazy type, this kind of work makes him even sssllooowweeerrr.....
        Can't blame him ;-)
        I think I will work on ground driving more, get in touch with his draft side At least I can ground drive around the property. Maybe I can work on skijorking? This way we both get a work out in!
        And we just got 13 inches of snow!!!
        Come on spring!
        "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo