You’ve probably heard the saying, “No hoof, no horse.”
This saying is most definitely holds true. This is why it's so important to be proactive about keeping your horse’s hooves in great condition. Not sure where to get started? Here are five tips to get set you on the right path...
Start With a Good Diet
The quality of your horse’s hooves begins with his diet. In order to grow a healthy hoof, your horse needs to be receiving adequate nutrition to keep his own body healthy. If you’re not sure that your horse is getting what he needs, then consult with your vet or with an equine nutritionist.
Minimize Mud in Your Pasture
Mud can wreak havoc on hooves. It can saturate them, then dry them out, and can even pull horseshoes right off, damaging your horse’s hooves in the process. Do your best to minimize the amount of mud present in your pastures. This may mean installing additional gates to avoid muddy gate areas, bringing in pea gravel to supplement the muddier areas, and installing drainage to help direct water away from the pastures.
Check Your Horse’s Hooves Regularly
Be sure to check your horse’s hooves every day. Pick up the hooves and inspect them for signs of damage. The sooner you find an issue, the more you can stay ahead of it.
Consider Shoes or Boots
Your horse may need some help to keep his feet in great condition, especially if you do a lot of riding or if you ride over rough terrain. Consider putting horse shoes or hoof boots on your horse’s hooves if it looks like they need some extra protection. Your farrier should be able to help you assess what option is right for your horse.
Schedule Regular Farrier Visits
Be sure that your horse sees the farrier on a regular basis, even if he is completely barefoot. Your farrier is essential in maintaining your horse’s hoof health. He can make adjustments if he sees your horse’s hooves are growing out of alignment, and can reduce the chances of your horse’s hooves splitting, cracking, or chipping. A good farrier will help to maintain the proper angles in your horse’s hooves and can advise you about how to handle hoof issues that may crop up.