As a horse owner, it is up to you to maintain your horse’s hooves in between farrier visits. Not everyone boards their horse at a barn or has a barn manager keeping the farrier on a 4-6 week appointment schedule. So, for those of us that keep our four-legged kids at home, it is important to know how to care for their feet in between visits.
The most important things you can do for your horse’s hooves are to check them out, keep them clean, and keep them dry. Neglecting any of these for a period of time can end up with the need for a vet visit! Below you can read about why each of these steps is important for horse hoof health.
When you go out to feed your herd, make sure to give their hooves a once over. Does your horse rock a fancy pair of kicks? Make sure shoes are in good condition and still attached properly with no loose or missing nails. Make sure any nails that are missing aren’t in your horse’s foot! (If there is a nail stuck in the hoof, do not pull it out, but wrap a thick towel around the hoof to prevent the nail from being pushed in deeper as the horse walks and duct-tape the towel so it stays on the hoof area. Call the vet for further instructions to keep your horse safe during this time).
Make sure to check for any cracks beginning to form and make sure the bottom part of the hoof is free of rocks and debris. Check every foot for any signs of swelling or heat (checking in the morning will give you a more accurate idea since it should still be cool outside). If your horse has any visible hoof injuries, swelling, or heat, call your vet!
A very important part of having a horse is maintaining its hooves. You’ve probably heard the saying “no hooves, no horse”, and there’s a reason for that! Without healthy hooves, a horse can’t walk easily and can start to develop very serious issues. One way to keep your horse’s feet in check is to clean them out daily.
Make sure to use your hoof pick to get any stones, twigs, or debris out of the hoof and provide a flat surface for your horse to walk on. Clean the frog and sole thoroughly. A hoof that is continually packed with mud and manure is more likely to develop thrush. If you suspect thrush is developing (black grime along the edges of the frog with an unmistakable bad odor), you can treat it with a product recommended by your farrier.
With the current rainy season we are experiencing lately, it is important to keep your horse’s feet dry. Too much moisture can cause thrush and other issues that can affect the quality of the hoof. The hooves may become too soft and weak. Constantly going between wet and dry areas can deplete the natural oils in the hoof wall and lead to dryness and cracking. Imagine a person whose hands get chapped from getting wet and dry continuously.
If the integrity of your horse’s feet is compromised by environmental conditions, make sure to ask your farrier about hoof products you could use in between visits.
Not everyone can keep their horses out of trouble every minute of every day, but if you can keep their feet in healthy, working order, you can sleep sound knowing that you are single-handedly dodging many horse health issues! If you ever notice abnormalities in your horse’s hooves, any heat, or signs of limping, do not hesitate to call your vet! Carolina Equine Hospital makes farm calls, emergency calls, and sees horses at the CEH facility. Need an appointment? Call the office to get on the books!