Hoof care is essential for all horse owners. February is international hoof care month, so there’s no better time to supply you with the tools of proper hoof care. If your horse’s hooves are not properly maintained, it can cause issues like thrush, cankers, and infections. Our guide will give you a quick rundown to keep your horse in tiptop shape all year.
During winter months, horses usually grow less foot, meaning they can tolerate longer trimming intervals. Some horse owners tend to wait longer to schedule a farrier visit for hoof care, but waiting more than eight weeks could be a mistake. A proper trim reduces flare and keeps the bars of the foot maintained, preventing white lines from overstretching. If you wait longer than eight weeks, your horse could have an excessively long toe, and will cause an imbalance.
We mentioned the importance of hoof trimming in the previous section. When it comes to hoof care, you don’t want to “horse” around. An experienced farrier will not only trim the hoof but will also take the time to examine it for cracks and white line stretching. The cracked hoof can cause an abscess formation, which is quite painful for the animal. An infection like this can cause the horse to become sick quickly, so your farrier will know if anything needs medical attention. You want the proper topicals to help keep the hoof from cracking during drier seasons. Your farrier will also check for thrush in the clefts of the hoof. Those are the black secretions that have a terrible odor.
Some horses will be fine with regular horseshoes, but some may need modifications. Talk to your farrier about the best options for your animal. Some hooves require surgical shoes with removable plates or braces, so choose the right features to keep your horse comfortable. Different breeds and sizes have various requirements, and things can change depending on the situations. You also don’t want shoes left on for too long, as they can become loose when the nail heads wear down. Horse hoof boots are also a great way to protect your horse’s legs and hooves. Hoof boots help promote healthy hooves by allowing for hoof expansion and contraction and increased blood circulation. Simple boots and hoof shoes are great for comfort of chronic pain and hoof sensitivity.
Don’t neglect a proper diet for hoof problems. Always feed your horse quality hay and supplement with vitamins and minerals. Horses need access to clean, fresh water. When you correct any nutrient deficits, your horse’s hoof health will gradually get better. Your veterinarian will help you with a diet plan that works to keep the horse healthy and free of hoof issues. Research has shown that hoof problems may improve with extra nutrients, like zinc, iodine, and biotin, so talking to your vet is essential for maintaining good hoof care.
Just as with people, horses have different needs. That’s why having a relationship with a skilled farrier is so invaluable. Farriers provide horses with the necessary care for hoof protection and comfort. Remember, as the owner, you’re in charge of your animal’s welfare and daily care. Keeping track of hoof health can prevent future problems and alert you to any issues that need farrier or vet attention.