Here are 6 things that every horse owner should know about hooves:
- Hoof problems can (and probably will) strike at any time.
- Hooves are delicate
- Diet impacts hoof health
- Farrier visits are not optional
- Daily maintenance is a must
- Prevention of hoof issues = money saved
Why are hooves delicate and how does diet impact hoof health? Let’s take a look...
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1. Hoof Problems Can (and Probably Will) Strike at Any Time
Horses are basically accidents on four legs. If you’ve owned horses for quite some time, you know that hoof problems can and do happen unexpectedly. Your horse may be fine one day, then favor one hoof over another the next morning. Who knows? Maybe a stone in the pasture bruised him.
Expect the unexpected and have your vet or farrier’s number handy. When disaster strikes, take a picture with your phone and send it to your professional. They’ll advise you on what to do next. Many hoof problems are minor, but responding to them early is huge for preventing larger, chronic problems in the future.
2. Hooves are Delicate
Despite being large, much of the horse’s body is delicate and so are their hooves. They balance one thousand plus pounds of body weight on four small pieces of keratin. What may seem like miniscule changes in diet can spiral into a whole host of hoof problems like laminitis and the accompanying coffin bone rotation.
Be mindful of how delicate your horse’s hooves are when you ride down a stoney trail or paved street. If you often do activities on hard surfaces that put stress on his bare hooves, talk with your farrier about hoof protection such as shoes or rubber boots.
3. Diet Impacts Hoof Health.
.A balanced diet with the right amount of nutrients is key to supporting hoof health, strength and growth. Even if there’s nothing wrong with the hooves now, there may be in the future if your horse isn’t receiving the right nutrients.
You wouldn’t give a child a multivitamin only when there’s something wrong with him, right? You’d give it to him daily so his body has the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. It’s the same with supplementing your horse’s hooves.
When you give his body the right nutrients, he uses them to build quality hoof cells. A Good Supplement with 20mg of biotin and the right amounts of lysine, methionine and other crucial nutrients can help your horse’s hooves recover naturally, grow faster and remain healthy long-term.
4. Farrier Visits are Not Optional
Regular hoof care and trimming from a good farrier is important for keeping the hooves healthy and well-balanced. An overgrown or unbalanced hoof can cause many painful problems like cracks from ill-distributed weight and abscesses from bacteria getting trapped in the crack. Unbalanced hooves can also affect structures above the hoof like muscles and joints.
5. Daily Maintenance is a Must
If you clean out and look at your horse’s hooves every day, you can catch small injuries and problems before they become disasters. Simply removing dirt and debris from your horse’s hooves for a few minutes each day can help guard against:
- White Line Disease
Handling your horse’s hooves every day also has the added benefit of better cooperation when the farrier arrives.
6. Prevention = Money Saved
Taking good care of your horse’s hooves inside and out saves you money long-term. Some horse owners don't want to invest the time each day to clean hooves. Others don’t want to invest in an experienced farrier or a good supplement.
However, an experienced farrier is worth their weight in gold when you consider how much of your horse’s life is controlled by hoof health and balance. Also, spending 5 minutes per day on hoof cleaning and 50 cents per day on a good supplement is easier on your wallet than spending thousands of dollars on steep vet and farrier bills for chronic hoof issues.