Preventing dressage horse injuries is key to keeping your dressage horse happy and healthy. Lateral work is an important element of a horse’s training, with leg-yield being introduced from BD Elementary level dressage. Put simply, lateral work is when the horse moves sideways as well as forwards. Lateral work helps built and maintain suppleness and develop “throughness”. We know foot balance is crucial for maintaining a sound horse. However, lateral work places repetitive, unnatural forces on the lower legs and papers have suggested this could lead to injuries.
Not only is it important to build strength to prevent strains, but icing after work could help with recovery. This article highlights how lateral work can cause injury and how icing as part of your horse’s cool down may help prevent injury.
Causes of Dressage Horse Injuries
Doing Too Much, Too Soon
Your dressage horse will need to build enough strength and balance in order to practice lateral work safely. When introducing lateral work, begin by teaching movements such as leg-yield and shoulders-in, before moving up to travers and half-pass.
Building your horse up towards the more advanced lateral movements will help to reduce the chance of injury. The horse should also be allowed to warm up before a lateral work session to prevent injury.
Lack of Variety
It’s easy to just hop on and do the same schooling session on the same surface day after day. However, this can result in your horse’s musculoskeletal system being loaded in the same way all the time. This not only places additional strain on particular areas, but it also means that other parts of the horse’s body are underused and more susceptible to injury. Doing lateral work over and over again has the same effect.
Incorporating variety into your dressage horse’s work and riding on a variety of surfaces will help strengthen your horse’s entire body. When doing lateral work, incorporate plenty of straight lines, shallow loops and circles and work on both reins to avoid injury.
Not Cooling Down After Work
Cooling down properly is just as important as warming up. Lateral work is especially hard work for your horse, so it’s important that your horse is allowed to cool down. Your cool down routine should include plenty of walking and stretching, as well as icing the legs.
Using Cryochaps Ice Boots to Prevent Dressage Horse injuries
Dressage horses at all levels can really benefit from having their legs iced after work with Cryochaps ice boots. Using our ice boots as part of your horse’s cool down routine cools the legs much quicker than cold water hosing, helping prevent injuries to tendons and ligaments.
Using Cryochaps has a number of benefits, including flushing waste products from the tissue, reducing inflammation and reducing swelling and tissue breakdown. By applying Cryochaps for 10-15 minutes immediately after lateral work, you can reduce the chance of tendon and ligament injury. Purchase Cryochaps ice boots for horses today.