What are the issues that can arise with hard ground?
Although many of us are glad that winter is over and therefore so are the deep, muddy conditions that come with it, Summer can bring a whole new set of problems for horse owners.
Hard ground can increase the potential for injury to tendons, ligaments, joints, bones and muscles, as they are less able to absorb the shock of your horse's weight as it comes into contact with the unforgiving ground which then travels back up through your horse's feet and legs.
A properly fit horse will of course adapt to minor unevenness in the ground, but especially faster work on very uneven or poached ground which has dried out and baked hard can also result in injuries to bones and connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons, as they may over-extend as the horse's hooves land on unforgiving and sometimes quite deep depressions or humps in the ground.
Hooves can become dry, brittle and struggle to expand and contract. Breakage, especially around nails and clenches (along with lost shoes as a result) is particularly common. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to look into what you can do to help them cope with hard ground.
What can you do to minimise the impact of hard ground?
- Use a hoof moisturiser to nourish and protect the hoof, whilst still letting it breathe. Equine America Hoof Balm is the ideal product to use all year round - in dry conditions it provides excellent moisturising properties, whilst in winter it provides a water barrier against wet conditions.
- Consider a hoof supplement such containing Biotin to promote strong, healthy hooves from the inside out. Biotin Xtra Powder provides a full 20mg biotin per 50g daily dose, as well as zinc, methionine, MSM, Calcium & Brewers yeast.
- Support your horse's joints, ligaments and tendons with targeted nutrition such as supplements containing key ingredients known to support joints health. Cortaflex Regular provides key nutritional building blocks for joint support including collagen, amino acids, MSM, hyaluronic acid and trace elements. Cortaflex Super Fenn also contains Boswellia, which known for its anti-inflammatory properties. For those who prefer a product containing Glucosamine, we also produce the high specification Glucosamine 12000 with MSM and HA and our Kentucky Liquid Supplement.
Are there any external products you want use after exercise on hard ground?
Ideally once your horse has been exercised or competed under any strenuous circumstances, if been at a competition or been ridden at home, it is always a good idea to apply a cooling gel or clay. This just allows your horses tendons to recover as well as joint recovery.
- After exercise use a topical cooling gel or cold hose the legs. Equine America's Green Ice Cooling gel is perfect for refreshing tired tendons and joints after exercise or competition.
- Another option is the Equine America's Like Ice Clay which contains SorboplexTM, the special ingredient, it begins working on contact to tighten and cool hot, tired legs after strenuous exercise. The 24-hour Kaolin base cools the leg, while Aloe Vera and Melaleuca soothes and moisturises. Like Ice washes off easily, therefore making it ideal for the busy yard with a lot of horses.
- Where possible, stick to slower paces on extremely hard or uneven ground, and intersperse hacking days with schooling on a well-maintained surface or arena to help avoid injury.
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