Posted by Gabby Gufler, Wed, Mar 5, 2014
Spring is almost upon us! Soon, horses will be shedding their winter coats and kicking up their heels in delight at the warmer weather. For equestrians, this means the start of show season, trail riding and more hours of sunlight during which to enjoy time in the saddle.
Although this is a very joyful time of year, spring brings its own set of horse hoof challenges. For horses living outside, the wet conditions of spring can lead to thrush, lost shoes, hoof bruising, abscesses, frog sloughing and much more.
Check out these 8 tips to prevent hoof problems this spring!
- Pick out your horse’s feet. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is the single most important one! A surprising number of horse owners admit that they do not pick out their horse’s feet daily. But by doing so, you get a chance to take early action on many horse hoof problems. Ideally, you should pick out your horse’s feet before and after each ride, when you bring them in at night, and before you turn them out in the morning. This may seem like a lot of hoof picking, but it is that important!
- Establish what’s normal. While handling your horse’s feet, notice their temperature and texture. This will help you determine if something may be off. Don’t be alarmed if everything looks okay, but your horse’s frog appears to be peeling off. This is called frog sloughing and can occur up to two times per year.
- Look for abnormal signs. When picking your horse’s feet, look for signs of: Thrush: The first clue is a foul odor and a dark ooze coming from the cleft of the frog. If left untreated, the frog will become cheesy in texture and eventually lead to lameness. Thankfully, it is generally easy to spot and treat. Use an over-the-counter treatment recommended by your farrier or veterinarian if you think your horse may have thrush. Hoof Cracks: There are many different types of cracks you may encounter on your horse’s hoof. Some may be superficial, while others can cause lameness without proper attention. If you notice a crack in your horse’s hoof, call your farrier to determine whether it needs attention. Puncture: If a small object pierces your horse’s sole and falls out, it is likely that the puncture will be invisible by the time you pick out your horse’s feet (sometimes you may be unaware until an abscess forms). In some cases, however, the object may remain in place. If this is the case, do not pull the object out and call your veterinarian right away so they can remove the object and treat the puncture. Hoof Abscess: If your horse’s foot is warmer than usual or their pulse feels stronger than normal, your horse may have an abscess. Abscesses can form from many different types of injuries such as an overlooked puncture or bruise. Hoof abscesses often cause lameness as a result of the pressure due to increased blood flow to the affected area. If you think your horse may have an abscess, call your veterinarian immediately.
- Schedule regular farrier visits. Depending on your horse’s individual needs, determine a schedule for trimming or shoeing. If your farrier is addressing a problem such as under-run heels, your horse may benefit from shorter intervals. If everything looks fine, six to eight weeks is a good rule to follow.
- Check for loose or missing shoes. Mud is the perfect environment in which to create loose shoes. If the ends of the nails your farrier trimmed and clinched are sticking out from the hoof, it is a sign that the shoe has loosened. Not only can your horse cause damage to the hoof if the shoe is lost, but they can injure themselves if they brush a leg on one of the risen clinches. If you notice that your horse’s shoe is loose, contact your farrier and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
- Help your horse grow healthy hooves. Some horses naturally have better hooves than others, but there are several things you can do to help enhance any hoof. Add a biotin supplement to your horse’s diet, such as Manna Pro® Sho-Hoof®. Sho-Hoof contains not only biotin, but also methionine and chelated zinc for overall hoof soundness. Plan to use the supplement for six months to a year; that is how long it takes for the added benefits to appear in new hoof growth. Providing exercise will also help encourage hoof growth by increasing circulation to the hooves.
- Protect your horse’s hooves. Did you know that hooves suffer when the environment fluctuates between wet and dry conditions? Unfortunately, this often happens during the months in which we enjoy riding the most: late spring and early fall. Applying a hoof dressing to your horse’s hooves a few times a week will help protect them during this time. Hoof-Heal is a dressing that helps optimize moisture balance in dry and wet conditions and create a flexible barrier for protection.
- Avoid turning your horse out in extremely muddy conditions. Not only does mud encourage conditions such as thrush, but it is also hard on shoes and increases the risk of injuries due to falling. If possible, turn out your horse in a dry paddock at all times, or simply do not turn them out at all.
Be prepared this spring and dress your horse’s hooves with Hoof-Heal!
- A Horse Journal Top Pick hoof dressing!
- Prevents and restores brittle and cracked hooves
- Optimizes moisture balance for wet and dry conditions
- Creates a flexible barrier for optimal protection
- Creates a lasting healthy shine
See what horse owners are saying about Hoof-Heal!
“Hoof Heal is hands-down, the best hoof dressing. I have tried many brands over the years and now only use Hoof Heal. I’ve seen noticeable improvement when I use it at least once a week (usually 2-3 times per week). It absorbs well and just works!” – Jenny, Charlottesville, VA
“There are not enough stars for this product. My farrier saw results in just a few weeks! I recommend Hoof Heal to all of my friends!” – Taylor, NJ
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