The Four Factors that Determine Horse Hoof Health
Every horse comes equipped with his own genetic make-up and heritage, not only determining conformation and ability, but also factors like hair color, hair thickness and hoof quality. This is what you have to work with!
Horses are well-cared for today. Most horses receive all the feed and nutrients they could possibly need - and then some! Farriers can share many examples of horses suffering from sub-clinicial laminitis, for example, due to improper feed - mostly too rich, too sweet, too much!
If your horse suffers from hoof problems of any kind, your first go-to topic should be FEED! Get advice from an equine nutritionist and remember the mantra: Less is (possibly) more!
Consider doing without:
- Sweet feed
- Sweet treats
- Unlimited access to lush pastures
- Biotin supplement
- Herbal products
- Brewer's yeast
Your horse's environment is an equally important factor, with excessive moisture or exposure to acidic waste (urine) or environments that harbor fungus and bacteria (soiled paddocks), you will be fight an uphill battle, trying to get your horse's hoof healthy.
Conditions that destroy hooves:
- Excess moisture (soggy pastures, muddy paddocks)
- Environments changing from extgreme moisture to dryness (24-hour turnout in changing weather conditions or rainy summers)
- Exposure to acidic waste (urine-soiled straw or bedding, for example)
- Fungi, bacteria and the environments they thrive in (think dirty and moist!)
- Moving on soft, moist grounds 24/7
Conditions that help your horse's hooves stay healthy:
- Moist, but not wet pastures and paddocks
- Clean, manure-free paddocks
- Clean, urine-free stall bedding
- Exposure to various surfaces (lime, gravel, etc.)
4. Hoof Care
Hoof care is important but truly comes last as hoof care alone cannot make up for any of the unfavorable conditions around feed & environment. Hoof care can - however - provide the best possible support for healthy hooves, no matter what the genetic make-up of your horse's hoof may be.
That is - if you follow the basic care routines and choose the right products to support your horse's hoof health.
Hoof Care Steps:
- Pick hooves daily, get into crevices to remove small pebbles that cause mechanical damage and caked-on dirt where fungi and bacteria thrive
- For ease, use a hoof pick that has a brush and a flat scraper to clean the hoof sole
- Pick hooves before and after working the horse
- Wash (if needed)
- A bucket with clear water, a rag and a hoof brush is all you need.
- Apply water to the hoof with a rag, then let it soak a minute, brush the dirt off with the hoof brush, and clean the hoof with your rag.
- Either wait for the hoof to dry or pat dry with a rag.
- Apply hoof conditioner to the dry hoof (see the hoof product selection chart).
- Apply any special hoof treatment (thrush preventative, etc.) at this time.
- Make this part of your grooming routine.
- Clean the feet, even if you don't have time for any other grooming tasks.
Hoof care products should be
- As natural as possible
- Free of harsh chemicals
- Proven and recommended by professionals
- Easy to use (not too messy)
- Serve a specific purpose (one solution does not fit all!)
Use our handyto find the right product for your horse: