How many of you clean your horse’s hooves every day?
Daily cleaning of hooves is necessary because equines collect so much dirt and objects in their feet which can cause serious problems if not prevented.
1. Removing random objects
Horses can pick up the darndest things just walking around. They are magnets for debris—the more danger it presents, the stronger the attraction. It’s our job as owners to remove these things before they cause problems.
Obviously, keeping their living areas free from stuff is ideal, but a horse can find that needle in a haystack, and then use it to create a vet bill. Things farriers have actually found in hooves:
- Construction nails
- Shards of PVC pipe
- Metal, of all shapes and sizes
- Horseshoe nails (oops)
- Pieces of trees
- Mattress springs
- Cactus spines
- Miscellaneous trash
If you find something that’s just wedged in there, do your best to pry it out. If it appears to be actually embedded in or has punctured the hoof, your best bet is to call your vet or farrier for some guidance. Your horse may need antibiotics and a tetanus shot if it did puncture the sensitive layers of the hoof.
2. Detecting infections
It’s way easier to get thrush, or seedy toe, or any number of other hoof maladies under control if they’re caught early in the process. Cleaning those hooves out lets you find the problem and treat it before it becomes an expensive, frog-eroding disaster.
3. Finding problems
A loose nail in your horse’s shoe can let the shoe shift and cause a bruise—or worse injury. Same for a sprung (bent) shoe heel, or a significant chip in the hoof wall. Remember, the entire weight of the horse is standing on those hooves all day, every day. That’s a lot of weight to support on healthy hooves—any damage can quickly be magnified.
Your horse needs to learn to pick up his feet willingly and have his hooves and legs handled without moving or fighting. This will endear you to your farrier and veterinarian, and it could actually save your horse’s life. If he ever has an injury (and the word “horse” means “injury” in some languages), the ability to treat and care for the area appropriately could mean the difference between a successful recovery and a disaster.
Picking your horse’s hooves routinely is also just some good bonding time. You get used to what his hooves and legs look like normally, so you can spot changes right away. You can judge his mood before you climb aboard.
Give it a try! Make picking feet part of your regular grooming routine (if it isn’t already, you overachiever). Your horse, farrier, vet, and wallet will thank you for it!
Adapted from horsenetwork.com