Horse Hoof Care

Making sure your horse has clean hooves helps maintain his health and beautiful appearance. The hoof is a highly specialized horny shell that covers and protects the sensitive structures of the horse”s foot. While it may seem indestructible, you”ll have to be careful when working with your horse”s hooves.

Hoof Care Helps and Hindrances

Graphic example of the bottom of a hoof.You can help your horse have strong hooves into his old age by adhering to a routine of good trimming and shoeing. Allow you horse periods of being barefoot to further promote hoof health. Daily cleanings and hoof dressings also help.

On the other hand, improper or careless shoeing is a sure way to harm your horse”s hooves. In addition, insufficient exercise, poor nutrition and dryness of the hoof wall can lead to poor hoof health.

Why Clean a Horse”s Hooves?

Keeping your horse”s hooves clean keeps them healthy. Use a hoof pick every day to remove the buildup of dirt and debris. Long-term exposure to bacteria can eventually lead to infections. Stones can collect in the hooves and cause bruising.

Hoof Picking Tips

Here are the basics of horse hoof care and cleaning:

  • Be patient, calm and gentle if your horse is not used to having his hooves cleaned.
  • Always use the pick towards the toe (front) of the hoof. Pulling the pick towards the back can allow the pick to get caught in the frog and hurt your horse. This is a very quick way to lose your horse”s confidence in you.
  • Pick your horse”s hooves before and after each ride.
  • Reward your horse for cooperation and finish each hoof on a positive note.

Hoof Care Products

After cleaning your horse”s hooves, you may want to enhance their appearance. Dozens of hoof products are available to moisturize your horse”s hooves and help them to shine. Three categories of products are available:

  • oil/petroleum-based products add moisture
  • creams/lotions add moisture
  • hoof polishes enhance appearance.

Talk to your farrier or veterinarian before you use a product on your horse”s hooves. Choosing the wrong hoof product may exacerbate an existing hoof condition.

Safety Tips for Working with Legs and Feet

Follow these basic safety rules:

  • Tie your horse away from commotion.
  • Walk around the horse quietly.
  • Stroke down the leg and tap behind the knee while giving a verbal command to lift the foot.
  • Make sure that halter ropes are strong and safe.