View Full Version : dangerous surface for lunging?

17-03-00, 02:02 PM
Can anyone tell me whether horses' legs can be injured by lunging on a surface that is hard? I have my horse agisted at a property which has a lovely roundyard for lunging but the surface is "en tous cart" (sp?) - the red fine gravelly stuff found on old-fashioned tennis courts. There is not much loose gravel on top and the base seems quite hard, though not as hard as the ground in the paddocks. (It's very dry at the moment). I have been given an exercise program by my instructor for my aged stockhorse mare which includes 25 mins. per day of free-lunging at walk, trot and canter. We both enjoy this and I use exercise bandages (on the horse, tho. I'm sure I need them!). As yet I've had no lameness problems but several other agisters have said to me that I shouldn't use the roundyard as it is too hard and I will hurt her legs. I asked the owner of the property if this were true and she said that racehorse trainers love a firm surface like that and that she happily lunges her own horses in the roundyard! Hence my confusion. There is a nice arena with tanbark surface but we are not allowed to lunge on it. Does anyone have any helpful advice or experience of this type of surface?

17-03-00, 04:08 PM
It sounds to me like it would be too hard. I wouldn't be lunging on it, especially an aged horse. Not sure how much sand you should have on the top (too deep is bad for their legs too) but as it's not your place, you can't fix it up anyway. The owner may not have had any problems...yet!!! It can take some time for wear and tear to show, but show it will. And bandages won't stop the concussion problems. Sorry I can't help you with this.:-(

Jan Heine
17-03-00, 04:16 PM
Couldn't agree more with Sally - sounds like that surface is defintely not a satisfactory lungeing surface. Tennis actually changed from en tout cas for that very reason - the wear and tear on the players legs because the surface was too hard. Any surface needs to have a fair amount of give (not too depp otherwise you risk tendon damage) to avoid damaging legs. If you can't use woodchip arena then I would suggest lungeing in the paddock - at least the ground will be a bit more forgiving for especially an older horse.

18-03-00, 01:35 AM
Also couldn't agree more... and what's this 25 mins lungeing for? That is a long time to lunge in my book. Are you trying to get the horse fit? I have always believed that lungeing is harder work for the horse than the same amount of riding.

Like Jan, I would lunge in the paddock. Or change my adgistment place. A slippy surface, like a chip arena, is also really bad for lungeing, as is really deep sand.

black beauty
18-03-00, 01:57 AM
Well I think the lady who runs the agistment place, sounds like a bit of a twit !!, yeh race horses get lunged on hard surfaces, by their amatuer trainers and hey they develop arthritis by age 5 , if your horse isnt lame now it surely will be in 6mnths time if you lunge in the roundyard.
Just make sure the grass in the paddock is dry before you lunge otherwise your horse may go for a sixer !!.

18-03-00, 07:32 AM
At one of my previous agistment, I actually had an arena of that red gravel type surface.. I found it to do the job really well, my horses never pulled up lame... (and this was one of the horses who the vet swore would go lame in hard work on hard ground)..

In wet I found to be great fun, as you really learnt a new meaning of 'sliding' halts... usually a 2 to 3 metre stop.... If you don't feel comfortable with the surfaces then use your paddock or something, but I never found it really that bad...

18-03-00, 10:32 AM
Why don't you ask the owner to get some more red gravel laid down to give a little extra cushioning,it might also encourage others to lunge as it is great excerise for horses.

18-03-00, 02:55 PM
Yes, I am trying to get the horse fit. But I don't want to ruin her legs in the process!!

18-03-00, 03:08 PM
Thank you Flocky. I appreciate your sharing your experience. If you don't mind telling, for how long did you use the hard arena and do your horses have any lameness problems now?

18-03-00, 03:12 PM
Thank-you Jan. The paddock actually feels harder to me, but I can only judge by jumping up and down myself!! Do you think it would help to soften the surface if I watered it?

Jan Heine
18-03-00, 03:46 PM
Donna- watering will help but only if it is done regularly - otherwise you simply end up with a slippery top surface (ice skating type effect) and still hard thus compaction underneath. Is water a problem where you are located - I'm not being silly but I'm in the Dandenongs in Vcitoria (usually a high rainfall area and I have been buying water in all Summer and also through last Winter. Perhaps, and I know this is not an easy decision but, you should look for another agistment which has better facilities - I know often easier said than done. Maybe you would be better off taking your horse for long hand walks (good for your fitness too *grin*) rather than lungeing if your only choices are en tout cas or rock hard paddock. I wouldn't be listening to the person who is telling you that the racehorses train on this type of surface - treat your own horse as if it were a million dollar racehorse - in other words ask "would they lunge Zabeel on this" - if the answer is no then don't do it to your horse.

black beauty
19-03-00, 01:02 AM
Donna I had an 19yr old ex-race horse who developed arthritis so the vet said he needed to be lunged, the agistment place has a hard surfice round yard( they have young up and coming race horses)made of blue metal, 2wks into the lunging programme my horse was the lamest he has ever been !! and his pain increased greatly.
I was told it is better for older horses arthritis or not, to be lunged on soft ground and preferably in straight lines as this will greatly help with any stiffness etc, roundyards just arent a long-term solution for getting a horse fit especially an older horse.

I agree with Jan if you dont want to lunge in the roundyard/paddock and cant change agistment places, take the horse for a brisk 25min walk, you'll both get fit and really enjoy yourselves!!.

19-03-00, 07:29 AM
I used the arena for approx 45 to 2 hours a time per horse... and they were ridden on it 5 days a week, (6th time was on the roads doing some solid trotting) I never had any lameness problems, and I still don't have any lameness problems...

20-03-00, 02:40 AM
Thank you everyone for sharing your knowledge and experience. My plan is to a) request that the owner put down some extra cushioning surface on top and allow me to water regularly, or b)move to a new agistment property. If I need to move to plan (b) you'll see a thread about seeking agistment in this forum soon!!!

26-03-00, 01:07 PM
Thanks Jan. I love how helpful everyone on this site is - it is a wonderful resource for someone like myself who is a beginner and doesn't have many "horsey" friends to get opinions/advice from.
Just about "Zabeel" though - the monetary value of the horse is not the issue. My darling ancient mare is as valuable to me as any horse could be and she's probably not worth a dime!!

Jan Heine
26-03-00, 03:40 PM
Sorry Donna - I think you misunderstood what I was saying - I am saying that you SHOULD treat your horse a"as if she was Zabeel" because that IS how important she is to you. Re-read what I said - "if it is NOT good enough for Zabeel then it is NOT good enough for my horse!"

We are saying the same thing.

Good luck with your beauty - look after her well and she will be with you for a long time!

26-03-00, 05:09 PM
Flocky, you have been lucky then! I have just spent the last couple of days ice-ing, Uptighting, and resting my horse after working him in an indoor arena that has a bad surface (i.e the hard sandstone base is coming through the surface due to it not being maintained proplerly). Several people have made coments about it lately, but nothing has been done. I didn't think it was too bad, but obviously I was wrong. The horse is usually very sound, has good legs and have'nt had any problems previously. He still isn't lame, but his legs have blown up, especially the front ones. You can't be too careful with surfaces. Too soft, too hard, uneven etc. Especially if the horse is very big. Little ones seem to get away with it, but these big guy's just have too much weight to carry (and I'm not talking about me!) to hammer them around on a hard surface.

23-04-00, 01:59 PM
Yes, Sally, I think I would have been lucky, but do remember, I worked my horses on it for approx 45 mins, 5 days a week, and I was there for approx 2 years (give or take). However, I worked my horses legs hard, on the Tuesdays, I take my horses out on road work, and that was 45 mins of solid non-stop trotting on the road (and not the grass verge or gravel section). It did not make Any of my horses lame. In fact I feel it only strengthen them.

However, having said that, when I moved from there to another property where the menage was shockers, and I mean talking like it's a mine field with bomb holes everywhere.... my horse's movement became affected and he started to pull sore... but when I went out road riding, he pulled up perfect.. not a swelling anywhere.

Now, I've moved, and I'm at this fantastic property with an arena to die for... It is a approx $30,000 menage that has a double membrane layer. Performs the best in the wet! And none of those bog problems or the surface being too hard... I'm in 7th heaven... ! *grins*

Hope this info helps...

23-04-00, 02:39 PM
When we were getting our arena re surfaced and only had the hard base down, I was lunging my boy when he lost concertration and fell. At first we thought it would just be a harmless graze but it turned out to need bandaging and he had months off!! Now as a result my horse has a permanent large knee!
After this experience we got our surface on straight away and would never lunge a horse on a hard surface again.
It was also really hard on our old horse's legs, it made his stride short and choppy. Definetly talk to the owners of the property and demand that they do something about it.
Good Luck!!
*** BL ***

24-04-00, 11:31 AM
Pretty lucky Flocky! It is true that horses benefit from some work on hard surfaces, but not all the time. The sliding stops in the wet worry me a little too as I have discovered that it is only too easy to damage croup ligaments with that sort of slippy surface. I have never liked those abrasive surfaces as it seems to me that you and the horse could both get gravel rash in the case of a mishap. I ask myself what is a natural surface for a horse to be on and it seems to me that the answer is mainly a grassed surface with a small percentage of gravel or rock - this is bearing in mind that most of our horses originated in Europe. The Arabian may be different, and has been famous for its hard feet and legs presumably from adapting to the desert.