We’ve all heard the saying, “No hoof, no horse.” Keeping your horse’s hooves healthy should be a top priority year-round. Are you following these seven tips to help keep your horse’s hooves healthy?
Feed Proper Nutrition
The first step in keeping your horse’s hooves healthy is to feed him a proper diet. Horses lacking certain vitamins and minerals can have poor-quality hooves which easily chip away. Check your horse’s diet to make sure that he’s getting the nutrition that he needs.
Find a Trusted Farrier
Your farrier is your partner in ensuring that your horse’s hooves are well cared for. Find a farrier that you can trust, and who does good work. If you don’t know of a local farrier, then ask your vet for a recommendation.
Schedule Regular Farrier Work
Once you’ve found a great farrier, make sure that you schedule regular farrier appointments. Letting your horse go too long between farrier appointments can lead to hoof overgrowth and the development of poor angles and strain on your horse’s tendons.
Mud can really do a number on hooves. Mud can cause hooves to dry out, to get too wet, and to develop thrush. Try to minimize the amount of mud in your horse’s pasture. Be sure that you also pick out his hooves on a regular basis, even if you’re not going riding – small rocks and debris can get packed into the mud, and thrush is a possibility in muddy conditions.
Give Hooves a Chance to Dry Out
If your horse stands in a wet or muddy pasture, then you need to give his hooves a chance to dry out. Provide your horse with a shelter where he can get off of the wet ground, or bring him into his stall each night so that his hooves can dry out. Overly saturated hooves can grow soft and weak.
Avoid Excess Hosing
During the summertime months, it’s tempting to hose your horse off after every ride. Keep in mind that excessive hosing can actually negatively affect your horse’s hooves. Instead of hosing, consider sponging your horse down so that you don’t saturate his hooves every time you cool him off.
Feed a Hoof Supplement
There are many hoof supplements that you can feed your horse to improve the quality of the hoof that he grows. It can take months or even a year before you see the full effect of a hoof supplement, so be prepared for the fact that you won’t see immediate results.
By putting a little extra effort into caring for your horse’s hooves, you can help to reduce the chance of lameness or other hoof problems.