Guest Author - Kim Wende
The horses hoof is their foundation and just like a house if you don't have a good foundation it will eventually come crumbling down. Like the saying goes “No Hoof No Horse”! Hoof care is not the sole responsibility of the farrier as you play a very important part in the health of their hooves too.
Cleaning out their hooves is so simple and basic and is important for keeping their hooves healthy. Get in the habit of cleaning out their hooves before you ride, after you ride or before exercising them on the lunge line or in the round pen.
It's great if you can clean them out daily, but the reality is most people don't. Do your best to clean them out at least once a week.
When cleaning out their hooves check to make sure everything looks normal and that there are no visible puncture wounds. There may be times when your horse has stepped on something and you won't notice the puncture wound until it turns into an abscess.
If you find an embedded object don't pull it out instead wrap the hoof to keep the object in place and call the veterinarian. If you have a stall to put them in that would be best until your veterinarian arrives.
Every six to eight weeks you should have your horse's hooves trimmed by a professional farrier. This is just a general guideline as some horses may require their hooves trimmed sooner while others can go longer. Don't wait until your horse is in bad need of having their hooves trimmed because a good farrier will be booked weeks in advanced.
It is important to have your horse's hooves trimmed properly and on a regular basis. If you allow their hooves to grow too long they will start cracking, splitting and it could lead to lameness. Long hooves will also cause your horse to be out of balance which can cause problems in other areas.
Thrush is something else that can cause problems with the hooves. It is a bacterial condition that has a foul smell. If thrush is left untreated it can eventually cause lameness. When caught in the early stages it is easy to treat.
You can get products from your local feed store or ask your farrier what they do to treat thrush. When treating them for thrush you want to make sure you keep the hooves clean and also make sure their area or stall remains clean and dry.
Another key in keeping your horse's hooves healthy is good nutrition. An indication of unhealthy hooves is contracted heels, thin or brittle hoof walls, rings, thrush, or thin/flat soles. If you see any of these conditions it could mean that they aren't getting enough nutrients.
Encouraging movement helps promote hoof growth, health and strength. It is important to keep your horse's hooves healthy if you want them to stay sound.