Are lameness, bruising or cracked hooves an almost constant experience for your horse? Or perhaps your horse has good feet and you want to preserve them. Whatever the situation, here are 6 tips for helping your horse have the best hooves possible.
Keeping Hooves in Top Condition
Since hooves are literally a horse’s foundation, it’s important to keep them in good condition through daily cleaning.
Using a hoof pick to clean out the dirt and debris around the v-shaped frog every day can help prevent many hoof issues. Cleaning out packed in mud can help prevent bacterial infection. Removing lodged-in stones or twigs before and after riding can help prevent puncture injuries and bruising.
Daily Detective Work
Cleaning out your horse’s hooves is also a great time to observe them. Look for signs of problems like cracks, injuries, unnatural heat or a bad smell. You can also check his digital pulse to confirm that it’s strength is normal and healthy.
If your horse is shod, check for shoes that are pulled away from the hoof, bent, or have exposed nails sticking up from the hoof. Contact your farrier about these problems before an injury occurs.
Nutrition That Makes Good Hooves Great
The right nutritional building blocks can grow bad hooves into better ones. If your horse already has good feet, supplementing his diet with the nutrients his hooves need can help them stay healthy and improve.
20mg of biotin will enhance hoof repair and supports fast, high-quality hoof growth. It takes several months for enough hoof-strengthening biotin to build up in the horse’s gut without supplementation.
Zinc is an amazing trace mineral that supports growth rate and healing in your horse’s entire body. When combined with biotin and the right amino acids, it can act as a catalyst for hoof healing and growth.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that your horse can’t produce on his own. It aids in the production of keratin which makes up the majority of the hoof structure. Most modern horse diets are deficient in Lysine, causing the horse to produce less keratin than what’s needed for optimal hoof growth.
Consider the Environment
Consider the footing your horse spends most of his time on. Does he get ridden in dry areas and then hosed down on a daily basis? Is his stall bedding wet because there’s not enough run-off for the urine? Is he constantly standing or being ridden on hard surfaces? Is he turned out into a deep, muddy field?
Going back and forth between extreme wet and dry conditions can cause the hoof wall to expand, then contract. This can lead to cracking. If your horse is standing in constantly wet footing, it’s the perfect breeding ground for bacterial infections like thrush. A constantly wet hoof can also become softer and weaker. Additionally, if your horse is being turned out or ridden on hard or stoney ground, this can lead to cracks, bruises and other injuries.
Considering the environment your horse lives in and taking steps to improve it is a good way to prevent problems and keep those hooves in the best condition.
Get Your Horse Moving
Blood carries nutrients all over your horse’s body. And, your horse’s hoof is designed to pump blood back up to the heart with each step. When blood is flowing, the hooves are receiving the nutrients they need to grow and become strong.
Giving your horse regular exercise, even in the winter, is important for keeping the blood flowing. If your horse is standing in a stall during most of the off season, try walking him around, longing him, or turning him out into a safe enclosure.
Have your Vet or Farrier on Speed Dial
If you notice a problem with your horses hoof, don’t hesitate to take a picture with your phone and send it to your vet or farrier, asking their advice. The advice of an experienced vet or farrier when it comes to your horse’s hooves is just as important as nourishing and protecting them. When a hoof problem arises- and it will no matter how thoughtful the care is- catching it early is the key to minimizing the length and cost of treatment.
With some daily care, support and thoughtfulness, helping your horse have the best hooves is not difficult. The small things that we do each day can either add up to create problems or to improve and preserve strong hooves.