Get A Handle on Your Footing

Good footing is important for optimizing performance and reducing the risk of lameness. The main reason why sport horses retire early is due to osteoarthritis from constant wear and tear of the joints, sometimes from long-term schooling on bad

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Good footing is important for optimizing performance and reducing the risk of lameness. The main reason why sport horses retire early is due to osteoarthritis from constant wear and tear of the joints, sometimes from long-term schooling on bad footing.


The main symptom of bad footing is decreased performance. A horse might not feel secure enough in his footing to move as well as you know he can, or be as willing to jump or slide if it hurts him. In addition to training difficulties, you also might encounter soft tissue injuries of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.


Horse Movement and Footing


When your horse’s foot hits the ground, it pushes forward and downward on the footing. The foot is still moving when it lands, so the hoof has to be decelerated and brought to a stop before the horse can push off to take another stride or launch himself forward to jump. Good footing allows the hoof to decelerate gradually. With poor footing, the hoof will either keep sliding and strain soft tissue, or stop too quickly and cause joint injury

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Written by:

Sharon Biggs Waller is a freelance writer for equine ­science and human interest publications. Her work has appeared in several publications and on several websites, and she is a classical dressage instructor.

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