The Importance of a Healthy Hoof

Horse hoof care is an important issue for all horse owners.  While a horse may be able to sustain injury or illness in many parts of its body, the hoof bears weight and so adds hundreds of pounds of stress to any ailment.  Maintaining a healthy hoof is the best way to give your horses a good shot at long, healthy lives.

How do we maintain a healthy hoof? The first step is to make sure you regularly pick out your horse’s hooves. This will help you to take the time to get to know your horse better and give you a great opportunity to check its overall health. The goal of picking out the hoof is to keep out rocks and thrush. If these are not spotted, they could cause many issues for your horses’ comfort and well-being.  This should always be done before and after riding. Just like our fingernails, a horse’s hooves grow continuously over time and need to be trimmed every six to eight weeks to keep them in proper shape.  A trained farrier should do the trimming. Inexperienced horse owners can easily trim the hoof too short, leading to infection or discomfort.  The hooves must also be balanced to the horse’s natural way. If this is not done correctly the horse can end up physically disabled. Not every horse will require shoeing, but if your horses are doing a lot of hard work or working on hard surfaces, the horse will need to be shod.

If a hoof is not maintained properly, it can cause problems such as cankers, bruised sole, abscesses, and cracks in the hoof wall.  Thrush’s and cankers are signs of infection. You will recognize this by the smell and discharge from the frog of the horse. To avoid this keep your horse out of constant wet, and dirty conditions. Bruised soles often occur after a poor shoeing job or if shoes are left on too long. This is why it is important to check your horse’s hooves regularly. Abscesses can be a horse’s nightmare. If this develops, more than likely your horse will suddenly be impaired on one foot. These are caused by puncture wounds, or by bruising. To solve this, you will need to see a veterinarian, have the abscesses drained and give the horse a tetanus shot. Cracks are important to avoid because they can also lead to infection. The easiest way to avoid cracks is to have a professional trim the hoof.

These are just tips about horse care and a few problems that could occur if you do not understand the importance of a healthy hoof.  Just remember the old saying ‘No foot, no horse.’ A horse is only as strong as the feet it stands on. Without a healthy hoof, a horse could be in trouble.

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