Do you know how important the surface in the arena is when it comes to health of your horse? If not, Duncan Peters, who is the owner of Equine Sports Medicine explains it really well. He believes that a well-functioning surface both strengthens the wellbeing of the horse and affects the longevity of the sports horses.
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The hoof and legs need a good footing
Overall, it is important that the horse has a useful footage when working in the arena both in connection with longevity and general health, says Duncan Peters to The Horse. He explains that the interaction of the footage and the mechanics of the shoes either relieve or add stress to the soft tissue of the lower leg.
Duncan Peters emphasizes that a very sticky footing can cause injuries because it overloads the tissue. However, there can also be problems with a very loose surface. This might not be supportive enough for the leg or hoof. The horse can once again overload its muscles, because it must use an unnecessary number of resources in lifting the legs. A bit like when we are running after a football on the beach.
The best footage
To avoid injuries, it is important that the surface allows the tissue to load evenly, providing firm support at maximal loading. Do not encourage sudden changes in pace during training. This can be hard on the tissue. In the arena Duncan Peters believes that a mix of sand and clay combined with a small amount of synthetic fabrics is the ideal surface. The last part, he advices not to overdo, because it can be very different from what the horse experiences at shows.
Introduce different types of surfaces to your horse
As an extra little advice, Duncan Peters says that horse owners should bring their horses to many different types of surfaces. When the horse participates in competitions you cannot be sure that the surface is the exact same as at home, he explains. If the horse is not used to training on sand it can be very stressful at shows where they have sand in the arena. Therefore, out of the arena and start introducing different footings!
This article was originally published in November 2020 and has since been revised and edited.