Our horse’s hooves are important. Barefoot or shod, your horse is only as good as his feet are, so taking good care of them should be on the top of a horse owner’s “to do” list. Aaron Lee, owner of Aaron Lee Farrier Service, is an AFA-certified farrier in Central Vermont. He has competed in the World Championship Blacksmith horseshoeing contests, and is continually adding to his knowledge by attending clinics and symposiums. The following are the tips he gives to his own clients on what they should be doing to keep their horse’s hooves in great shape.
#1 – Handle Those Hooves
The first thing is to handle your horse’s feet regularly. Pick up their hooves, hold up a foot at a time so they get used to standing on three legs, and ask them to stand quietly. Having a well-mannered horse who is comfortable having their feet handled allows your farrier to take the time to perform a quality job on the horse’s hooves. It also allows you to inspect them and catch anything abnormal early on, before your horse becomes lame.
#2 – Pick Out Feet Before You Ride
Pick out your horse’s feet with a hoof pick before every ride. Pay particular attention to cleaning out either side of the frog to help prevent thrush. This also allows you to inspect the horse’s feet routinely to watch for stones or other potential problems, helps keep the horse comfortable when you’re riding, and helps keep the hoof healthy overall.
#3 – Keep Bedding Clean & Dry
If the horse isn’t on pasture all the time (i.e. if you keep it in a stall, barn, or run-in shed), make sure it has clean, dry bedding. This will help keep the hooves dry, which in turn keeps potential bacteria from building up and fosters a healthier hoof.