By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
Come rain, sunshine or snow, caring for your horse’s hooves should be a mainstay of your daily horse care routine. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that statement is especially true when it comes to hoof care. Even if you’ve only got five minutes to spare at the barn, spending part of that time picking out your horse’s feet and checking for soreness, signs of injury and loose or missing horseshoes or horseshoe nails is well worth the effort. In the winter, that routine should include checking your horse’s feet for balls of ice or hard-packed snow that might cause your horse to trip or stumble. In this blog, we’re pulling together some of our favorite hoof care tips for conscientious horse owners just like you!
1. Collect the right tools for the job.
Many horse owners like to keep a full set of basic farrier tools in their barn, including a hoof knife, nail pullers, hoof trimmers and more. If you know how to use them properly, these tools can be a lifesaver next time your horse has a loose shoe. If you don’t know how to use these tools, ask your farrier to show you how in case of an emergency. Most farriers would prefer to show you how to pull a loose shoe safely and correctly rather than deal with the aftermath of an uneducated owner pulling a shoe incorrectly. Just ask nicely!
2. Invest in a great farrier.
3. Feed for healthy hooves.
Good nutrition is key for all aspects of a horse’s health, and that includes growing healthy feet. If you’re concerned about your horse’s nutritional needs, consult an equine nutritionist. He or she may recommend a supplement rich in biotin, which is essential for healthy hoof growth.
4. Become familiar with the signs of disease or injury.
Thrush, white line disease and abscesses are all common hoof problems. Do yourself and your horse a favor by learning to recognize the signs of these problems so that you can call your veterinarian or farrier as soon as possible. Thrush is generally easy to recognize – trust us, the first time you smell it, you’re not likely to forget it! – but white line disease can be a little trickier to diagnose. Hoof abscesses can also be tricky to diagnose and find at first, but if your horse is prone to them, you’ll quickly learn the subtleties of how abscesses present and cause lameness.
5. Keep an eye out for mud, rocks and standing water.
Depending on where you live, mud may be a fact of life, but it’s not the best environment for healthy hooves. Do your best to assess your property for problem areas and adjust the drainage accordingly to help siphon off standing water or dry out muddy patches. If your property has serious drainage issues, consult a landscaping or agricultural expert for help with constructing a better drainage system.
6. Make regular manure removal a habit.
If your horses must live in dry lots or small paddocks part of the year or spend a ton of time in their run-in shed, chances are good they’re going to end up standing in their own manure and waste. That’s a recipe for thrush and other hoof problems, so grab your pitchfork and wheelbarrow and get to work! Use sawdust or shavings liberally in the run-in to help soak up urine and other matter, then change it out on a regular basis. If your horse is stalled, the same policy applies. Clean those stalls well and often!
7. Try Silver Hoof EQ Therapy by Draw It Out!
This brand-new product from Draw It Out helps to maintain healthy hooves by providing protection against a wide spectrum of microbial infections, balancing the moisture content of the hoof and supplying the nutrients needed for strong hoof growth. Silver Hoof EQ Therapy can help improve dry, cracked and chipped hooves as well as restore and support flexible, healthy hooves. When applied, this proprietary hoof conditioner blend creates a breathable moisture barrier that is antibacterial and antifungal. For active infections, treat 1 to 2 times daily for a minimum of 3 days. For maintenance and to prevent infections, treat twice weekly.
Like all Draw It Out products, Silver Hoof Eq Therapy is all natural and formulated to be as safe as possible for people and animals. If you’re worried about your horse’s hooves, this product deserves a spot in your grooming tote.