Here's the first part. The second part has pictures but I will type up the words for you...I just thought I should give this finished peice to you since I'm already a few days late. Enjoy!
From The Ground Up
By: Sherry Cervi, with J. Forsberg Meyer
A performance horse takes a lot of pounding on his legs and feet, especially if he competes in speed events. If you run barrels, as I do, your horse is subject to the stresses of sprinting, sudden slow-downs, and sharp turns.
To keep my barrel horses sound over the long haul, I've developed a plan that addresses both the maintenance needs of hard-working legs, and the ground-savvy I need as a rider to give my horses the best chance to perform well and avoid injury.
I'm going to share all my strategies with you. I'll talk first about ground issues, then show you the key ingredients of my leg-maintenance plan.
In a perfect world, every competitive venue would have the same ideal ground, and every horse would run well on it. We don't live in a perfect world, of course, but there are things you can do to improve the odds your horse will perform well and safely at all the events on your schedule.
First, know that horses have their own preferences. Some run better on deeper ground; other prefer their ground a bit harder and slicker. Knowing which your horse favors will guide you when you plan how to compensate for different types of ground.
Then do a little detective work before the event in question to find out what the ground there will be like. Ground conditions can vary for a variety of reasons, and one of them is geographic area. Ground in California and Arizona, for example, tends to be harder and slicker on average, while in Texas and Florida it tends to be deeper and therefore stickier.
How often the ground is groomed can magnify or minimize these differences. For example, at rodeos the ground is typically dragged after every 10 or 12 runs. If you and your horse go toward the end of the set, the “bottom” of the ground, whether deep or shallow, will be more apparent by the time of your run.
By contrast, at single-event venues like jack-pots, the ground is groomed after every 5 or so runs. That equalizes the effect of the ground's depth somewhat, making it a little less critical.
If you don't already know what the ground will be like at the event your attending, call around among people you trust to find out. If possible, don't take just one person's opinion; try to find two or three riders who are familiar with the ground in question and can describe it for you. That way, the individual preferences of their own horses won't overly influence the information you gather.
If it turns out the ground at the event will be different from what you have in your own arena, try to find ground that approximates the event's to make a few practice runs on. For example, if your ground is deep and the event's will be relatively shallower/slicker, see if you can find someone-a neighbor or a friend's place you can haul to?-who has shallow ground you can practice on before the event.
The more prepared you and your horse are, the less chance the ground you run on will slow you down or cause injury.