Hoof Care

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Hoof Care

Schedule regular farrier visits according to your horse's individual needs. Although six to eight weeks is the average, there's really no standard interval for trimming and shoeing. If your farrier is correcting for a problem such as under-run heels, a club foot, or flare in the hoof wall, your horse may benefit from a shorter interval. If everything looks fine but you notice that he begins forging--striking the back of a front hoof with the toe of a back hoof, in the last few days before his next shoeing, ask your farrier whether a shorter schedule might avoid the problem--possibly four to five weeks in the summer, slightly longer in the winter. Since most horses have different hoof issues and growth, a good working relationship with a farrier and veterinarian is needed to ensure a healthy, sound hoof and horse. Many different foot problems can occur in horses. To reduce hoof problems, follow these important recommendations:

Benefits to keeping horse Barefoot

         Improved blood flow which improved horse's overall health.

         Healthy, strong horn (hoof walls).

         Greater shock absorption so fewer concussion related injuries.

         Quicker heart rate recovery time after exercise.

         No more worrying about shoes coming off during a ride/event.

         Lower risk of injuries when playing in the field.

         Improved traction - nature designed the hoof so it can adapt to all terrains.

         Less tripping, stumbling and forging as horse can feel where it's feet are.

However, it is not just simply a case of removing the shoes and happily riding off into the sunset. Most horses need to go through a transition period which allows the hooves to adapt to being barefoot. During that time hoof boots may be needed when riding.

Hoof Trimming Aims

         Encourage a tight laminar connection by dealing with flares to ensure that the coffin bone is held strongly in the top of the hoof capsule.

         The heels are trimmed to allow the frog to function in shock absorption.

         The walls are trimmed so that the sole is also weight bearing.

         The toe callus is encouraged to develop through conditioning to protect the front of the coffin bone.

         Ensure that the bottom edge of the coffin bone is kept at an approx 3 angle to the ground.

         Potential issues with a traditional pasture trim:

         Often in a typical pasture trim the heels are left long which encourages contraction and can lead to navicular pain.

         The toe callus is trimmed away (from the bottom) leaving the tip of the coffin bone unprotected.

         The walls are flat and left higher than the sole so they have to support the entire weight of the horse.

         Flares are often ignored which puts strain on the laminar connection and results in poor suspension of the coffin bone making the horse more susceptible to laminitis.

         Trimming is often carried out on an infrequent basis, so the hooves are often not in an optimum state.

Common Hoof Disorders

         Laminitis

         Navicular

         Forward Foot Syndrome

         Hoof Cracks

         Hoof Abscess