One of the joys of horse riding is taking part in strenuous activities like racing, jumping, equine sports and long trail rides. Horses have powerful muscles in their upper bodies, but their legs are relatively weak. Many of the top injuries in horses and ponies involve their legs, especially the ankle or fetlock area. No matter what activities you’re doing with your horse, you can prevent injuries by caring for these vulnerable appendages.
Examine Each Leg Before and After Exercise
Cleaning your horse’s hooves is a critical step both before an after exercise. Check to be sure the shoes are secured correctly and that nothing is stuck inside the hoof wall. Observe the horse as it walks to verify there’s no limping and run your fingers down each leg to check for wounds or burs.
Wrap Legs to Prevent Damage
While there’s some debate over whether leg wraps are really necessary, professionals have relied on horse and pony polo wraps for decades to keep horses from kicking their own ankles, twisting their feet too far or stomping on hard surfaces with too much impact. This is one of the easiest and safest leg protection products available; just make sure to wrap it evenly and allow some give in the wrap.
Provide Therapy To Improve Strength
If you know your horse already has weakness in a leg or two, take extra time to work with those legs, offering stretches, muscle strengthening exercises and special diet to improve toughness and reduce the chances of injury. A veterinarian or horse specialist can give you tips on how to do this well.
A healthy horse or pony can be a precious companion for twenty or more years. Take good care of the most vulnerable part of this majestic creature’s body to ensure both of you can continue your favorite activities for years to come.