A vet has warned against working your horse on hard ground after seeing “worrying advice” online.

Natalie McGoldrick said she was concerned after noticing riders recommending cantering, galloping and jumping on hard ground as a way to condition your horse’s legs to it.

The event rider said it was not possible to condition a horse to hard ground and urged riders to try to avoid faster work in fields until the ground is softer again.

“The more you canter and jump on hard ground, the more you will hammer the joints and help your horse get arthritis,” she said on her Facebook page South Coast Equine Vets/Natalie McGoldrick. “Please do not listen to anyone advising you to condition your horse’s legs to hard ground, unless you want your horse to head towards steroid injections or early retirement.”

Hampshire-based Natalie, who events up to advanced level, said cross-training your horse, by riding on a variety of surfaces, is good for legs, but “hammering around” on hard ground is not.

“The ground, certainly in my area, is currently like concrete,” she said. “Please think twice about jumping and cantering in fields at the moment, as it’s almost the equivalent of jumping your horses on the road.

“If you are struggling to keep your horse or pony fit, and can’t use or hire an arena, then trotting steadily up hills out hacking is a great alternative. Or just lots of hacking in walk to keep them ticking over until we get some much needed rain.”

Natalie said she has seen horses who are jarred up or foot sore from being turned out on hard ground due to the current conditions.

“Try not to add to the concussion by making them work on the rock hard ground,” she added.

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