Bare Hoof Care & Hoof Treatment – Helpful Tips For You And Your Horse!
The horse’s hooves are the direct and only connection between your animal and the ground. It is therefore all the more important that the hooves are clean, free of debris and intact. Here you will learn how to properly care for your horse’s bare hooves and what to look for to prevent inflammation and give your horse a good start to each day.
The be-all and end-all of hoof care: Sufficient exercise for your horse
When you think about care, sufficient daily exercise will not necessarily come to mind at this moment. But beware: Only a horse that gets enough exercise and on the right surface will stay healthy. The blood circulation of the hooves and thus the basis of healthy hoof organs are based on the daily movement of the horse controlled by you, as well as on the additional free movement of the horse. It is important to take a lot of time or to give the horse a run, where it can trot extensively, change its pace and move naturally.
Cleanliness in the horse stall
A clean horse stall, free of feces and urine, is essential for horse health. Urine and accumulated moisture attack the hooves and promote softening of the horny layer. It is your daily task to remove the droppings and provide a fresh surface. If it rains heavily and the turnout is heavily muddy, it may happen that your horse spends the day in the stable. In this case, it may be necessary to clean once in the morning and a second time in the evening.
Before a ride, visually inspect the hooves to make sure they are intact, the shoes are tight, and the tread is free of stones and other environmental debris. With a hoof scraper, you’ll have this daily task done quickly and safely, and you’ll see that the ritual is no longer a challenge for you and your horse after just a few days.
Tips for hoof scraping
In addition to stones and mud, litter and manure must be removed from the horse’s hooves. Here you proceed very carefully and purposefully with the scraper. Even the smallest amount of manure residue can cause dangerous and painful thrush, which can lead to your horse needing expensive veterinary treatment or, if not treated, developing life-threatening sepsis. Scraping the hooves takes a lot of meticulousness and care, as well as all of your daily attention. If small debris gets stuck in hoof grooves, use a hoof rasp to gain access to the debris and then remove it with a sharp object, such as a hoof knife. Then apply a small amount of hoof balm.
Horseshoe control and cleaning
If your horse wears horseshoes, you should check that the shoes are tight and that no dirt has accumulated under them as part of your daily cleaning and care. Dirt can be removed with a hoof scraper for barefoot horses as well as for horses shod with horseshoes. What horseshoe checking is to shod animals, edge checking is to barefoot horses. Torn, uneven or sharp-edged hoof sides pose a high risk of injury to your horse and to you. On a trail ride, the animal could stumble and fall because it is not standing securely on its hooves or is experiencing treading pain. With a hoof rasp you can easily eliminate this risk and make your horse feel comfortable and safe with every step.
Well-groomed hooves for the health of your horse
Regular washing of the hooves is not a daily task, but it is necessary several times a week. Especially on muddy days or after a ride, it is important that you clean the hooves with lukewarm water and then apply a care ointment. There are hoof care products such as hoof oil, hoof grease and hoof tar – so there is a suitable care product for every need and for every season after hoof washing. A tip: If your horse does not like the hoof wash in a bucket or with the garden hose, there is a practical and quite effective possibility. Put your horse in the pasture early in the morning and use the morning dew, which automatically provides the necessary washing of the hooves and the necessary moistening of the horn layer.
Until the farrier comes…
Despite the greatest care and daily checks, the loosening, or even the loss of a horseshoe cannot be ruled out. A visit of the farrier is mandatory and without a longer waiting period. Of course, this does not always work out on the exact day you notice the problem. The best thing to do is to take your horse to the farrier every 6 to 8 weeks and let the expert check whether the iron is in place and whether the underlying horn layer needs to be ground down. If you wait too long, uneven horn growth can lead to walking problems with serious tendon damage. Even barefoot horses need to be checked by a farrier at regular intervals. Here an interval of 10 weeks is recommended. If your horse has lost a shoe, it must stand on soft, clean ground until the farrier visits and must not be ridden.
Each season requires special care
On wet days, as well as in autumn and winter, you should take care that the hooves do not soften. To avoid this danger, special greasing hoof care products such as hoof balm are beneficial. Hoof oil and balm also keep away road salt, for example, and prevent the hooves from drying out through contact with the de-icing salt. Remember, a lot does not help a lot. If you overdo it with the greasing, the opposite effect can occur and the hooves of your horse dry out due to the care measures.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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