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road work and strengthening tendons

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  • road work and strengthening tendons

    So I've heard some people say that road work helps strengthen a horse's tendons. Is this true? Do you do road work with your horse? How often?

  • #2
    Shock loading of legs tends to result in thickened tendons, ligaments and bone with greater mechanical properties. I road work at least 3 days a week (try to make it 5) for 15-30 minutes on a hilly dirt road.



    • #3
      Interesting thought, i completely agree with your perspective


      • #4
        I was grooming for a 4* rider in Europe for a while and she SWORE by it. Said it strengthens tendons and ligaments and also builds up bone density. I did my conditioning work on hills but I also walked her horses on hard roads three days a week. Often I would ride one and pony another since it was just for the walking on hard ground piece of the "fitness puzzle"
        The rebel in the grey shirt


        • #5
          I used to always spend March on the roads. By that time of year in Massachusetts, with no indoor available, the footing was impossible in the ring or woods. Most days I'd walk for an hour on the tar, then 2-3 times a week, I'd add some trot. I only trotted on the flat or up hill, NEVER down hill bc of the borium. By the end of the month the trot work would probably be a total of about 40 minutes on those 2-3 days. That horse never took a lame step until he'd been retired for 6 years and BLEW his SSFT in his field. Now, in Maine, the drivers around here think it is their job to clear the streets of any animals, including horses, so I stick to my own fields and woods. I guess I'm glad the ground here gets so hard?
          Short answer? Yes, road work is good for legs, as Reed said. Be careful, build up to it slowly, keep your trot slow and light.
          Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


          • #6
            Good to know stuff. Our nearest road is a killing zone for anything on four legs. With the winter coming that's going to be a toughie. Would a gravel driveway be hard enough?


            • #7
              When I was young, we used to hack miles on hard surfaced roads to and from hunt fixtures. Very few people had trailers.

              Now I believe that both my horse and I are fit to hunt when we can trot for at least five miles on pavement without stopping. It does take a very long time to get in that shape. Building up by 15 minute blocks over months is what has worked in the past for me.
              "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
              Thread killer Extraordinaire


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                When I was young, we used to hack miles on hard surfaced roads to and from hunt fixtures. Very few people had trailers.

                Now I believe that both my horse and I are fit to hunt when we can trot for at least five miles on pavement without stopping. It does take a very long time to get in that shape. Building up by 15 minute blocks over months is what has worked in the past for me.

                I guess my horse is fitter than I thought. I did some road work(pavement and gravel) with him the other day, and we did like 4-5 miles non-stop, and he wasn't even breathing hard. In fact he was still a hyper retard. hahaha.


                • #9
                  I used hard-packed dirt/clay roads.... Of course I was in the desert and the ground was pretty hard to begin with.
                  The rebel in the grey shirt


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by forestergirl99 View Post
                    I guess my horse is fitter than I thought. I did some road work(pavement and gravel) with him the other day, and we did like 4-5 miles non-stop, and he wasn't even breathing hard. In fact he was still a hyper retard. hahaha.
                    It is not that you are supposed to actually work the horse on the hard ground. That destroys the joints. Simple walking for around a minimum of 20 minutes stimulates tenocytes, osteoblasts and generates micro damage that induces a growth and healing response in the tissues at a cellular level. This is the GOOD part of road work. You will never notice if a horse is fit or not (unless they are REALLY unfit) during road work. But 4 miles is a good distance to get the growth process going.



                    • #11
                      It was, and still is for some, a common part of training for race horses in Europe, pic1, pic 2, esp NH horses.


                      • #12
                        I wonder if this thread would have even been possible in the 50s and 60s?

                        Hacking then was just something riders did. The titanic post WW2 population growth, and all that suburban sprawl made what was once routine into a traffic plagued nightmare for thousands of current riders.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
                          It was, and still is for some, a common part of training for race horses in Europe, pic1, pic 2, esp NH horses.
                          Hunters and eventers too.

                          We used to walk,trot 5 to 9 miles 3 times a week,then walk a mile each way up to the gallops at least twice a week.
                          \"I have lived my life-it is nearly done-.I have played the game all round;But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to Horse and Hound\".


                          • #14
                            Like it or not it's become part of my routine. I don't have a real ring to ride in, and after monsoon rains like we've had my fields are too slick to do much of anything (I have ~13 acres, but it's hilly and uneven and clay based soil). So if I want to get out and ride, I gotta ride the roads.

                            I have a 4mi, a 6 mi, and an 8 mi loop, all paved roads with varying amounts of traffic. I can get on the verge about 1/3 to 1/2 of each loop, and I do whenever possible. I don't trot much, except for a spot or two that I want to get past as fast as possible, maybe 2 minute's worth of trot on pavement. Otherwise we go at a good brisk walk, and on the low-to-zero traffic roads I'll put him together a bit and do some dressage work at the walk. I do that once or twice a week, usually the shorter loops.

                            I do have places to trailer to to ride, but I don't always have that extra travel time available, so road-riding it is. And yesterday's ride was a good-un, cause it was breezy AND it was trash day. Lots of teachable moments there!