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Riding on hard ground

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  • Riding on hard ground

    While riding this morning I got to wondering, will riding on hard ground have an adverse effects on my horse? This winter all of my riding will be limited to trails and in the pasture that the BO has set up for riding in. We are only going to be doing walk/trot for now and leave the cantering for when I am in a real arena.
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
    The Blog

  • #2
    Riding on surfaces with varying degrees of hardness, softness and depth may actually be quite beneficial for any horse. Work on varying surfaces will challenge muscles and tendons differently and help to complete fitness.

    You must consider the horse's soundness as hard ground may exacerbate bone and joint problems while deep and soft footing may aggravate soft tissue problems.

    Comment


    • #3
      I've always been more leary of soft ground than hard. But this drought made everything so hard that even the fields were getting a bit scarey. I started a topic here, but no one else seemed concerned. The responses I got were that it would probably be good for him

      My horse stayed sound all summer. I did use Magic Cushion packing through the worst of it.
      ::With age comes wisdom. Apparently "wisdom" weighs about 40 pounds.::

      Comment


      • #4
        In the UK, it is called "legging up". Doing walk and slow trot on hard surfaces is thought to strengthen tendons.
        When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

        Comment


        • #5
          I always ride on grass/pasture at home as I don't have a sand arena yet. My horses are barefoot but have boots with studs for slick conditions. I've been doing this for a number of years, and never had any issues (knocking wood). I am more leary to deep sand for tendons.

          I'm schooling first level dressage, FWIW.

          Comment


          • #6
            I would be careful if you are riding on hard ground all the time and would minimize the pounding. I have no indoor and ride outside all year round. When the ground is very hard I do a lot of walking.
            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Auburn View Post
              In the UK, it is called "legging up". Doing walk and slow trot on hard surfaces is thought to strengthen tendons.
              I always wondered what legging up meant!

              I have been blessed with an extremely hardy horse (knock on wood) so far we haven't run into any soundness issues. I am taking it slow and working her up as she had a couple months off and is fat and sassy right now. Glad to hear that it sounds like this shouldn't cause any issues.
              Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
              The Blog

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                I would be careful if you are riding on hard ground all the time and would minimize the pounding. I have no indoor and ride outside all year round. When the ground is very hard I do a lot of walking.

                I agree. Riding on hard ground all the time, particularly at the trot and canter can create joint issues and aggravate any arthritis or joint issues that may already be present. Walking on hard ground is fine but I would be very careful about working a horse on hard frozen ground at the trot and canter. I too often ride outside in the winter months and once the sand in the arena freezes there is not much I can do aside from walking out on the trails until we get a nice snow fall. Once it snows however the footing can often be nice and fluffy and conducive to some trot and canter work if it is not too slick.
                My horse at 21 has some arthritis normal for his age but he has been consistently sound and never suffered a soft tissue injury over the years while in my care. I believe this is largely due to my extreme caution in choosing what work he does on a particular day based on the footing I have beneath us and paying very close attention to how he feels working on that footing. If it is overly hard or soft/mushy we stick to walking.

                "Legging up" as they call it usually refers to long, slow rides on hard but consistent surfaces like dirt or paved roads. Yes there often is some trotting involved but it is mostly walking.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My first horse when I was a teenager developed early arthrits and had to be retired from riding on hard ground. The only place to ride was on clay baked in the sun. I spent many days riding in my makeshift ring there wearing a groove in the ground. Of ocurse I did not know that ridiing on hard ground would cause injury I was only 16 with no instruction just riding for fun. Then she developed hock problems and vet said she would need joint injections to maintain soundness and be in less pain. I found a lovely person who wanted a low level 4H horse and I retired her at the age of 12.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Stay away from hard ground, it stresses the horses bones and joints.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Soft or deep footing you have a greater risk of tendon or ligament injuries. Hard ground is more stable but hard on joints. I think walking on hard ground is good for tendons and ligament.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post

                        My horse stayed sound all summer. I did use Magic Cushion packing through the worst of it.
                        I just looked up Magic Cushion -- never heard of it. How long did you leave it on? Did you use a boot, or the paper bag wrapping? I generally don't stall my girl because my boarders don't stall theirs. Tell me more about Magic Cushion!

                        I'm also curious about these studded boots! My horse is barefoot, and at risk for joint issues (5 yr old OTTB with chips removed from both front ankles). I broke down and ordered Cosequin ASU and FlexForce HA -- planning a trial of them soon.

                        I am also considering putting a sand track around my roundpen, but I have longterm plans of an arena elsewhere and hate to kill the grass.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lisa327 View Post
                          I just looked up Magic Cushion -- never heard of it. How long did you leave it on? Did you use a boot, or the paper bag wrapping? I generally don't stall my girl because my boarders don't stall theirs. Tell me more about Magic Cushion!
                          My horse is shod and is kept stalled part time, and turned out part time. The packing would stay in for 2-4 days without a boot or wrapping. After filling the shoe I just pat a handful of sawdust onto it to keep it from sticking to the rubber floor mat an d sucking out in one big blob. When I picked his hoof, I would scratch the surface of the sand/sawdust mixture with the pick until I began to see the Magic Cushion product instead. When it appeared to be almost gone I'd clean it out and repack.
                          ::With age comes wisdom. Apparently "wisdom" weighs about 40 pounds.::

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mlb722 View Post
                            My horses are barefoot but have boots with studs for slick conditions. I've been doing this for a number of years, and never had any issues (knocking wood). I am more leary to deep sand for tendons.
                            Cavallo boots? I have been wondering about issues with torque and boots with studs because unlike a shoe, the boot still moves a bit on the horse's foot.

                            My horse is barefoot but I ride in boots when I foxhunt. There have been times when I would have considered drilling a set of Cavallos for studs but worried that they might cause different problems. We're galloping and jumping over uneven terrain.

                            Curious to know which boots you are using since it seems like you're happy with the solution.
                            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              My mare has good feet for the most part (cracking and chipping in the summer are an issue) and she is barefoot. I was looking at hoof boots earlier on eBay wondering if they would add more traction in the winter?
                              Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                              The Blog

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I use magic cushion too, that does help. I thought about using magic cushion, then placing those trail boots on the front feed in conjunction with the magic cushion on my more sensitive feet.

                                The only time I notice a real problem with my horses legs/feet is when I ride down the dirt roads, that's hard on them. Otherwise, I ride in fields with taller grass. I think the grass makes it softer. I watch the weather carefully too and try to ride right after some precipitation since it makes it soft...I live in Colorado so hard ground can be an issue.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Walking and some trotting can be very beneficial. It's when you start doing a pot of galloping and jumping that that hard can really take a toll (this is why I always avoided eventing around here in July and August, as the ground is rarely anything but concrete that time if year).

                                  I like to do a lot of walking on the dirt roads around up and have seen good results from it.
                                  Amanda

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Skyedragon View Post
                                    My mare has good feet for the most part (cracking and chipping in the summer are an issue) and she is barefoot. I was looking at hoof boots earlier on eBay wondering if they would add more traction in the winter?
                                    No, hoof boots do not improve traction. In snowy or icy conditions they are worse than barefoot. I've had horses that are barefoot all year. We use boots when the ground is very hard but never when there's snow or ice. A bare hoof offers good traction. At least for me, if it's too slippery to ride barefoot, it's too slippery to ride. The only way to add more traction is borium studs on shoes and borium creates other issues, such as increasing the torque on a horse's legs by creating too much traction!
                                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Yes, if the situation suits.

                                      There are several things to consider regarding riding on the paved / sealed road.

                                      1/ Hard surfaces are terrific for building up soft tissue strength. However, riding on hard ground may exacerbate bone and joint problems.

                                      2/ A slow 'collected' trot will shift the impact more evenly back into the rear feet, relieving front end impact.

                                      3/ A good supplement for joints will greatly help any horse. I like Vet Lab Anti-Flex. It has a good combination of Hyaluronic Acid, MSM, Chondroitin Sulfate, and Glucosamine.

                                      4/ Like any change to a horse's lifestyle, make all changes gradually, and keep an eye out for any changes.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        look up "limb loading" - hard ground is NOT bad for joints or bones once the horse is in shape - this does not mean cardiovascularly. it takes roughly 6 mo to see any noticeable improvement in tendon/ligament remodeling.

                                        lots of walking for 2-3 weeks typically, followed by slow weekly increases in trot work.

                                        i used to leg up for 2 UL eventers - their regime was about 2 m trot on pavement 1st week in intervals, 4m second week, 5m third week, up to 10 m trotting 3x interval.. this was in training for the long format so much has changed since then..
                                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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