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The Very Best in Horse Care

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Kevin Bacon's 5 ways to Healthy Hooves

Published 28th October 2012

 

As published in Absolute Horse, September 2012

 

Alongside regular farrier appointments and picking feet out daily getting to know your horse’s feet will help to keep hooves in good condition. Early detection of any changes in foot shape or condition may help to prevent, or at least minimize, lameness both short term and long term. Your horse’s feet will become unbalanced before the clenches rise and the shoes become worn. It is far better to have your horse shod before the shoe becomes loose (and potentially losing it) and the hoof becoming damaged and split. It will save money and decrease the risk of unnecessary lameness through bruising/punctures in the long term.

 

Nutrition to the foot is incredibly important for laying down and building those vital structures which keep the hoof solid and strong. Fluctuating weather conditions and seasonal changes in management can have a direct impact on the nutrition the hoof receives. Whilst this is largely out of our control it is always worth consulting a qualified nutritionist to run through your horse’s diet. Ensuring your horse is receiving a balanced diet year round will help to ensure vital nutrients are being delivered to your horse’s feet.

 

Good lines of communication and establishing a good working relationship with your farrier will help to ensure your horses feet are well cared for. Plan ahead; keep your farrier informed of your intentions. If you plan to change your workload, the surface you work on or the type of work you are doing do let you farrier know. He/she may need to alter the way in which your horse is shod to ensure the foot is supported and protected appropriately to cope with the demands that is placed upon it.

 

You wouldn’t go to the dentist after eating a Mars bar having not cleaned your teeth so clean your horses feet and legs before the farrier arrives! Beyond your farrier getting dirty and increasing the risk of accidents through slippy/muddy chaps, farriers use rasps to level, balance and finish the foot – rasps clog particularly easily preventing your farrier from doing the best job he can.

 

Always clean the foot thoroughly prior to the application of topical ointments. A relatively soft wire brush, commonly found in DIY stores, used on the underside of the foot and over the hoof to remove bedding, dirt and debris prior to application of hoof oils/ointments will help to prevent bacteria from being trapped and allowing it to proliferate and allow the application to do it’s work properly.