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  • August 10, 2023 3 min read

    Top 10 Tips for Healthy Hooves 

    The health of a horse's hooves is paramount to its overall well-being and performance. Strong, well-maintained hooves are essential for proper movement, balance, and comfort. To ensure your equine companion enjoys optimal hoof health, it's crucial to implement a comprehensive care routine. In this article, we will explore some effective tips to improve and maintain hoof health in horses.

    1. Regular Farrier Visits

    Scheduling routine visits with a skilled farrier is fundamental for hoof maintenance. Professional farriers trim hooves to maintain proper balance, address any issues, and apply shoes if necessary. A regular trimming schedule prevents overgrowth, uneven wear, and potential lameness.

    2. Balanced Diet

    A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients, especially biotin, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, contributes to strong hooves. Consult with an equine nutritionist to formulate a diet tailored to your horse's specific needs. Adequate hydration is also critical, as dehydration can lead to brittle hooves.

    3. Clean and Dry Living Conditions

    Hooves exposed to prolonged moisture are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Ensure your horse has access to clean, dry living quarters. Regularly clean hooves to remove dirt and debris, reducing the risk of infection.

    4. Proper Exercise

    Regular exercise stimulates blood flow to the hooves, promoting growth and overall health. Engage your horse in consistent, appropriate exercise to enhance circulation and encourage healthy hoof development.

    5. Regular Hoof Cleaning

    Thoroughly clean the hooves daily to prevent dirt buildup and infection. Use a hoof pick to gently remove debris from the hoof clefts and the sole. This practice also allows you to monitor for any signs of injury or infection.

    6. Avoid Excessive Hard Surfaces

    Constant exposure to hard surfaces like concrete can lead to excessive wear and potential hoof damage. Provide softer footing in the horse's living area or exercise spaces to minimize strain on the hooves.

    7. Monitor for Warning Signs

    Stay vigilant for signs of hoof problems such as cracks, thrush (fungal infection), and white line disease. Early detection allows for timely intervention and prevents minor issues from escalating.

    8. Optimal Hoof Protection

    When engaging in activities that put extra strain on hooves, such as jumping or heavy riding, consider using protective boots or shoeing your horse. Boots and shoes can provide extra cushioning and support, and traction, reducing the risk of injury.

    9. Reduce the stomp 

    Some horses are particularly bothered by biting insects, such as flies. Ensure your horse has adequate protection from insects, as some horses will stomp or run excessively to get away from them. It is generally this hard stomping and running that can cause cracks in hooves as well as cause loose shoes. 

    10. Reduce exposure to excess moisture 

    Hooves will readily absorb moisture, and when they do they swell and become soft. In warmer weather, if horses' hooves are exposed to water regularly, such as during baths, the hooves will swell from the moisture and then as they dry, they will contract. The swell and contract cycle, if regular, may cause shoes to loosen, and fall off. The best way to avoid this is by keeping hooves as dry as possible, particularly during summer. One way to do this is to sponge horses off after and workout as opposed to hosing them. 

    Caring for your horse's hooves is an essential aspect of responsible horse ownership. By implementing a comprehensive care routine that includes regular farrier visits, proper nutrition, cleanliness, exercise, and vigilance for warning signs, you can significantly improve and maintain the health of your horse's hooves. A combination of preventive measures and attentive care will contribute to your horse's overall comfort, performance, and longevity.

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