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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 and chipping.

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 easy and practical basic horse care information on his website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
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