Horse hoof care is one of the most important basics things you should do when caring for your horse. It is not time consuming and once mastered, can be done in no time at all. The horse's hooves need constant care and have to be picked with a hoof pick. It is important to remove the dirt, dung and small stones so that the horse does not get lame or the hoof get diseased. A farrier - The person who shoes the horse and who knows a lot about anything related to a horse's feet, should always examine and thoroughly clean the hooves when the shoes are changed or the hooves are trimmed, every six to eight weeks in the summer months. Winter months the hooves will grow slower and will require less trimming, especially in colder climates. However, it is important for the rider to pick and clean the hooves before and after each ride in order to keep them healthy, in addition to establishing a close relationship with the horse.
Always Be Training
I find this is a good once a day training time. My horse has to stand still and be well mannered while I care for each hoof. Put your horse in cross ties or hitch or take this opportunity to teach ground tying. I start with foals at one week of age to get them used to having their feet picked up and each hoof cared for. I don’t hold onto the foot for long once I have it off the ground, increasing the length of time as they get better about picking it up. I try not to let it go until they are not struggling to take it away. Once the horses hoof is still, I set it back down. Wait a minute, then pick it back up. By doing this the horse gets the idea that if I keep it still my hoof will get set back down. Pretty soon you will be caring for your horses hooves without any struggle.
Treat Hoof Problems Early
Examine each hoof with care for any sign of bacterial infection called thrush - dark ooze, foul smell or abscess from the cleft. Also check for broken, injured, cracked or punctured hooves due to stones or nails etc. All hoof problems must be treated with care immediately to prevent further damage and lameness to the horse. Over the counter medication quickly takes care of most problems if treated early on. Also, examine the hooves for dryness. In dry climates and hot summer months can make the hoof hard and brittle, causing more chance of cracking and chipping and requiring extra care. A farrier must be consulted on a regular basis for general maintenance. The farrier will check for other hoof conditions like club foot, under-run heels or flare in-the-hoof when shoeing, trimming and performing his/hers scheduled care. Most farriers are extremely knowledgeable about horses and can diagnose many hoof conditions.
A Good Farrier is Priceless
The farrier will trim and clinch the hooves when shoeing but the rider must care for each hoof before and after each ride. Call your farrier if any problems arise in between scheduled appointments. Good hoof genes make for better hooves but a horse can be helped along with diet supplements to grow healthy and strong hooves. Black hooves are known to be stronger and harder than white hooves. Checking the hooves for loose shoes or injuries and remedying the problem in time can prevent more serious injuries and recovery time. Remember that the horse's full weight is on its hooves and healthy hooves make a healthy horse. Your proper hoof care and attention will help to keep your horse healthy and happy.