No hoof, no horse. We have all heard that saying and it is especially true. Your horse’s hooves play a huge role in circulation of blood throughout the body. The hooves also act as a shock absorber and cushion as the horse walks. A good quality hoof begins with a good quality hay and feed program. Proper nutrition ensures your horse has what it needs to grow a great hoof. It is also essential to have your horse on a regular hoof trimming/ shoeing schedule with a reputable farrier.

Let’s talk about the tools to have on hand for basic hoof care.

  1. Hoof Pick with Brush
    It is essential to pick your horses feet often and every time you ride. It removes rocks, dirt and debris that become trapped around the frog. You can identify wounds, thrush or other issues and prevent lameness. The brush can help you quickly remove dirt and mud.
  2. Horseshoe Pulling Tools (If your horse has shoes)
    If your horses are anything like mine, they can twist shoes and pull out nails just being out in the pasture. Learn how to effectively pull shoes if you don’t have quick access to your farrier. You will need: a shoe puller/ pincer, a crease nail puller, clinch cutter and a mallet.
  3. Thrush Treatment
    With Georgia weather during wet and humid seasons, thrush is inevitable with horses turned out in the pasture. Cracks and splits create the perfect habitat for thrush bacterial infections in the hoof. Every hoof care box should have an anti-thrush product.
  4. Abscess Kit
    Every horse owner will encounter an abscess at one point or another. By being prepared up front, you can ensure your horse gets on the road to recovery quickly after consulting with your vet. Your kit should include: Epsom salts and soaking bucket, easy-to-apply poultices such as Animalintex, vet wrap, duct tape, gauze pads or size 2 diapers, and scissors.
  5. Hoof Supplements
    Research shows that poor-quality hooves can benefit from commercially available hoof supplements that contain: Biotin (20mg/day), Iodine (1mg/day), Methionine (2500mg/day), and Zinc (175-250mg/day).
  6. Hoof Dressings
    Some horse owners swear by these, but research fails to support the claims of most topical hoof dressings. Climate largely effects the horse’s hooves. Their hooves are very much like human fingernails and moisture makes them weak. Hooves can become softer and more brittle in the winter. Make sure your horse has a dry place to stand like a run-in or open stall.

By keeping your best hoof forward and staying on top of hoof care, you can prevent lameness and have a healthier horse. For more information about the equine hoof, watch the archive of the 2021 Elevated Equine series about the equine hoof from Dr. Jarrod Younkin of Piedmont Equine Associates. The archives can be found at the Newton Extension ANR Blog.

Ashley Best, Newton County Extension Coordinator & Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent