Taking care of your horse’s hooves, whilst not the easiest part of owning a horse, is vital to making sure your horse remains happy and healthy. Unhealthy hooves can not only lead to short term problems that can affect your riding plans, but could also lead to long term damage resulting in a horse that can no longer be ridden. A few easy steps added to your daily routine will go a long way to ensuring that your horse’s hooves are strong and healthy.
Farrier fundamentals. I’m sure you all know the importance of engaging a farrier, but take the time to consider the intervals between farrier visits. If your farrier is correcting a current problem, then consider shortening the length of time between visits. Also consider how often you’re riding, the overall condition of the hooves and the seasons. Becoming friendly with your farrier has its benefits too. Watch them as they work and ask questions...know what’s normal and what isn’t. You never know, they may even show you how to remove a sprung or shifted shoe which can be useful in case of an emergency!
Be picky when picking. Taking the time to regularly pick out your horse’s feet can prevent a lot of issues from occurring in the first place, and will help you to become familiar with what is normal for your horse. Before riding, after riding, and before and after turnout are perfect times to pick your horse’s feet. Take time to inspect not only the hoof, but also the rest of the lower legs. Look out for stones and other small objects that can become stuck, as well as punctures from sharp objects. You should also make note of any abnormal warmth, cracks, abscess’ or ooze you find present. Infections such as mud fever and thrush can be managed with an anti-bacterial preparation such as Equinade Hoof Salve. Simply paint on the affected area of the hoof or skin to treat and help with the healing process. If you find anything abnormal, you should speak to a vet for advice.
Caring from the inside out. Just like human nails, the strength of hooves can be improved with a healthy diet. A high quality feed will have your horse feeling his best both inside and out, but if you’re looking for a natural alternative to supplement your horse’s feed and improve their hoof condition, then consider adding flax seed oil (also known as Linseed Oil). Not only will your horse’s coat benefit (so shiny!), but so will their skin and hooves. A high quality linseed oil such as Equinade Pure Raw Linseed Oil is 100% pure and cold pressed to maximise the preservation of nutrients and enzymes.
Happy hooves in the Australian climate. Australia is known for its extreme weather. Your horse may be exposed to hot, dry weather, or if you’re from somewhere like Melbourne, you can see four seasons in one day. Regardless of where you’re from, it is highly likely that your horse’s hooves are troubled by the extreme weather. Too much dry heat, or too much moisture can leave hooves cracked, brittle and susceptible to disease. Treating daily (or twice a day if damaged) with a hoof oil will help to lubricate and maintain a healthy moisture balance in all conditions. Containing 100% natural ingredients, both Equinade Hoof Grease and Equinade Hoof Lube contain a measured dose of Stockholm Tar which is a natural antiseptic to aid in the control of disease.
Taking care of your horses hooves will ensure that they are healthy and strong. Remember these hooves will be carrying not only your horse, but also you, throughout your riding career. A bit of extra care and attention each day will go a long way!