The Magazine Spring 2016

Protecting your showjumper

Posted 4th February 2016

There’s no doubt that many horses love jumping, but it can put a lot of strain on certain parts of their bodies. Vet Sue Dyson from the Animal Health Trust takes a look at key problem areas and how to reduce the risk of injury.

Your horse’s legs appear very slender considering they carry such a large, heavy body. They’re designed this way so they’re lightweight and enable him to flee from danger. But don’t be fooled, they’re stronger than they look. A study carried out by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in 2006 showed that at a lower level, horses concentrating on showjumping are at no greater risk of injury than any other horse. However, once they reach the higher-level competitions, there tends to be an increase in discipline-specific injuries.

The AHT study showed that showjumpers were particularly at risk of

  • deep digital flexor tendon injuries
  • foot pain
  • suspensory ligament damage
  • check ligament problems
  • patellar ligament injuries
  • back pain
  • joint pain

Reducing the risks
There are various management methods that can reduce the risk of injuries occurring…

  • Working your horse on a variety of surfaces is very important. If you normally run on grass and you suddenly run two miles on road, you will be sore – the same applies to your horse.
  • Warming up adequately is a particular problem with showjumpers. Part of the AHT study showed that the average showjumping warm-up was less than five minutes. It is important that your horse is fit enough to perform the work he’s going to do and that he is warmed up correctly.
  • Ensuring your horse’s saddle fits is important in combating back pain in showjumpers. The pressures under the front of the saddle are markedly increased when a horse lands over a fence, even with a well-fitting saddle, so performance may be improved if riders were more aware of the importance of correct saddle fit.

To learn more about how to protect your horse from injuries associated with jumping, get your copy of Spring Horse&Rider, on sale 11 February.

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