A horse is only as sound as his feet. Hoof care and regular maintenance is essential for strong, healthy hooves. Care and management will vary on the horse; however, we’ve made a list of easy hoof care tips to help keep your horse’s hooves healthy and strong.
- Pick out your horse’s feet. As basic as it sounds, it can be the utmost important thing you can do for your horse’s feet. This gives you a chance to check for things such as objects lodged in his feet before and after a ride, turnout, etc. Check for signs of thrush, puncture wounds, cracks, and abscesses. If your horse has shoes, look for any shifts or risen clinches. This preventative caution may save your horse unnecessary pain and hoof damage.
- Keep your horse on a regular schedule with your farrier. Although it may vary between a horse’s individual needs, 6-8 weeks is an average interval between trimmings and shoeing. Maintain a good relationship with your farrier, as this is crucial for your horse’s well-being. You should be able to communicate with your farrier about any soundness issues or concerns.
- Avoid frequent environment changes to hooves. Your horse’s hooves can adapt outside conditions over time; however hooves will suffer when the environment fluctuates between wet and dry. Take measures to prevent some of these changes. For example, simply not allowing him to stand in the mud can help. During dry weather, horses are prone to having dry, brittle feet that easily develop hoof cracks. Hoof moisturizers to the hoof wall and sole may lend support, but it is best to ask your farrier or veterinarian for their advice first.
- Maintain your horse’s nutrition. Correcting a horse’s nutrition can gradually improve hoof health over time. This includes feeding good quality hay, providing access to clean water, and working with your vet to determine whether your feeding program is appropriate for your horse’s nutritional needs.
- Supplements that may lend support. Independent university research has shown that horses with poor quality hooves can benefit from commercially available hoof care products that contain Biotin, Methionine, Lysine, Zinc, Copper, etc. Biotin is a B vitamin involved in glucose metabolism, grown, and utilization of niacin. It is essential in the maintenance and growth of healthy hooves. Horses with poor quality hooves may benefit from biotin supplementation at a level of approximately 20 mg per day.
Because hooves grow about ¼ inches per month, it could take up to a year for your horse to grow out a completely new hoof. This is a great reason why it is important to support healthy hooves year-round.