With the welcome sunshine of summer comes the inevitable hardening of the ground as moisture evaporates and dirt packs down. Firm ground is tricky business for events and eventers. Horse trials organizers spend countless dollars and hours to provide the best footing conditions with aerators, aggravators, irrigation systems (have you seen Chattahoochee Hills’ water cannon?) and wishes for rain.
Only so much can be done to improve dry ground, however, and sometimes competitors withdraw rather than run their horses on noticeably firm going. Hard ground can increase the amount of force on a horse’s joints and soft tissues, which can lead to pain and inflammation in the joints and tendons.
If your horse has run on hard ground, there are ways you can make him comfortable and help prevent problems from developing. Make sure he is properly shod (possibly with shock absorbing pads) and take great care after cross country to cool his joints and soothe his feet. Read more about how to manage horses on hard ground through prevention, identification and treatment.
Laminitis Knowledge: We know the tell-tale sign – a horse leaning back, trying take the weight off of its painful front feet. Laminitis is a complex and tricky disease with potentially debilitating or fatal affects, and every horse and pony is susceptible to it. Here are 10 things you need to know about laminitis. [Horse and Country]
Dental Care: Think your horse has perfect teeth and doesn’t require a dentist? It’s unlikely. In a recent study, only 3% of horses were found to have no dental abnormalities. Over 50% of horses had sharp enamel points and more than 40% had hooks. While older horses are more prone to dental abnormalities, prevention with regular dental exams and records from a young age is advised. [Horsetalk]
Critically Ill Foals: Every breeder hopes for an uneventful birth and a healthy, thriving foal soon standing alongside its proud dam. Unfortunately 3 to 7% of foals have a significant health issue in the first month of life and need intensive care to recover. And there is so much that can go wrong. [The Horse]
Fiber for Hydration: Water is your horse’s most important nutrient. A British equine nutritionist suggests that a high-fiber diet may increase water-holding capacity and therefore help a horse maintain hydration for longer. [Horsetalk]