How to Care for a Horse Hooves?

Sep 03, 2023 | Super Equestrian


How to Care for a Horse Hooves

One day, my horse and I were about to go for a ride. Suddenly, she denied it and told me, "First polish my heels, then I will think about going out." Though I was avoiding foot care, I did it as she asked because of her suffering.

Horse hooves are the strongest part of the leg. This part bears the whole body’s weight. So, any kind of hoof problem can affect horse performance. 

To keep their hooves healthy, horses need daily foot care. Healthy hooves reduce your headache. It's a lifestyle for a horse. Without further ado, let's get down to the main point….

Hooves Anatomy

The structure of the horse hooves is very complex. Read this section thoroughly to gain better knowledge about hoofs. It will be useful while caring for hooves. 

The first part of the horse foot that is visible is the Hoof Wall. It does not contain nerves or blood vessels. You will be surprised to know that human nails and horse hooves' walls have the same protein, called Keratin. Like human nails, horses' hooves grow. It expands 3–8 inches per month. They can be either black or white. The color difference has no effect on the quality.

The Coronary Band is the upper part of the hooves, where the hairline meets the hoof wall. This part does not contain nerves or blood vessels. It is a comparatively light color and provides primary growth and nutrition.  

The other important part of the horse hoof is the Frog. It is in a V shape with a comparatively light color and is located on the underside of the hoof. This part is the most sensitive and vulnerable part. As most of the infection easily takes place here.

 The hoof wall does not contain blood flow. A hoof wall consists of - a sole, a white line, an inner wall, and an outer wall. If we look from the outside of a hoof wall first we see the outer wall, then the inner wall and the white line, and finally, we see the sole. The strongest part of the hoof wall is the outer wall that protects inner structures. 

Hooves care

The domestic horse needs daily trimming. You will be surprised to know that wild horses do not need trimming because of their lifestyle. Every day, wild horses travel long distances in search of grass, water, and shelter. Due to this, their hooves are more shaped and trimmed.

Basic care

The most discussed part of horses is hooves care. At the same time, it is the most neglected thing. Foot care should be as basic as feeding and watering. 

Daily Check-Up: 

Pebbles, nails, or pieces of the glass often get into horses' frogs. So, you have to check the horse hooves and the frog every day. Also, hooves are most likely to be affected by bacteria and fungi. If you miss a day, you must check the next day. Also, your farrier should be concerned about peeling off the hooves. 

Shoeing and Trimming: 

Why are we wearing shoes? To protect our feet from dust and getting harmed. The same thing applied to horses. When you are trimming, follow the steps below-

  • Trimming requires several tools, including a hoof wall cutter, also known as a hoof nipper, a hook knife for digging out any objects, a rasp to level the rough areas of the hoof, and gloves to protect your hands.
  • Dry hooves are very hard to trim. Soaking hooves for 15 to 20 minutes will soften them. Soak them twice, in case the hooves dry out during the trimming.
  • Clean the hooves to see them properly. To remove mud from frogs, use a hook knife. 
  • Before going through the trimming process, you must know well about the hoof anatomy and get training for the process. Cut the extra growth along the hoof line with a hoof nipper. You have to decide carefully which part of the hooves you need to work on and how long you should cut the hoof wall. Sometimes cracks are seen in the hooves, and you have to manage them. You must be careful while trimming because a small mistake can put the horses in great danger. Even horses may become lame. 

Advanced care

Balancing should be done in accordance with hoof growth. The growth is mainly dependent on activity level. But the activity changes seasonally. So, you have to care differently according to the season. 

Trimming routine of horse hooves: 

In summer, you should trim at least every 6 to 8 weeks, depending on their foot growth and need. Hot, dry weather and hard ground can damage horse feet. It may cause hoof problems. 

In winter, horses work less and spend more time in their stables eating hay. As a result, hooves grow slower than normal. You should trim at least every 6 to 12 weeks during the winter, depending on the horses’ foot growth. 

Balancing the hooves: 

There are many theories and terms for balancing the hooves. Every horse is not perfect in terms of shape or bones. So, you should balance the horses' hooves to acknowledge it. You can't trim and shoe all of your horses the same way.

There is no ideal rule or process for finding the correct balance. The hoof wall is also not correctly square. It can be rounded, square, or rolled. We have to take the shape of the shoe. You have to watch your horse and trim it accordingly. There are different hoof patterns - like low heels and long toes. Racehorse and riding horses' hooves should be trimmed differently.

Importance of horse hooves care

Hooves are the main balancing part of horses. Any problem in the hooves can affect horse mobility and health. So, you have to pay attention to hoof care. As there is an old saying, "No hooves, No horse".

 When it comes to horse care, the first thing that comes to mind is hoof care. Hooves are cared for to ensure balancing, which improves agility and performance while also improving the horse's quality. If you leave hooves unchecked, they can be cracked or affected by viruses and fungi.

Though you routinely take care of hooves, your horses may need extra care due to any infection, environment, weather, health condition, age, or activity. All horse hooves are not the same. Some get weak or flat hooves, and some get strong. As, you must decide which parts of the hooves require special attention and which only require routine basic care.

 It is a basic right of a horse. If you can't take care of hooves, hire a specialist or certified farrier.  

The common hoof problems and their prevention

The source of hoof problems and prevention is carelessness. There are various types of hoof issues. I am mentioning the most familiar infections and troubles. So let's begin–

Hoof Crack

It is a common problem. There are varieties of crack. You may not know all the crack names, but you might know about some crack if you are a horse owner. Horizontal cracks, grass cracks, and sand cracks are the most common.

The causes of the crack are due to dry weather or frequent changes from wet to dry, discontinuation of trimming, quality of hoof, and genetic issues.

Abscess

It is the most common type of infection. It begins with the wound. The microorganism enters through the wound and creates plasma. The plasma causes internal pressure on the hooves. That causes pain and lameness.

Thrush

It is a frog infection affected by bacteria and fungi. The infection develops in the deep layer. It produces a bad smell and swelling. Your horse feels pain while applying pressure. The cause of infection is dirty, damp, and moist ground.

Hot nails

It happens when a nail or any other outer object enters the hoof or any vulnerable part of the hoof. It is very painful for your horse. You should make an instant decision to deal with this problem. Clean the area and keep it dry and fresh.  

Laminitis

It is an inflammation of and damage to the tissue between the hoof and the underlying coffin bone. It can also be caused by hormonal issues, fractures, or infections. 

Hoof care is the only way to avoid the aforementioned issues and diseases. Regular checkups and care will keep you away from the veterinarian. 

Why the extra hassle, mate!! Go for a pedicure in a parlor with your horse and be happy!!

Ending

It feels good to have a stable full of horses. They are like your children. It also comes with responsibilities. You can't neglect your family responsibilities.  

Hoof care is often overlooked by owners. But you have to remember that if you care about your horses, they will give you a good performance.  

We should positively handle this matter. Horse comfort is our priority. Your small effort can make a huge difference in a horse's life. Share your thoughts on the issues you face in hoof care.

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