There is absolutely some truth in the old saying “no hoof, no horse.” Horses’ hooves are always under stress, whether the horse is standing in the stables, out in the pasture, being ridden or in the school. The smallest deformity can have a disastrous impact on the whole of the horse’s skeleton. The correct hoof care isn’t as time consuming as most horse handlers think. One thing is especially important and that is continuity.
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What should you look out for?
Whether a horse is ridden or not, it needs healthy hooves. The first step to keeping them healthy is to pick out the hooves daily in order to remove small stones that might otherwise get pushed into the sole of the hoof. When picking out the hooves possible injuries can be spotted early, the frog of the hoof can be cleaned out and, when necessary, dried off.
If a hoof gets cracked, a quick appointment with a farrier can prevent the worst. Softened hooves can be treated by regularly applying grease and oil. Using grease should be avoided when the hoof is healthy because this will close the pores in the hoof and stop the hoof from absorbing moisture. For horses that stand in urine-soaked hay or squishy mud all day long, greasing the hooves can be advantageous, however, for others, regular use of grease and oil can lead to dry hooves.
Often the frog of the hoof needs special care. Horses that live in stables or paddocks often put strain on the frog and small cracks can become a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to thrush. There are special products for the frog which will make it dry and resistant to bacteria again.