Your horse's hooves are one of the most important areas of their body that need to be kept protected and healthy. Some of the most serious health cases in horses have included damage or simply just neglect to the hoof which can then lead to difficulties in walking and a considerable amount of pain. Here at Waterman's Country Supplies we have put together a hoof care guide so you can make your horse more comfortable and less likely to develop hoof related issues.
Get Advice First
It is always a good idea before you start to care for your horse's hooves to find a good farrier. He/ she will be able to recommend a hoof care guide including what type of shoes the horse will need based on your where they are stabled, the land and how the horse is ridden or worked. There are many different areas of the hoof that need to be looked after with some horses needing specialist care when tending to their hooves. If your horse suffers with uncomfortable hooves then make sure you contact your farrier or vet to get advice on what your horse needs before treatment.
Clipping The Hooves
As part of your hoof care guide, horses hooves should ideally be trimmed every six weeks as they grow like fingernails. If you aren't an expert in this then get a farrier to remove the shoes and trim the hooves. The shoes can sometimes even be reused if they aren't damaged. Make sure that you personally inspect the horse's hooves after a farrier visit so you are happy with the job and learn throughout the process.
Cleaning The Hooves
At the end of everyday your horse's hooves need to be picked clean using a specially designed hoof pick. This helps to remove any dirt or gravel that can get caught in and around the frog. Be careful during this process as some areas of the hoof are sensitive so any sudden stabs can make the horse jump, and with you near his feet this could lead to a nasty accident. To pick the hooves, tie the horse up to a hitching post and pick up the hoof with your back to his head, be gentle and pick out any debris that are in and around the shoe. This is also a great time to check for any damage or weeping that may be a sign of infection.
Infections And Issues
A common problem that you may encounter with your horse's foot is a white area around the frog, this is known as thrush. In wet areas or in some cases if a horse's bedding hasn't been regularly changed and kept dry then thrush can develop. This needs to be treated by a vet as soon as possible as if it is left it can cause tissue damage. In some cases thrush has been confused with canker, a disease that causes tissue to outgrow it's blood supply. If you ever notice anything that looks like cauliflower with a foul odour – but if you clean you horses hooves regularly this may be unlikely – then make sure you call an equine vet to officially diagnose and treat the problem.
How To Maintain Hoof Health
There are many different ways that you can maintain the health of your horse's hooves and this generally involves improving your horse's lifestyle. Encouraging exercise helps to naturally clean the hooves and get the circulation pumping and for those horses that need a little help, there are different types of supplements and feed that help to build healthy hooves. There are also several different products that you can apply directly to the hoof such as a moisturisers and sealants that help to avoid any breakages and keep the hoof walls supple. Make sure that you also take a look at where you are keeping your horse and move him out of the mud onto dry land.
For our entire collection of hoof care products click here.