We must never forget how important it is to regulate the other aspects of working a horse. Some riders have difficulty identifying when a horse is put under too much pressure during ridden work and overexertion is not always obvious. Frisky and nervous horses can appear to be alert straight away but it takes time to loosen them up and finally ride them with driving aids. They can frequently spook. Some time after riding such horses we should visit them in the stable to check and reassure them. If they are standing listlessly they may be tired, in which case the training should be adjusted accordingly. Also, if a horse is still out of sorts an hour after being ridden, his temperature should be taken.

Horses can lose the desire to eat when changing from life in the field to the stable. The young horse can also have hooks on his teeth that prevent him chewing. Care of the young horse’s teeth is therefore very important. However, the most important subject is care of the legs.

Tendons and joints should be inspected regularly; if a horse has warm tendons or swollen joints these are often clear signs of overwork.

An experienced groom who cares for the horse every day will notice such things and certainly feeling the legs should be part of the daily routine. However, the trainer may wish to do this personally for peace of mind and a responsible trainer will want to be aware on a daily basis of anything out of the ordinary.

To prevent leg problems it is a good idea to hose the legs after training (weather permitting) and to follow this with a brief massage. To do this one strokes a flat hand down the tendons and over the fetlock. In certain circumstances medicated ointment can be rubbed into the leg, after seeking advice from the vet.

One cannot be too careful with young horses and should not leave things until a problem occurs.

It goes without saying that regular care of the feet is most important. To prevent the hooves becoming brittle they should be greased after washing (not before riding). Working on good surfaces, it is perfectly possible for young horses to work unshod until their first competition, but the advice of the farrier should be taken regarding foot problems and keeping the feet trimmed at regular intervals. For jumping training and riding cross-country on grass, studs on the hind shoes are useful.

Finally, daily turnout in the paddock or field is very important. When the horse has a day off he should be allowed to relax in the field to keep him mentally healthy.

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