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Horse Articles :: No Hoof, No Horse
No Hoof, No Horse
A basic part of horse hoof care is simply picking out the
mud, manure, stones and other debris from the sole of your
horse's hooves. It is simple and yet, this one of the most
neglect parts of horse care. Keeping your horse's hooves clean
goes a long way to help prevent common hoof ailments. At times,
your horse may get small stones lodged in the grooves of the
frog, which can cause bruising. Picking out your horse's hooves
also removes packed mud or snow, which can make it uncomfortable
for your horse to walk. Cleaning your horse's feet will allow
you to see problems such as a puncture wound from something
like a nail.
You will certainly hear or read from horsemen recommending
you pick your horse's feet at least once daily, as well as
before and after a ride. This is no doubt good advice, but
in practical terms, don't go longer than a week without cleaning
and inspecting your horse's hooves.
Keeping your horse's feet clean and dry as much as possible
helps prevent thrush. The flooring of the stable should not
be damp and allow for drainage. Your horse's paddock area
should provide drainage to minimize the amount of time he
has to stand in water and mud. Most of the moisture your horse's
hooves need come from within the hoof itself and is provided
by a healthy diet. Constant contact with wet conditions promotes
rapid drying of the hooves and will cause them to start cracking
Applying a hoof dressing can improve the moisture content
of hooves and help prevent them from cracking. Rubbing hoof
dressing on all parts of the hoof including the hoof wall,
frog, heel and coronet can stimulate healthy new hoof growth.
However, you should not apply hoof dressing too often as it
may prevent the hooves from absorbing moisture naturally.
In the wild, a horse's feet wear down about the same rate
as they grow. A domestic horse's hooves typically do not wear
down as quickly since their hooves may be shod preventing
them from wearing naturally, or simply because they are not
subjected to such severe living conditions and consequently
their feet grow faster than can be worn down.
In general, hooves need to be trimmed every six to eight
weeks requiring the routine care of a professional farrier.
The services of a reliable and experienced farrier are vital
to helping keep your horse's hooves healthy. When choosing
a farrier, ask other horse owners in your area and your veterinarian
for a recommendation. Do not wait until you need a farrier
before trying to find one.
Your farrier can help you decide whether or not your horse
needs to be shod. Horses that are ridden a lot or work on
hard terrain may need horseshoes or boots to protect their
hooves. If your horse's hooves wear too much, the protective
outer covering starts to be lost and the foot can become sensitive
causing lameness. On the other hand, if your horse is more
of a field ornament to be looked at or is only ridden occasionally
then he most likely doesn't need to be shod. Regardless if
your horse is shod or not, his hooves will need regular trimming
to keep them shaped properly.
Without regular trimming, a horse's hooves will grow too long
and can lead to hoof splitting, chipping, cracking and lameness.
Long hooves can put your horse's leg limbs out of balance. Hooves
need to be trimmed to keep them at the correct length and shape
so contact with the ground will be uniform and will not cause
the hoof to chip or split. Shod horses especially need a farrier's
attention on a regular basis due to hoof growth loosening the
shoes and growing over the edge of the shoes.
About the Author
Randall Holman, site owner of FrontRangeFrenzy.com and horse
enthusiast, is the author of this article. You will find other
and practical basic horse care information on his website.