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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last Saturday we had a lesson out in the pasture. I was hoping that doing some cantering where I didn't have to worry about which lead I was on, or managing a tight space, would help me figure out what my body was supposed to be doing. It did! It was really useful. I'd like to do it again, but the ground is starting to get hard. We have terrible heavy clay soil. I took some pictures.

What I'm wondering is, is it worse for the horses to be ridden out in the pasture, where the ground is hard, but there are no tight turns or small circles, or in the arena (full size dressage arena) with sand? Pony is still finding his balance with me on top of him, although we did a lot better today than in the past (I think because of the pasture lesson) and neither of us appreciates all of the turns we have to make in the arena. On the other hand, Moonshine has significant arthritis in one stifle (it's being managed with two kinds of injections, and it doesn't seem to be causing her any discomfort). Not to mention Pony is kind of, well, pony-shaped.

When we rode out there last weekend, they both did really well and seemed quite happy. Is that a sign that we can keep doing it? It was SO beneficial to me, but I won't keep doing it if it's going to hurt them.
 

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You know, that's a good question. I don't even have the option of a riding arena, so what you posted pictures of looks like about the best I can ever hope for where I live. We have clay too (and it's also dry and cracking this time of year). But at least there aren't many rocks in ground like that. I spend a lot of time avoiding rocks when my horse is completely barefoot (and booted if I know I'm going to be riding in rocks). So my knee-jerk reaction is that is great footing because- no rocks! BUT my horse, who is about 18 years old, just had a big bump on her splint bone show up just recently. :frown_color: I thought it was because I had been doing more cantering lately but you know, it could be the hard ground contributing to it. The ground is hard here more often than not, and no arena, so I never really thought about it being TOO hard.

So that's a good question. When the ground is always hard you sometimes forget that the ground is hard. Hmm. :think:
 

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I don't have an arena at my current barn, so I always rode in the pasture. Lately, I've been riding in the makeshift 'arena' pasture they made now (it was an old pasture but they turned it into a riding area), so I don't mess up the pasture where the horses are. :lol: The ground was getting a bit beat up.

In the makeshift 'arena', the ground is not hard. Lots of soft grass. But when I did have to ride in the pasture, WHEN the ground was hard (since it'd get a bit beat up where I rode around in it so many times, the grass would die lol) I sometimes used trail boots, that seemed to help a bit. :)

Although sand is definitely more ideal. However, I'm a trail rider & we ride on all types of terrain LOL. :lol: But that's why I use the trail boots for support. My horse is barefoot too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So, if the ground is hard, but there's grass on it, does that mitigate it a little? Maybe enough to make a difference, if we're not riding out there TOO much?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When you use trail boots, do you use them on all fours? Or do some people do them like shoes, and only do two feet?

I like the idea of just keeping an eye on it. I have to say, Moonshine is just much happier being ridden out in the pasture than in the arena. As long as it's not hurting her, I think we will keep doing it. Pony is basically made of iron, so I'm not too worried about him. Although he was pretty tired by the time we ended that session -- I don't think I had ever cantered him so much in one sitting, LOL.
 

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If they have good hard feet then shouldn't be an issue as long as there are no holes, no rocks and cracks are not large, you are not asking for a long, hard run and you aren't keeping it going forever and a day. If it helps you get your seat then it is a tool to use. You could use boots on the legs and/or trail boots to help if you are worried about concussion.

I don't miss those clays.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@tinyliny thanks for the tip. Our instructor actually made a point of telling us the same thing. So no tight turns at speed, small circles, etc. Which is fine with me. I just want to canter; small turns are the last thing on my mind right now.
@QtrBel yes I'm really looking forward to the soil at our new place -- light clay with an overlay of sandy loam. I guess sand can bring its own problems, but there's always something wrong with this stupid clay. Too hard, too soft, slick, horses up to their knees in it, can't pick hooves, etc. etc. etc.
 

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If the ground is really hard, I avoid schooling for tight turns or hard stops. I will perform both if the work calls for it.
 

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Anytime I ride on grass, whether it's bone-dry-rock-hard or whether is muddy-slippy-just-rained, I do not ask for abrupt stops or tight turns. Horses can and will slip on grass, hard ground, or mud.



It's ground. I think your horses will be just fine out and about!!!


Are your horse's pastured or stalled? If pastured, well, they run around on ground like that on their own!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Are your horse's pastured or stalled? If pastured, well, they run around on ground like that on their own!!
That's a REALLY good point! Yes, they are out on that exact same ground 24/7, so it's not like I'm adding something totally new to them.
 

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Your hard ground looks vastly softer than any ground my horses ever experience. My "arena" is uneven and roughly the softness of concrete. Trails have rocks, are uneven and and leave no hoof prints. Their corral is equally hard. If one goes to dig a hole here, you use a pick or a jackhammer - yes, a JACKHAMMER - to break the surface and make a 6" hole. Then fill with water, wait an hour, and start digging - 6" at a time, filling with water to soften the way ahead. A "caliche bar" - a 6' long piece of steel about 1.5 inches thick - helps. The only time they see sand is in a wash:


Tight turns are done in the arena, such as it is. Or spooks, although Bandit doesn't do those often any more. My arena:

 
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