Help keep your horse’s hooves healthy and strong.
Pick out your horse’s feet. This may sound pretty basic, but it’s the single most important thing you can do for his hooves. It also gives you a chance to take early
action on many common hoof problems. Do this:
Each time you clean your horse’s hooves, take an extra couple of minutes after you’ve pried out any packed debris to gently clear the crevice of the frog and scrape any remaining bits of matter off the sole with the tip of the pick. Finish the job with a stiff brush.
Establish what’s normal. While handling your horse’s feet to pick them out, notice their temperature; when everything’s OK, they’ll feel very slightly warm.
When picking out the feet, look for signs of…
Just pouring a thrush remedy over the frog will not get the job done. Packing a hoof is potentially dangerous because excessive pressure can kill sensitive frog tissue.
Instead, follow this daily routine: Make your own cotton swab by wrapping a wisp of loose cotton around the end of a hoof pick. Soak the cotton in treatment solution and
swab down the sides of the frog as if you were picking out the hoof. Swab the cleft of the frog and any other crevices. Repeat the process, using fresh cotton.
When treating thrush, modify the affected horse’s living arrangements by keeping cleaner, drier stalls and increasing your horse’s exercise time.
Schedule regular farrier visits according to your horse’s individual needs. Although six to eight weeks is the average, there’s really no standard interval for trimming and shoeing.
If your horse is shod, check his shoes each time you pick out his feet.
Learn how to remove a shoe — yes, you! Many farriers are glad to teach clients how to do this. If you can remove a sprung or shifted shoe, you may save your horse unnecessary pain and hoof damage.
Help your horse grow the best possible hooves. Some horses naturally have better hooves than others. Your horse may already be producing the best hoof he’s capable of, or the following steps may enable him to do better.
Try not to turn out in deep, muddy footing. Hours of standing in mud may encourage thrush or scratches (a skin infection in the fetlock area that can cause lameness). Mud is hard on shoes, too: The suction of deep mud can drag off a shoe already loosened by alternating wet and dry conditions.
Protect your horse’s hooves during hauling. Without covering for his heels, he can easily step on the edge of a shoe and pull it partially loose. Another vulnerable area is the coronet band: the rim of tissue at the top of each hoof that generates new hoof-wall growth. Injury to this area can interrupt hoof growth in the area below the affected spot. The solution: Either old-fashioned shipping bandages and bell boots (large enough to cover the bulbs of your horse’s heels and the backs of his shoes) or good-quality, full-coverage Velcro-fastened shipping boots.
Bonus tip from the Delaware Valley College Equine Studies Program, Doylestown, PA:
“When conditioning your horse’s hooves with Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker, don’t forget about conditioning his chestnuts. Moistened chestnuts can easily be picked down, giving your horse’s legs a polished appearance.”
Simple step-by-step guide
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Basic bathing tips: Rinsing
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Horse Hoof Care Tips
Equine Massage Therapy
Winter Horse Grooming Tips
Grooming for Show Day
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