The ground…………and looking after those precious legs
Working horses in the summer can provide many challenges, and not the least of which can be the ground.
A wet spring followed by a dry spell and poached gateways are turned to rutted ankle breakers for humans and fetlock twisters for horses!
I am incredibly lucky to have a TROT ride (Toll Ride Offroad Trust) at home, which gives me 15 miles of offroad riding on my doorstep -it is bliss, out of reach of the school run mothers and commuting drivers, who whilst have got used to me, still think it is a pain to slow down for me! But, avoiding the traffic aside, the tracks are brilliant for getting and keeping horses fit. I can canter, and in some places practice circles for dressage – all on grass, which i think really helps for when you go to an event – training on a similar surface means your horse is used to the feeling under their when going round a corner or jumping a fence.
This though does provide certain challenges when the ground has firmed up. I agonize as to whether to go to the all weather gallops during hard periods – but Henry hates with a passion working on gallops, switches off and frankly doesn’t try! So I try, whatever the ground to work at home. Long, and very slow canters seem to work really well for him in preparation for an event-the odd pheasant popping up keeps us both on our toes and the undulations of working on a rig and furrow field keep him foot sure and prepared for any eventuality when going cross country at an event.
As the ground is firm at home at the moment, when i have cantered i make sure i cool legs down as soon as i get home. I pop on cold water boots( that i put on to soak before i go out) as soon as we get home, untack and wash off and then either ice vibe boots or ice packs for 15 minutes. The ice vibe boots are great – using vibration to really help cool deep in to the tendons. If i am working more than one horse i only have one set of ice vibes, so i use ice cube packs, bought from the supermarket they are so easy to fill and freeze and wrap brilliantly round a leg – and i then put the cold water boot over the top to hold them in place- So as not to damage skin and tissue with the ice packs i use either green jay cloths or equisox, the latter are great as they provide support for the leg – just like you putting on a knee support! Both cooling methods are brilliant, and it just depends what mood i am in to what i use.
Enjoy the sunshine!