Looking After Your Competition Horse’s Legs with Gemma Tattersall
PROTECT TO PERFORM!
When it comes to looking after your competition horse’s legs top professional event rider Gemma Tattersall has a wealth of experience producing, training and riding event horses. In this feature she gives readers some essential top tips for looking after your horse’s legs, regardless of your chosen discipline.
Whatever level you ride at or discipline, you should always consider your horse’s health and well-being and that goes for his legs too! Accidents and injuries sadly do happen, but you can help minimize leg trauma by being sensible in your approach to exercise and how you physically protect your horse’s legs.
Ground conditions are a key consideration over the summer months and that includes your sand arena. Be careful working a horse in deep sand and on hard ground to avoid leg issues. If the ground is rock hard, sometimes it is better to save your horse for another day when the going is better.
“You can help minimize leg trauma by being sensible in your approach to exercise and how you physically protect your horse’s legs”
Cooling Legs Down
I always recommend cold hosing or icing your horses legs after a work-out or competition, whatever the season, but in the summer months, this is especially important as the horses’ legs will naturally heat up with protective boots or bandages on, no matter how breathable the product and therefore its imperative to cool them down thoroughly, then allow the skin to breath, before bandaging or booting up to load back on the lorry to travel home.
There is an aged saying ‘No foot – no horse’ which still remains true and its imperative to work with a good farrier to get the shape and angle of the foot correct. Bad shoe-ing can have a detrimental effect on your horses legs and way of going, so its important to get this right and keep your regular shoe-ing appointments in the diary to ensure a sound horse.
Warning signs – Heat & Swelling
If your horse develops heat and swelling in his leg, then don’t be tempted to ignore it for the sake of a competition. I never run my horses with questionable swellings on their legs, even if it is just bruising from a knock. Light work for a few days is essential and if symptoms do not improve then seek veterinary advice.
Some horses also require additional support and protection in the stable and so stable boots and stable bandages are ideal for this, however the latter can cause problems if not done with care, through over-tightening the bandages or the opposite and them falling down over night!
Whatever you plan to do this season, looking after your competition horse’s legs will make sure both you and your horse can enjoy a healthy and trouble free summer – Good luck!