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Essential horse hoof care

Friday 5th August, 2022

horse's hoof

We are a nation of pet lovers, and horses are no exception with 374,000 horse-owning households in Britain! Every horse owner wants what’s best for their horse. After all, they provide us with such joy and each has their own unique personality we grow to love. Whilst horses can’t tell you what they need, we have some essential horse hoof care tips for you to ensure that your horses are in tip-top condition. No foaling around here!

Firstly, why is hoof care important?

The structures in horse’s feet are responsible for supporting the full weight of the horse over a small area. Routine foot care is therefore extremely important, as any problems in the horse’s feet can be extremely detrimental to the horse’s mobility and health.

Tips on horse hoof care

Regular grooming/ cleaning of the hoof 

Regular grooming is essential for keeping on top of your horse’s hoof care. It is recommended to pick your horse’s hooves out daily. It provides an opportunity to inspect the hoof as well as the leg.  Be sure to feel down the horse’s leg before picking up the hoof. Check for stones, debris, cuts or any heat in the foot as this could be an early indicator of laminitis/ infections.

cleaning a horse's hoof

Complete this stage before taking your horse out for a ride and on your return to the stables. You don’t want your horse to be walking uncomfortably.  You can also apply hoof oil every other day to help prevent splits and cracks.  

We all need to trim our nails to be hygienic as well as wear clean and comfortable shoes. Horses are no different! If your horse is shod you need to get the shoes replaced every 6- 8 weeks in the summer and 6-12 weeks in the winter. This will depend on workload and how much hacking you are doing. 

It’s good to note that if the horse hasn’t got shoes, then the farrier will need to come less frequently. But again, this will depend on the workload. Harder surfaces naturally wear the foot down. 

Maintain good hoof balance

If you’re wearing uneven shoes – it makes sense that you wouldn’t be as efficient when walking around! Avoid your horse having the same wobbly feeling with balanced hooves! Not only will they move better but there is less stress and strain on the bones, tendons and ligaments! The ideal horse foot has a straight hoof pastern angle, an easy break over, adequate heel support and medial-lateral balance.  

Nutrition

You know what they say – an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It might not surprise you that good nutrition can help some hoof problems as your horse will be absorbing essential vitamins and minerals! Try: 

  • Feeding with good quality hay
  • Correctly supplement vitamins and trace minerals 
  • Provide constant access to fresh, clean water
  • Cooperate with veterinarians and horse nutritionists to set up a good nutrition plan

What can go wrong if hooves aren’t properly cared for?

While a horse may be able to sustain injury or illness in many parts of its body, the hoof bears weight and so adds hundreds of pounds of stress to any ailment.  Poor hoof care can make horses prone to injuries. It can also cause fungal infections, sole bruises or abscesses of the hoof.

Cleaning a horses hooves

Other infections like thrush can arise if the horses are in wet/ soiled conditions. Thrush invades the sensitive tissues of the hood and causes lameness. Lameness is used to describe a horse’s change in gait. It is usually in response to pain somewhere in a limb, but also possibly as a result of a mechanical restriction on movement. You can treat this by keeping your stables/ barn clean and dry!

How we can help your horse’s foot health at Vale Stables

Every horse should feel looked after, warm and dry right down to their hooves! Here at Vale Stables we offer a range of horse stables to suit all needs and budgets from mobile field shelters to internal stables. Not only that we also do outdoor bespoke timber stables, to meet your and your horse’s needs with our team of trained and experienced carpenters. 

We know that your horse’s health is of the utmost importance and providing a shelter that will keep them in the best health is vital. Contact us to find out more.

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