It is a misconception that it is up to the farrier to care for and upkeep our horses’ hooves for total health and performance. But, it is up to the owner to deal with the daily management of their horses’ hooves, because great hooves mean great health. Here are some common tips that owners need to know and use.
Clean out their hooves. Use a hoof pick to clean out any debris, manure and rocks. Follow this by using a stiff bristle brush. While you pick, also check for signs of thrush, puncture wounds, cracks, and abscesses. This should be done on a daily basis, and especially after a trail ride.
Inspect their shoes. Check to see if the shoes are bent, pulled away or shifted. Ask your farrier how to fix shoes, or to even take off shoes that are loose. Purchase basic farrier tools like nippers, hoof file, and nail puller. All of which can be bought for under $50.
Hoof Health. Feed your horse hoof supplements that are high in vitamins and minerals, biotin and zinc. Also apply a topical hoof moisturizer to alleviate the possibilities of cracks in the hoof. This is very important with the advent of moisture, mud, or dry, hot weather. Hot weather can is a major cause of brittle hooves. Brittle, cracked hooves can lead to injury and infection.
Keep their Hooves Dry. Move your horses out of the mud, or wet areas. This is not only for the reasons that I just mentioned but your horse could fall or slip. Have a dry shelter that they can get under and make it level so that no drainage can get to the lower lying areas.
Schedule a Farrier. Every 6 to 8 weeks is the average. A good farrier can correct problems such as under-run heels, a club foot, or flare in the hoof wall. Your farrier can also give you tips on doing some of the preventive work yourself.
Remember that your regular care of your horses hooves lead to better performance and a happy, healthier animal. Practice with your horse on picking up their hooves and working on them. Not only will this create a larger “trust” bond with your horse, but it will make you feel confident in doing the work yourself.