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 Caring and Owning Horses
 Grooming and Health
 Footing and canter/gallop
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puddleplasher
Clinician



USA
1281 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2011 :  12:12:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit puddleplasher's Homepage Send puddleplasher a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wasn't sure what section to put this in, but I figured "Health" was really the aim of my questions, so here it is.

Around the horse circles around here (folks at the barn, other riders on the trail, etc) I hear a lot of discussion about footing and what's "good" and "not good". In particular I hear comments about what footing a particular person would or would not let their horse canter or gallop on. Problem is, they don't agree on it: one person's "perfect for a gallop!" seems to be another's "They'll be damaged for life!"

So, of the footings below, which would you let your horse run on? (Note that I say "let" not "make" -- I have a horse which would apparently happily run on any of them if given the chance...) Also, why or why not?

1) pavement
2) packed gravel roadway
3) packed gravel roadway with layer of dirt on it (from disuse)
4) firm turf or dirt
5) dirt forest path with gravel on top (added to muddy patches or to smooth the surface for example)
6) dirt forest path, natural condition
7) muddy trail
8) firm beach sand
9) soft beach sand

I've tried to arrange it in rough order from "very hard" to "very soft". I could add "arena bedding" to the list, but since nobody agrees on what THAT should be either, and every arena has different stuff in it, I'll just leave it off.

Myself, I know that pavement impact can be very hard on feet and legs and cause problems, and that soft beach sand is rough on tendons and ligaments -- this is true of people as well as horses -- but what about all the ones in between? I've had some people imply I'm torturing my horse by allowing her to canter on anything except absolutely perfect, fluffy, recently-harrowed arena footing.

'plash

Pepper sez: "Don't forget the horse!!"
'Plash's Ride Log

Colleen
Trainer



Canada
919 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2011 :  1:04:19 PM  Show Profile Send Colleen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would think whatever lessen the impact would be best also would probably depend on weather your horse has shoes or not? JMO

Colleen who hopes to have a horse soon.

The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears -- Arabian proverb

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puddleplasher
Clinician



USA
1281 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2011 :  1:30:22 PM  Show Profile  Visit puddleplasher's Homepage Send puddleplasher a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sure, in general less impact is probably better, my question is where would you draw the line? You're right that it's probably different depending on whether the horse is shod or not -- mine has shoes.

'plash

Pepper sez: "Don't forget the horse!!"
'Plash's Ride Log
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killybean907
Clinician



USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2011 :  3:08:59 PM  Show Profile Send killybean907 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I will do firm dirt as long as its not full of roots. No pavement, not firm gravel paths or roadways if it's anything above a slow canter or lope. If there are a lot of loose stones on the surface and it's firm, that's out for me too in case of getting a stone bruise, etc. His stride will tell me if he's comfortable on the footing though...if it's a relaxed normal stride at a working trot, then fine. He does NOT like a gravelly path and will shorten his stride and you can feel he's not relaxed.

Deep sand (more than 4 inches) is out for your above reason too.




It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.
Karen-Anchorage, Alaska
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Cayuse
Beginning Rider



Canada
144 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2011 :  8:53:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit Cayuse's Homepage Send Cayuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As you said there is no consistancy among what would be chosen. for me I take in account whether the horse is shod, the type of foot it has, it's fitness level, its surefootedness, and the fact that I don't own the horse. There are probably other things I'm forgetting--I haven't trail ridden in nearly ten years. Sigh.

1) pavement---- never
2) packed gravel roadway--no
3) packed gravel roadway with layer of dirt on it (from disuse)----with not completely compacted gravel I have on a well legged up fit horse (all small pebbles)
4) firm turf or dirt------many times
5) dirt forest path with--- gravel on top (added to muddy patches or to smooth the surface for example)----didn't have groomed trails
6) dirt forest path, natural condition---many times. in area free of tree roots though
7) muddy trail---yes
8) firm beach sand--never experienced
9) soft beach sand----never experienced

As for arena footing, ours around here (some kind of gravel sand type stuff) gets as hard as cement in well traveled areas and the coaches still have the horses doing lope and jump work and doesn't seem to bother the horses.
if I got back out trail riding again I'd probably be alot more nervous about the footing.

Cayuse
A lovely horse is always an experience...It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. Beryl Markham
Riding is a complicated joy. You learn something each time. It is never quite the same, and you never know it all. Monica Dickens
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EZ2SPOT
Clinician

USA
3743 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2011 :  4:01:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit EZ2SPOT's Homepage Send EZ2SPOT a Private Message  Reply with Quote
1) pavement - no way!!!
2) packed gravel roadway - no
3) packed gravel roadway with layer of dirt on it (from disuse)- maybe
4) firm turf or dirt - yes
5) dirt forest path with gravel on top (added to muddy patches or to smooth the surface for example)- probably not
6) dirt forest path, natural condition - maybe
7) muddy trail - no way
8) firm beach sand - yes
9) soft beach sand - no

I feel two of the most dangerous surfaces for speed are hard pavement and mud. The first because of impact, and the second because of worry about tendon injuries.

Now, when you say "run", just what do you mean? I would be more picky about the footing for an all-out gallop, than for an easy canter.

Got to say here, just about all my trail riding is done at a walk, with an occasional trot. You just never know what might be around the corner, and I would not want to run up to, or in back of, another rider. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't extend me that same courtesy!

EZ2SPOT

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puddleplasher
Clinician



USA
1281 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2011 :  12:33:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit puddleplasher's Homepage Send puddleplasher a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The reason I ask is I've gotten dismayed looks from people at the barn about letting Pepper gallop on this one section of the trail near the barn. The "trail" is a maintenance right-of-way for the fence around a reservoir -- it's the chain link fence you see in a lot of my "trail" pictures. In many ways it's a great place to gallop because it is over a quarter mile long, cleared fifteen to twenty-five feet wide, and straight as an arrow so it has great visibility, you can see anything coming LONG before you get to it. It even has a slight uphill pitch to make it a really good workout. This particular stretch was probably gravelled at some point, but between years of leaves, foot traffic, and the occasional manure pile, there's a good layer of dirt on top and mixed in with whatever the original surface was. To me, it seems like a pretty good compromise between enough traction to get some "bite" and enough firmness to prevent tendon strains or slipping.

Frequently, the people who seem dismayed that'd I'd let her gallop there will also in the next sentence say that they rarely even trot when out on trails anyway. They clearly have different horses than mine; Pepper LOVES to run, and at least this place seems somewhat safe to let her do so. (She, for example, seems to think that cantering around tight corners on a single-track hilly trail in a forest you've never been in before is a grand idea, no matter what I tell her about the possibility of other trail users, downed logs, or pits full of spikes around the next bend. So I don't let her do that.) If she didn't get to gallop all-out on this straight stretch, she probably wouldn't get to do it much ever. And she runs well, never crossfires or bangs herself up.

Someday I'll get her to a beach and see what she thinks of that. But meanwhile, I wanted to know if there's something the other folks at the barn know that I don't...

On a separate note, Pepper and I have entered our first ACTHA trail competition, scheduled for a few weeks from now. Wish us luck! The competition will be stiff.

'plash

Pepper sez: "Don't forget the horse!!"
'Plash's Ride Log
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Hook
Trail Boss (Moderator)



Canada
5968 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2011 :  05:05:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit Hook's Homepage Send Hook a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by puddleplasher

The reason I ask is I've gotten dismayed looks from people at the barn about letting Pepper gallop on this one section of the trail near the barn. The "trail" is a maintenance right-of-way for the fence around a reservoir -- it's the chain link fence you see in a lot of my "trail" pictures. In many ways it's a great place to gallop because it is over a quarter mile long, cleared fifteen to twenty-five feet wide, and straight as an arrow so it has great visibility, you can see anything coming LONG before you get to it. It even has a slight uphill pitch to make it a really good workout. This particular stretch was probably gravelled at some point, but between years of leaves, foot traffic, and the occasional manure pile, there's a good layer of dirt on top and mixed in with whatever the original surface was. To me, it seems like a pretty good compromise between enough traction to get some "bite" and enough firmness to prevent tendon strains or slipping.

Frequently, the people who seem dismayed that'd I'd let her gallop there will also in the next sentence say that they rarely even trot when out on trails anyway. They clearly have different horses than mine; Pepper LOVES to run, and at least this place seems somewhat safe to let her do so. (She, for example, seems to think that cantering around tight corners on a single-track hilly trail in a forest you've never been in before is a grand idea, no matter what I tell her about the possibility of other trail users, downed logs, or pits full of spikes around the next bend. So I don't let her do that.) If she didn't get to gallop all-out on this straight stretch, she probably wouldn't get to do it much ever. And she runs well, never crossfires or bangs herself up.

Someday I'll get her to a beach and see what she thinks of that. But meanwhile, I wanted to know if there's something the other folks at the barn know that I don't...

On a separate note, Pepper and I have entered our first ACTHA trail competition, scheduled for a few weeks from now. Wish us luck! The competition will be stiff.

'plash



I think you are right on with your thoughts about a safe place to run. Hookie would love your quarter mile stretch and maybe he could talk Pepper into a little race, just for fun of course. He might even talk her into running a few barrels if she really likes to run.

Good luck on the trail competition. Looking forward to the pictures.

My thought is that you have three concerns about the surface that it is to safe ride on. Uniformity, concussion and traction.


1) pavement - too hard and slippery - walk carefully
2) packed gravel roadway - better but walk , jog, slow lope maybe depending on how packed.
3) packed gravel roadway with layer of dirt on it (from disuse)- walk,trot,canter or gallop
4) firm turf or dirt - just about perfect for what ever you want. No quick stops or turns when wet
5) dirt forest path with gravel on top (added to muddy patches or to smooth the surface for example)- okay for walk trot and slow canter depending on actually footing and visibility
6) dirt forest path, natural condition -okay for walk trot and slow canter depending on actually footing and visibility
7) muddy trail - walk carefully
8) firm beach sand - walk,trot,canter or gallop if it is consistent
9) soft beach sand - walk carefully

Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Edited by - Hook on 03/04/2011 05:14:02 AM
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ILoveJoe
Clinician



USA
2469 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2011 :  11:03:27 PM  Show Profile Send ILoveJoe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The only two surfaces I would be cautious on are the pavement and the soft sand.
Concussion injuries would be my concern on pavement, and pulling tendons and ligaments would be my concern on too deep of footing.
Next time you are being peeped by the "dismayed" let Pepper have her head and give them all a big Huzzah! ;)




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