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Reactive to footing?

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  • Reactive to footing?

    I have a young horse who is delightful at home, but can completely change personality away. He gets very reactive and ADD, and generally unhappy. I am trying to learn his "triggers" and issues, and believe that the basic cure is get him "hauled a lot" to new places as the Western folks say.

    However, I would appreciate experiences in one area in particular. He has great feet and is barefoot on all fours. At my place, my arena is fairly firm, and in fact, I am letting it go to grass on top of the sand. I also ride in my grass field.

    Would it be possible that he is reacting to more slippery footing at new places? I cannot decide if being barefoot makes it more difficult for horses to canter and jump in deeper/sandier footing.

    I do know I previously had a horse that was very reactive to footing. He was shod behind so that was not the issue, but he hated soft/deep/sandy footing. He sort of did the same thing, got angy and was just not himself.

    Anybody here have a horse that is reactive to footing like that? I hate to needlessly experiment with putting shoes on, because it is so nice that he can go barefoot.
    Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

  • #2
    My gelding's not reactive to footing, necessarily, but can be a little odd when the footing is different than he's used to. For example, if I'm using the indoor for a couple of weeks, then move outside, he just moves different for a day or so. He remains his usually happy self, it's just like he's experimenting on where to put his feet. I would suppose that the change in footing from home to a show could affect a more sensitive horse.

    That being said, on a young horse, it's usually more environment than footing when they act up away from home. I detest taking young horses to trailer-in, one-day shows. I prefer to have my young horses tag along to longer shows so they can stable, get used to the grounds, maybe jump a little in the warm up ring, get used to the chaos, etc. Much more effective, although MUCH more expensive!


    • #3
      Well after this past weekend I wonder if the wet rings (puddles) at a show made my horse uneasy jumping. He's green (even though he's 10) but I thought he had gotten over his stopping problems. This past weekend he was not confidently jumping.

      So OP after what I went through this weekend I think footing did affect my horse over the weekend.


      • #4
        If this behavior change is consistent across multiple new venues, I'd guess that it is more about the away from home environment than about the footing. Lots of young horses get a little insecure when leaving home until they figure out that a new place is, well, just a new place, and they get to go home when it's done.

        I find that is particularly the case with youngsters who are used to amenities at home - hours and hours outside in the pasture, etc - that they don't have at shows. Being mostly confined to stalls or handwalked when not being ridden can be hard on one that hasn't learned how to be a horse show horse yet. And you're right - the cure for that is repetition, preferably with other horses that have already learned how, and are ho-hum about it.

        If it is just happening in one particular venue, but the horse is fine going elsewhere, then I'd be inclined to think the horse didn't care for that particular arena.
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.