Horses: Hoof care and maintenance
‘No feet, no horse’ is often said. It is important for the entire constitution of the horse that he can move pain-free and sufficiently. It is therefore very important to take good care of and check the hooves of your horse. When should your horse go to the blacksmith and what are all those remedies on the market?
It is important to scratch your horse’s hooves every day. Because a horse walks a lot, often on different types of surfaces, it may be that stones or other sharp objects have become trapped in its hooves. With a hoof pick you can easily remove the dirt and stones from the hooves. By making this act a daily ritual, you immediately have the time to give all hooves a short inspection. Look at the shape, structure and depth of the beam (grooves), see if there are stones in the white line, what does the hoof wall look like and is the coronary edge undamaged? By viewing this daily, differences are quickly noticeable and you are quick to deal with hoof problems. Scratching hooves is a very useful daily chore.
Trimming and / or fogging
A horse’s hoof grows a whole hoof length in about a year. Because of the way we keep horses nowadays, they often need too long or they wear out incorrectly. The horse should be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks. This means that the farrier returns the hoof to its natural position by locally cutting off some of the hoof. The beam is also cropped again. Some horses wear their hooves nicely and can go a little longer without a blacksmith. Always discuss with your blacksmith what is best for your horse.
Sometimes it may be necessary for the horse to stand on shoes. Some horses only have shoes on the front legs, some have shoes on all four hooves. The latter is also called ‘covering square’. There are many different opinions about whether or not horses are shoeing. It is important to find a good farrier and to be well informed about the possibilities. In addition, it can also be useful to educate yourself about what a correct hoof position is and what hoof problems there are. This way you can spot anomalous things more quickly and contact your blacksmith when a problem seems to arise between trimming.
A horse can get many different disorders on its hooves. This can have many different causes. There are disorders that are caused by standing on a dirty surface, by improperly trimmed or not trimmed or by external trauma. When the horse has something on its hooves, it is always important to get a certified farrier. He can, possibly in consultation with a vet, draw up and start a treatment plan.
Common ailments are hoof ulcers, rock blast and nailing. A hoof ulcer is an inflammation of the sole of the skin. Often the horse is acutely lame. The ignition often has to be cut out by a blacksmith. Then the pus can come out and the horse will have much less pain complaints. It is important to keep the cut part clean. The cause of a hoof ulcer is usually a dirty soil (for example certain litter).
Rock jet is created by a bacteria and is maintained by a dirty soil. It is important to keep the place where the horse is standing dry and clean. A blacksmith can try to keep the affected part of the beam as clear as possible. Oxygen kills the bacteria, so it is important that the jet is properly updated.
Nailing is a mistake of the farrier. The nails with which the horseshoe is secured are then placed incorrectly, making it sensitive to the horse. The farrier must return to remove the nail and reattach the iron. Usually nailing is noticed immediately because the horse will already react when nailed.
How do I keep the hoof healthy?
Exercise is the most important thing to keep a hoof healthy. The lower leg of a horse has no muscles, only tendons. With every step a horse takes, blood is pumped through the hoof, keeping the hoof healthy. The horse must therefore be able to move sufficiently to maintain good blood circulation in the hoof.
Also take a good look at your horse’s hooves. Are they dry and do they have a tendency to crack and crumble? Then give them some extra moisture. For example, make a small mud pool near the water bowl in the meadow where your horse has to stand in it when he goes to drink something. In addition, there are also products on the market that claim to restore the moisture balance in the hoof. However, cracks and crumbling hooves are also often the result of insufficient trimming or incorrect trimming. Because the pressure distribution in the hoof is not good, cracks appear in the bearing wall.
There are many remedies on the market to keep the hooves in good condition. There are products for the hoof wall, such as fat and oil. There are also products for the sole and the radius. The latter products often make the radius and sole harder, so that problems such as rock jet are less likely.
Most farriers are not in favor of lubricants on the hoof wall because they keep moisture out. Talk to your farrier about how to best care for your horse’s hooves.
Hoof oil seals the hoof. If you want to use this, you will need to make sure that the hooves already contain moisture and are wet. Otherwise the product will be counterproductive. It then keeps out the moisture that you want to contain.
Hoof fat is a thicker substance than hoof oil, but has the same effect. Hoof grease is available in different colors. Black for black hooves, white for white hooves. Green hoof fat often contains bay leaf ointment. Laurel ointment on the corolla appears to promote horn growth, but this has not been scientifically proven.
Hoof tar is used on the underside of the hoof. It is used to seal the hoof and repel moisture. You can imagine that this causes problems with dry hooves.
The above products have been used for years. Yet they have some drawbacks and manufacturers jump in on this. For example, there are more and more products available that claim that they can absorb moisture into the wall. User experiences vary. It is a matter of trying out whether it has added value for you.
The so-called sole and jet hardeners are also increasingly on the market and are widely used. This allows the jet to dry faster, something that can be a good support, especially in the wetter months. However, a too dry jet is also not good and these remedies often contain aggressive ingredients. Use these resources with policy and in consultation with your farrier.
Biotin is an additive that can be given in powder form as a nutritional supplement to the horse. It appears to promote horn growth, giving the horse better horn quality and therefore better hooves. If you want to try if this works for your horse, you will have to feed it for a long time before you can see the difference. After all, the hoof grows slowly, so you will only be able to say something about its effectiveness after six months.