ask the experts
rocks in pasture:
my dressage horses are
due to arrive next week,
and my pastures are
full of rocks! Some are
should i worry?
mostly buried; others are smaller,
and many are a size I can pick up.
I am worried about turning my
horses out where they are likely to
trip over rocks or hurt their hooves.
Will I be endangering my horses
unnecessarily if I don’t remove the
rocks? — Thanks, Vanessa
Excerpted with permission of Jessica Jahiel, PhD
I don’t think it’s going
my horses are sure-footed and hard- anywhere and everywhere, because in
to be possible for you to
hooved, partly, I’m sure, as a result of nature a horse’s life depends on its ability
remove all the rocks. It’s a
running around pastures that feature to remain upright and move instantly
question of numbers rather than size.
slopes and, yes, some rocks. The rocks and fast in any direction at any time.
don’t breed - I’m reasonably certain about horses on pasture have all the freedom
horses are usually fairly quick to adjust
that - but they do work their way up in the world to make instant adjustments
to new pastures and footing. Do you
from under the ground. you’ll find that to their balance, direction, and speed.
ever trail ride? If so, and if your horses
frost heave can bring a new layer of rocks If a horse’s hoof finds a “surprise” rock,
have any experience on rocky trails, they
to the surface virtually overnight. the horse can shift, sometimes very
already know how to deal with rocks dramatically, to avoid putting a lot of its
underfoot and patches of uneven ground.
The best suggestion I can offer is this: weight onto a sharp or uneven surface.
If they can manage on scree, they can
When your horses arrive, don’t put them
certainly deal with pasture rocks - at least
into the pasture immediately. Release I wouldn’t advise riding in your pastures
those won’t slip and slide under their
them into your arena to play and blow - not soon, anyway. That is, after a few
off steam, and later that day or even months when your horses have learned
According to ‘Gospel’...
the following day, hand-walk them in every inch of their pastures you’ll be able
the pasture before turning them loose. to do some casual riding out there if you
They’re far less likely to injure themselves wish, but I wouldn’t make any attempt
if they’re not full of pent-up energy from to practice portions of dressage tests (for
the long trailer or van ride, and if they’ve example) in the pasture because adding
been introduced to the pasture footing, a rider changes a horse’s ability to make
rocks included, at a controlled walk at those instant adjustments to variations in
the end of a lead rope. I’m sure there footing.
will be some heart-stopping moments
for you when your horses finally have Under saddle, dressage horses are asked
the opportunity to rocket around their to carry themselves in a certain way,
new pastures, but these two simple move in a certain way, and respond to
precautions should help. our precise aids instantly. Once we begin
Don’t worry too much. yes, accidents
asking horses to do those things, we need
can and will happen even under ideal
to be sure that we’re providing them with
2 sizes do it all!
conditions, but we all accept that as part
the best possible, most consistent and
Easy to use and AFFORDABLE!
of the reality of horse ownership. As
predictable footing - even, level, not too
long as your fencing is safe, your horses
hard, not too slippery, not too deep. Very
Small Light Pad
are compatible, and your pastures aren’t
few pastures would meet those standards.
overcrowded, and provided you give your
Even a few small rocks in your dressage
Large Light Pad
horses a quiet introduction to their new
arena would present much more of a
pastures and the footing therein, the rocks
threat than a large number of rocks in a
Gentle and Ef_fective!
really shouldn’t present much of a problem.
Illuminating the future of equine care
JOIN USATTHE OHIO EQUINEAFFAIRE
In my experience, horses and pasture Jessica Jahiel, PhD, author, clinician,
APRIL 8-11,BRICKER BUILDING,BOOTH #615 rocks can coexist very nicely. Rocks in consultant
a pasture don’t usually come as a huge www.horse-sense.org
surprise, and in any case, horses are www.jessicajahiel.com
generally preternaturally aware of footing, Holistic Horsemanship®
holistic horse™ • February/march 2010 • Vol.16, Issue 65
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