Keeping hooves healthy depends on several factors such as genetics, your farrier’s care and attention, and proper nutrition. Think of your horse’s hooves as a general indicator of health. When your horse is healthy inside and out, his good feet will reflect that. Here are some helpful tips to improve the story your horse’s hooves are telling.
Boost his Diet
Have you checked your horse’s diet recently? Your horse needs the best diet possible to have healthy hooves. You can feed him high-quality hay or give him supplements, for example. Fatty acids, minerals, protein, and vitamins are some of the essential nutrients your horse needs. Review your horse’s diet with an equine nutritionist to make sure you are setting him up for success.
Choose Good Terrain
Consider the terrain the next time you put your horse to work. Rocky terrain increases the likelihood of your horse’s hooves chipping or bruising. At worst, your horse could develop navicular disease.
If the rain gets your farm muddy, take extra precaution. Mud can render your horse’s hooves soft, making them vulnerable to stone bruises and thrush. Make sure that your horse goes out in an area that is dry and free of rocks.
Regular Farrier Checkups
Just as humans need a regular checkup, your horse also needs to see his farrier. Schedule a checkup every six weeks and keep his hooves trimmed. If too much time passes between trims, your horse’s hooves can become uneven and parts of his hooves can break off. Additionally, if your farrier recommends shoes for your horse, consider it, especially if the hooves are weakening.
Regular Feet Picking
After looking at your horse’s diet, examine his feet. Picking rocks and other debris from your horse’s shoes can improve his hooves. Once you know what your horse’s clean, healthy hooves look like, it will be easier to spot injuries and diseases.
Consistent Hoof Moisture
Even the environment can have an effect on your horse’s hooves. Your horse’s hoof may suffer if the weather often changes from wet to dry. If the weather is too wet, your horse’s hooves can become soft. But if the weather is too dry, your horse’s hooves can crack and become brittle.
In either case, your horse is vulnerable to injuries and disease. Limit your horse’s summer turnout time and avoid unnecessary baths. Make sure your horse’s pasture has no standing water, and use good-quality hoof conditioner.
Now that you have given your horse the best care possible, observe his condition. If you’re still having trouble with achieving shiny and strong hooves, call your farrier or vet. The sooner you spot potential issues in your horse’s diet and lifestyle, the quicker you can get him the help he needs.