Six Steps to Healthy Horse Hooves
Your horse’s hooves require regular care to keep them strong and healthy. Nutrition, environmental elements, turnout frequency, riding terrain, horseshoes, and heredity factors all play a role in hoof health and growth. While some horses do experience lifelong issues such as thin soles, or hoof walls prone to cracking, there are ways to keep your horse’s hooves in good condition with a little preventative maintenance and the proper nutrition.
- Clean your Horse’s Hooves Daily
One of the best things you can do for your horse is to clean his hooves daily. Check them before and after riding, before bringing your horse in for the evening, and whenever your horse shows signs of discomfort. Pry out packed debris and carefully clean around the frog. Finish by brushing the surface of the hooves with a stiff brush. While performing daily cleanings, be on the lookout for punctures, cracks, abscesses, or thrush. If you discover any hoof problems, reach out to your veterinarian or farrier.
- Trim Your Horse’s Hooves Based on Seasonal Changes
Establish a good trimming schedule for your horse. In the summer, trim or shoe your horse’s hooves approximately every six to eight weeks. Show horses may require more frequent trimmings. The hooves grow slower in the winter and will usually only require a trim or shoe every six to twelve weeks. Of course, this can differ depending on the condition of the horse’s hooves and their natural hoof growth.
- Apply the Correct Sealant or Moisturizer
Wet weather and muddy paddocks can cause your horse’s hooves to soften, while hot, dry weather can dry out the hooves, causing them to crack, break, and grow brittle. When a serious break does occur, it can take a year or more for the hooves to grow out enough to replace a break located high on the hoof wall. Prevent this type of injury by applying a topical conditioner to your horse’s hooves regularly to control water loss and absorption.
- Keep Your Horse Active Through Exercise
Daily exercise is critical for horses to maintain overall wellbeing. It is also critical for hoof health. Regular exercise promotes strength and growth, especially when the horse is allowed to walk and trot on surfaces that increase the circulation to the hooves. Allow your horse to run and play in an open field or pasture and regularly ride or lunge your horse.
- Avoid Injuries and Irritation Caused by Mud
While playing in a mud puddle may not seem like a big deal, it can pose certain risks to a horse. Prolonged exposure to mud can affect the moisture content of hooves, resulting in possible infections, thrush, or loosened shoes. Exposure to mud can also cause a horse to slip and fall, potentially causing injuries to the legs. It is important to keep pastures level and to fill in holes to prevent the accumulation of water. If your horse is on full turnout, provide a run-in shelter where it can stay dry.
- Maintain Proper Nutrition through Diet & Supplements
Ensure that your horse maintains a proper diet to alleviate a wide range of hoof conditions. Horses should receive quality hay, as well as access to clean water at all times. Consider adding a supplement to your horse’s diet to aid in the development and growth of healthy hooves and bones.
Elite Equine offers a 100 percent organic rosehip supplement for horses that support the animal’s own anti-inflammatory process. Many reviewers have commented on the product’s usefulness in healthy hoof growth. Rosehip contains biotin, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that promote strong hoof walls and prevent cracking which is key to helping your horse maintain optimal performance. Rosehip has also been known to support joint health and mobility, a healthy immune system, and a healthy coat, mane, and tail.