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The Very Best in Horse Care

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Healthy Hoofcare Tips!

Published 1st November 2012


Written by Nigel Brown, AWCF, as published in Horse Magazine, July 2012 


  1. Some of the most common complaints received by farriers referring to stud holes can be easily prevented by good maintenance. Do not put studs into dirty stud holes. Stud holes can easily gather mud and debris and must be cared for to minimise the risk of problems. Add oil or Vaseline to the hole immediately after your horse has been shod and when studs have been removed following an event (prior to travelling home). Pack the holes with cotton wool or foam stud plugs to prevent dirt from entering them.
  2. It is helpful for horse owners to know how to easily remove a shoe if and when necessary. A pair of ‘pull-offs’ is recommended as a minimum. Ask your farrier for a demonstration and if he/she can sell you any tools second hand or recommend where to get them from. Being able to safely remove a pulled/loose shoe until your farrier can get to you may help to prevent damage to the hoof and or injury to the foot.
  3. If a shoe becomes loose on one side and the clenches are tight or you have no shoe removal equipment, stable the horse of possible and wrap the foot with vet wrap / gaffa tape to help keep the shoe in place and prevent it from being pulled off and potentially damaging/injuring the foot until your farrier can get to you. Gaffa tape used in strips over the top of vet wrap with a poultice also forms a fairly strong boot helping to keep poultices in place.
  4. 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.
  5. Maintaining the condition of your horse’s hooves regularly and getting to know your horse’s feet will help to keep hooves in good condition alongside regular farrier appointments and picking feet out daily. 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.
  6. Establishing a good working relationship with your farrier with good lines of communication will help to ensure your horses feet are well cared for. Plan ahead; keep your farrier informed of your intentions.
  7. Do clean your horse’s feet and legs prior to your farrier appointment – you wouldn’t go to the dentist after eating a Mars bar having not cleaned your teeth! 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.
  8. Make sure overreach boots fit properly. When your horse is stationary the overreach boot should cover the bulbs of the heel and just touch the floor, otherwise they cannot do their job!
  9. If your horse is hammer shy to help make him/her feel more at ease whilst having his feet attended to, cotton wool or ear plugs may be inserted prior to the farrier’s arrival to help lessen the noise.
  10. If you suspect laminitis, get your horse/pony in, ideally on a clean, deep shavings bed which will help to provide support to the feet and relief to the horse. A rolled up tail bandage attached over the frog with vet wrap could provide essential pressure until the farrier or vet arrives.


Do it now!

Check your studs! Make sure your studs have been stored in a clean box or tin, preferably dried and cleaned before storage. Rusty studs will not insert and will damage threads of both stud and hole. Clean stud holes and prepare the hole before your leave for the event. This will make it quicker and safer than trying to do this once you arrive in the lorry park.