Horses need love and care too. While people trim and clean their nails, equine hooves also deserve proper trimming. Hooves are essential to horses as much as feet are to humans. Hooves protect the soft tissue underneath and are crucial for walking. But for some animals like horses, hooves are vital for speed and endurance. If you have horses, this article will discuss how you can care for their hooves.
Potential Hoof Problems
The importance of hoof care must be stressed because hooves are also susceptible to diseases. New horse owners might think the hoof is durable, but as it is made of organic material, neglect can also wear it down and cause pain and discomfort.
A common hoof infection that horses experience is hoof thrush. It’s a bacterial or fungal condition that occurs at the grooves and the middle part of the frog, which is the V-shape of the hoof made of spongy tissue. When horses are often in damp, moist, and dirty conditions, they’re most likely to contract it. For example, animals are more likely to develop thrush if they’re often on muddy fields. Symptoms include an unpleasant odor when a discharge is present at the hoof and lameness if it’s painful.
Similar conditions like abscesses can form through bacterial infection when wounds aren’t treated promptly. In some cases, hoof bruising can also occur as a discoloration on the hoof through improper shoeing.
How To Care For Hooves
It’s imperative to regularly oversee the hoof care of your horses as it’s also a way to bond with them. Only do the trimming if you’re confident with your skills. But calling for professionals to perform hoof maintenance is a smart decision you shouldn’t delay. It’ll help you mitigate further damage to your horse’s hoof and health.
A. Clean The Hoof
- Gather your tools for cleaning and trimming horse hooves. These include the following:
- Hoof nippers for the trimming of the hoof
- Gloves for hand protection
- Hook knife for the removal of dirt and residue clogged in the hoof
- Rasp for leveling areas of the hoof
- Farrier chaps for the protection of your legs
- Prepare a container of water, such as a pail, and submerge each hoof for up to 20 minutes to help soften it as much as possible. If you’re in a dry location, the climate can dry out the hooves as you work. Soak them again or use a spray bottle of water to keep the hooves moist.
- Before trimming the hoof, use the hook knife to clear the hooves to remove dirt, rocks or stones, grass, and other material.
B. Trim The Hoof Regularly
Proceed with hoof trimming if you’re experienced with the task. If you still need to, you can clean the hooves as preparation for when it’s time to trim them. Scheduling the trimming of hooves will vary because of the length of time it takes them to grow. The location where the horses frequent is also a deciding factor. For example, if your horses frequent rocky and uneven terrain, you’ll need to inspect the condition of the hooves often as they may need more attention. Depending on the hoof, schedules will range from every two to eight weeks or if overgrown or damaged.
C. Apply Hoof Moisturizers
Dry weather can cause dry and brittle hooves resulting in cracks. You can apply moisturizer to the hoof wall and the sole of the hoof. If your horse is also experiencing hoof rot, you can use a topical antibacterial cream to treat the condition. It’s caused by organisms that can be killed by zinc sulfate.
D. Provide Quality Food And Supplements
What your animals eat also contributes to the health and care of their hooves. Quality hay and organic produce can provide the proper nutrients for your pets. You can also include health supplements with biotin and methionine in their diet that can help with hoof growth. Calcium, manganese, copper, zinc, and lysine are also helpful for the strong development of the hoof horn.
E. Provide Proper Shoeing For Various Weather Conditions
Proper care also involves taking your horse to a farrier for appropriate shoeing. Knowing how to shoe a horse can provide optimum protection and support to your horse’s hooves. Farriers will understand that the shoes must be fitted to the trimmed hoof and not the other way around. They’re also knowledgeable about which kind of shoe is best for your horse.
The shoe’s toe must be directly attached underneath the front of the hoof. The horseshoes must also follow the contour of the hoof. Regular shoeing will suffice in warm months, but it’s a different case during the winter.
In general, it’s best to leave the hoof care when there’s ice and snow in your location to prevent your horses from slipping. Alternatively, you can request shoe pads, borium pads, shoe studs, or ice nails to give your pet more grip on the ground.
Part of caring for your horses is frequently checking their hooves because of how much they use these. The weather and the terrain they walk and run on can contribute to wear and tear that could lead to diseases. Performing regular basic care measures allows you to spot abnormalities before they progress.
Equine owners should know to include hoof cleaning, trimming scheduling, applying moisturizers and medicated topicals accordingly, providing quality food and supplements, and proper shoeing according to weather. Regularly checking equine hooves is vital because it can affect your horse’s speed and performance and avoid diseases that can hinder their movement.