Caring for Your Horse's Hooves
Taking care of your horse's hooves is vital for his wellbeing. The hooves support the full weight of the horse, and so it's essential that they are kept in tip top condition. This will help to avoid the common problems of thrush, cracks and splits which can often cause lameness in the animal. Here's some tips to help you take good care of your horse's hooves including choosing equine hoof care products.
Arrange regular visits from your farrier
A visit from your farrier every five or six weeks is adequate for most horses. However, some horse's feet grow more quickly, particularly in the springtime or if they're fed supplements. Should your horse experience rapid hoof growth, he'll benefit from more regular visits from the farrier. It's important that his feet don't grow too long or become neglected as this can result in him becoming lame.
Make sure bedding is kept clean and dry
This is essential for keeping your horse's hooves in good condition and will help to prevent conditions like thrush from developing. Thrush can occur when bacteria are trapped in moist or damp conditions. This results in a fungal infection which eats away at the hoof tissue.
Pick out your horse's hooves regularly
You should do this at least once a day and preferably more often. When doing this, assess the hooves for signs of thrush, cracks in the walls of the hooves, heat in the hooves and also punctures and wounds. If you notice an abscess, you should call a farrier right away. An abscess can be very painful for a horse and must be treated as soon as possible. A farrier can clean the area and relieve the pressure. It may also be a good idea to get in touch with your vet who can prescribe antibiotics to ensure that any infection is eradicated.
Remember to pick hooves out with a downward motion (heel to toe) following the V shape of the frog. This is to avoid accidentally catching the heel or injuring yourself with the hoof pick. It is always worthwhile have a few spare hoof picks around and you can even get folding hoof picks which are good for when you are out and about.
Check your horse's shoes
When you are picking out your horse's hooves, take time to check the condition of his shoes. Pay attention to any risen or raised clenches or shoes that are cracked or twisted. Should your horse lose a shoe whilst out in the field or the dressage arena, this can cause a great deal of damage to his hoof. A torn hoof can take a long time to recover from and can be very uncomfortable for your horse.
Choose appropriate equine hoof care products
There are many products on the market which are designed to protect and care for your horse's hoofs. These include hoof oils and hoof care preparations as well as hoof dressings and even supplements. They are designed to improve the health as well as the appearance of your horse's feet. Your farrier should be able to recommend the best equine hoof care products for your horse's needs. I personally use the Nettex Traditional Hoof Oil. I find that it does the job of nourishing and protecting my horse Henry's hooves whilst allowing them to breathe. It's a great all-round treatment that it is well worth investing in.
Cornucrescine is another great equine hoof care product that has been used for years. It is designed to help promote good hoof growth by stimulating keratin producing cells. It is rubbed to the coronet band at the top of the horse's hoof which is area that generates new hoof growth. There are many other oils and dressings can be used for all over application to help nourish and protect the hooves. Some products are also anti-bacterial, help to repel dirt, strength the hoof and make them look their best for a show or competition.