Hooves are a critical part of any horse and when something is not right, a negative ripple effect can occur. Some horses have become lame and others have even died from hoof issues. Conditioning and cleaning horse hooves involves taking proper care of this vital part.
There is an array of problems that can attack hooves and in this regard, prevention is always a good weapon. When the condition of the hooves is good, your horse will perform optimally. This article explores tips for the best hoof care.
Picking your horse’s feet
Your horse’s feet are prone to many dangers; including getting small stones and objects stuck in their hooves. It is important for every horse owner or groomer to check for these problems before every ride. Many horse owners assume that this job is best left to a farrier. However, caring for your horse in this way will promote hoof health and wellness from the onset. After picking any logged items, it is also good to look for any cuts or injuries after every ride. Take advantage and check deeper when cleaning the hooves. To do the job properly, hoof picks and a stiff brush will come in handy. There are several things that you will be looking out for when you are picking the feet of your horse as detailed below;
- Check for any cracks in the hoof structure. Contact your farrier and describe the type and size of the crack you find if any. The farrier will decide whether it is urgent or not. Proper shoeing is key to keep the hooves functioning in tip top shape.
- Also, look out for punctures on the soles of your horse. These are mainly caused by shoeing nails that are badly placed. It can also be caused by a sharp object that penetrates into the sole. Punctures can cause infection and abscess formation. To this end, you want to be on top of things. If there is an object lodged inside the sole, do not try to remove it. Keep the horse calm and get further help. An x-ray should show the extent of the problem. A veterinarian should be able to tackle the problem effectively.
- As hinted to above, a puncture can cause an abscess. Also, bruising and poorly placed shoenails can also cause the problem. These issues must be treated with great urgency. An abscess is not just painful to a horse but it can be fatal if the problem is not treated as needed. If you are not sure whether what you find is an abscess, call your vet and be sure.
- You should also check out for thrush in the hooves. This will manifest with a foul smell often with an ooze that emanates from the frog. There is also a cheesy texture that forms in the frog with thrush. This is a bacterial infection that also needs urgent care. A farrier or a veterianarian can recommend the right medication. Solving this problem early will help prevent lameness and severe hoof damage. Keep in mind that thrush is caused by damp conditions. When your horse stands for too long in mud, manure or wet ground, this problem is most likely to occur. Prevention is also critical to proper hoof care.
Promote the growth of healthy hooves
Healthy hooves are more likely to withstand different environmental and hoof conditions. In fact, healthier hooves will have fewer problems compared to unhealthy ones. Therefore, helping your horse grow healthy hooves is critical. There are several ways to foster the development of better hooves as detailed below;
- Activity on suitable surfaces is beneficial to your horse. Allow them to exercise regularly because this promotes circulation of blood. This in turn promotes better hoof growth.
- Regularly cleaning horse hooves will keep them dirt and debris free preventing damage and deterioration. Also, maintaining a dry environment as much as possible is equally important to keep them in top shape.
- Just like humans, diet is a key component in boosting health in horses. Your horse needs all the nutrients to thrive and grow hooves properly. They must feed on high quality feeds that are indeed suitable for them. Get expert advice on the best diet for your horse.
- In addition, supplementing with biotin can also help promote better hooves in your horse. Talk to your vet or farrier for a good recommendation on this. Using the supplement for a minimum of 6 months to 12 months will help grow stronger horse hooves.
Keep hooves as dry as possible
Cleaning horse hooves may start with washing and conditioning, but keeping them dry may be equally important. To keep hooves in the best condition, it is important to reduce excess moisture. Firstly, moisture can trigger thrush. In addition, it can lead to contracting and expanding of the hooves which can loosen the shoes. This can cause greater damage to hooves. In summer, controlling excess moisture can be a problem. However, the best thing is to avoid grass with dew, full baths, ponds, mud and so on. There are products that can also work to keep hooves nice and dry without the oiliness.
Work closely with a farrier
A good farrier will always contribute to the welfare of your horse and their hooves. Whether you are looking at the shoeing cycles or dealing with other hoof problems, this professional is essential to keeping your horse happy. Summer time comes with many challenges and shorter shoeing cycles are not uncommon. All in all, this expert must be consulted throughout the year for best results.
Use high quality hoof care products
There are products designed especially for cleaning horse hooves which fully condition for better overall health. They range from moisturizing mists to hoof washes. Before buying, look at the ingredients of the products. Natural products are better for your horse. Good hoof conditioners are also effective. Look for a trusted brand and if you do not know where to start, Equi-Spa is a great place. Our assortment of hoof conditioners and hoof washes are made using nature for an excellent effect. Cleaning horse hooves regularly with these kinds of products will cause them to grow darker and stronger hooves. Horse owners will subsequently notice less chipping.
With the above tips, the condition of your horse’s hooves should be great. Common sense, vigilance and daily effort in doing the right things will surely yield as needed. If you are facing hoof issues that do not seem to go away, seek professional advice from a trusted vet. And if you wish to take a deep dive into Horse Hoof Anatomy please visit our blog.