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Hard ground

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  • Hard ground

    For all of you without an arena or prepared footing, what do you do in the summer when the ground starts getting hard? And how do you decide when the footing is too hard to do more than just walk around? I hate to walk for half the summer, but I also don't want to make my horse footsore or risk her long-term soundness.

  • #2
    Have you considered using pads? I've had a couple that I used pads. One was a mare in the 60's that went off behind and we couldn't find the problem. Farrier suggested putting on pads behind and she was fine. Another gelding I had needed pads in the summer in front as he had really thin soles.

    Talk to your farrier about something that might work for you.

    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


    • Original Poster

      I'll ask my farrier about pads.

      Could anyone else weigh-in about when you decide when "hard" is "too hard"? The ground isn't concrete yet, but its getting pretty bad, and I'm on the fence on whether I should back-off on work.


      • #4
        Okay, I'm going to be quite honest here:

        I never stop riding because of hard ground.

        I walk/trot/canter/gallop my horse on ground that's just about as hard as pavement, just with better traction. (Packed dirt farm roads, hard enough so that no hoofprints are left, but the gravel provides traction.) He has NEVER taken a lame step in the 6 odd years that I've had him, and he has lovely solid, clean legs that everyone always compliments him on.

        Granted, I didn't just yank him out of a life of 8'' arena sand and gallop him on pavement the next day. It took some conditioning. But eventers are big on roadwork for improving leg strength, and I look at this the same way.

        The only time he's ever been sore (sore, not off) was after a show at a venue with way too deep sand. I worry more about deep footing than lack of footing, actually.


        • #5
          I think the answer to this all depends on your horse's soundness history, how much you work her, as well as your plan to manage her when the ground gets hard.

          If she's always been a sound horse with nice clean legs that GoForAGallop is so blessed with, then you may not need to provide as much supportive care. (Totally agree that soft, deep footing is way worse.)

          I have an older horse (16) that I'm eventing at Novice this year and I also admittedly do more supportive care than most people. It might be overkill, but I can sleep at night. So take it with a grain of salt...

          You may want to consider using a little ice on her legs after longer, higher impact workouts and pack some magic cushion in her feet (wear gloves). The occasional gram of bute may also be well-received. I would definitely talk to your farrier about equithane pour-in pads if she has a tendency to get foot sore. I'll also be using some Legend this year when the ground gets hard and I have events within a few weeks of each other. I don't think you need to go that route though (see aforementioned overkill) if she's younger with a good history.

          Lastly, though it is boring don't discredit the benefit of those long walks for keeping your horse fit and supple. I've done quite a bit of work at the walk adding in lateral work while trail riding, transitions to trot and back, and had a very fit, sound supple horse as a result.


          • #6
            As long as that is the same surface I have been riding on, and it gets progressively harder, then I continue to ride. I think he has built up his legs gradually to handle the hardening ground.

            That said, I trailer to my trainers for my 2 hard work days on groomed footing, and do quicker hacks here at home on the hard ground. Usually only 15-20 minutes total and mostly transitions and bending.

            I also would not hesitate to add pads if I thought he needed them.


            • #7
              Originally posted by BigMick View Post
              If she's always been a sound horse with nice clean legs that GoForAGallop is so blessed with, then you may not need to provide as much supportive care. (Totally agree that soft, deep footing is way worse.)

              I have an older horse (16) that I'm eventing at Novice this year and I also admittedly do more supportive care than most people. It might be overkill, but I can sleep at night. So take it with a grain of salt...
              Just wanted to add that my guy is almost 15, so it's not as if I'm galloping a five year old around and he just hasn't happened to break down yet. But yes, I am very very blessed. He's also barefoot. :biggrin:

              I do agree that a lot of it depends on history, and totally agree with the person who said that if it's the same surface that gradually gets harder, the horse is somewhat "weaned" onto it.


              • #8
                I agree with GoForAGallop and Paddy's Mom. As long as the horse is conditioned to it, it may not be ideal but it won't kill them. I also don't like to ride on hard ground with steel shoes--I know there's no proof for this and I don't mean to start a fight with my anecdote, but my personal experience is that horses seem to have more soreness issues and fatigue on hard ground with shoes than without. I prefer to ride barefoot or in hoof boots, which have a bit more give to them.
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