Question of canceling events is mostly a matter of footing

EQUESTRIAN

April 04, 1993|By MUPHEN WHITNEY

This is the 12th year that I have written at least weekly about horses, and for several years I did a horse sports radio program five days a week and was in touch with the horse world on a daily basis.

In all of those years, I can only think of one or two horse events that had to be canceled or postponed. Then came the winter of 1993 and its record precipitation.

There has been at least one cancellation or postponement of a horse event each of the past few weeks.

What causes a horse show committee or race committee to cancel an event? Generally, it is not the weather on the day of the event that will be the determining factor, although there are ,, obviously exceptions to this, such as the recent blizzard.

Instead, the most important factor is the footing (ground condition) that has been affected by the previous week's weather.

Regardless of how dare-devilish certain horse activities, such as steeplechasing and combined training, may seem to the uninitiated, they are conducted with great emphasis on the safety of the horses and riders. One of the most important aspects of how safe an event can be is how good the footing is underneath a horse's hoofs.

There are two opposite conditions that can cause bad footing: when the ground is too hard and when it is too soft. Hard ground results from the lack of precipitation. It can cause severe concussion on a horse's feet and legs. Hard ground also can be a dangerous condition for racing or going cross country because it can cause excessive speed.

When the ground is too soft, it also can be too slippery. This is total disaster for any equestrian event, but especially ones conducted at speed and/or over jumps. Soft ground is also deep and can pull off a horse's shoes and cause feet and legs to twist.

While some of the events canceled during the past few weeks were called in response to weather, most -- including all of the ones this weekend -- were canceled or postponed because of the truly lousy footing conditions found on race courses and in outdoor horse show arenas.

Update your calendar

Yesterday's Goshen Spring Hunter Pace has been postponed to May 16. Call Kathy Cleavenger for more information at (301) 854-2018.

Today's Marlborough Hunt Races have been canceled.

This weekend's Elkridge-Harford Hunt races were conducted, but only the timber races and pony races (which are not run at great speed) were run.

Because so many of the Maryland steeplechases have been canceled so far (Howard-Iron Bridge, Elkridge-Harford and Marlborough), the Maryland Steeplechase Committee is considering having races in September.

The Mount Airy Saddle Pals English and Western Horse Show scheduled for today has been rescheduled for April 25.

The Carroll County Western Circuit Horse Show scheduled for today has been canceled. Organizers are debating whether to try to reschedule for another date, to have a double-point show at one of the show's later in the season, or just to count the points from the season's remaining eight shows for the year-end awards.

The Mid-Maryland Horse and Pony Association show that was planned last Sunday will be rescheduled depending on the availability of the Howard County Fairgrounds. The next show in this series will be April 25.

Classes for novice adults

Don't forget that the Mid-Maryland Horse and Pony Association shows have great classes for novice adults.

There are walk-trot classes for adults and jumping classes with fences set at 18 feet and 2 feet. The next show in this series is scheduled for April 25.

Call Chris Morgan at (410) 848-5685 for more information.

Clinic at Arden Farms

It is not too late to register to attend some part of the John Lyonsclinic at Arden Farms in Crownsville from April 16 through 21.

Contact Norma Scherring at (410) 239-4221 for registration information.

Calendar of events

Saturday -- My Lady's Manor Race Meet. 3:30 p.m. Monkton. (410) 752-8727.

Saturday -- Severn Valley Stables Schooling Event. Arnold. (410) 757-1971.

April 17 -- (American) Grand National Steeplechase. 3:15 p.m. Butler. (410) 771-4106.

April 17 -- T.R.O.T. (Trail Riders of Today) general meeting. Gillis Falls Equestrian Area. Grimville Road, Mount Airy. (410) 795-4246.

April 17 -- 4-H Clinic on Showmanship, English Pleasure and Equitation, and Western Pleasure and Horsemanship. 8 a.m. Carroll County Agricultural Center. Westminster. (410) 848-3099.

April 18 -- Carrollton Hounds Horse Trials. Ship's Quarters Farm, Westminster. (410) 848-3192.

April 18 -- Carroll County Western Circuit Horse Show. Agriculture Center, Westminster. (410) 239-7885.

April 24 -- Maryland Hunt Cup. 4 p.m. Glyndon. (410) 833-4188.

May 9 -- Potomac Hunt Races. 12:30 p.m. Seneca. (301) 972-7621.

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