General Hoof Care Tips
• Pick your horses' hooves out daily
• In dry conditions use a moisturising product on the hooves and soles
• Don't apply foot products the day your farrier is due, as they are more effective if applied after shoeing
• If your horse is foot sore on after loosing a shoe, call your farrier
• Use over reach boots: in muddy conditions (but make sure you clean throughly), when jumping or if your horse is likely to over reach
• If adding supplements to feeds to improve hoof quality then choose one with Biotin
• Keep your appointments with your farrier regular to between 5-8 weeks
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Are a 'hoof' & the 'foot' the same thing?
The foot refers to the hoof and all its internal structures including bones and sensitive structures. Hoof is only the hard outside covering of the foot including the wall, the sole and the frog. The hoof has no blood supply or nerves. Inside the hoof are the sensitive structures which produce and nourish the hoof and attach it to the bones of the foot.
What care do I need to provide for my horse's feet?
A hoofpick is one of the most important tools in a grooming kit. Make sure to clean out your horse’s hooves before and after riding. Whether ridden or not, horses kept in stables or confined areas should have their hooves picked out daily to prevent infections. Horses out at grass should have their feet cleaned periodically.
Like our nails, horse’s hooves grow continuously. They need to be trimmed every six to eight weeks to keep them in the correct shape and condition. Trimming is a job for a trained farrier. An inexperienced person can easily trim the hoof wall too short or pare away too much sole, which can cause the horse considerable discomfort. More importantly, the hoof must be balanced precisely to the horse’s natural way of going or he will end up going lame. The skill required to keep a hoof properly balanced takes a lot of training and practice to develop. In the long run, it’s wiser to pay for a good farrier than risk damaging your horse.
Horses who are in a lot of work or working on hard ground will need to be shod. Some horses with weak hoof walls, flat soles or other problems might need shoes even if they’re not in work. Consult your farrier or vet for advice.
Shoes need to be reset approximately every six to eight weeks. Leaving them on too long can damage the hoof. If a shoe comes loose without coming off completely, it can also injure the horse. (Never pull off a loose shoe without cutting the clinches on the nails first.)
Are there any foot problems I should watch out for?
Most problems can be avoided with proper care. Keep your horse on clean, dry footing. Feed him properly. Pick out his feet on a regular basis. Have his hooves trimmed or shod regularly by a competent farrier. Protect his feet with properly fitted shoes and pads if necessary.
Thrush & Canker
Thrush, is the more common of the two, it is an infection of the frog. Canker (hoof rot) is an infection of the whole foot. You’ll recognize both from a foul odour and discharge from the disintegrating frog. Both are caused by keeping a horse in wet, dirty conditions. If you find that your horse is just starting a thrush infection, you can treat it with brush-on medications available in tack stores. For more advanced cases, consult your veterinarian or farrier.
Corns & Bruised Sole
Corns are caused by constant, small repeated pressures to a part of the foot. Common causes are a poor shoeing job or shoes that are left on too long.
Bruises are caused by a single, traumatic blow to the foot, such as stepping on a stone. Bruising is more likely to happen if the horse has naturally flat soles, or if the sole and frog have been pared too thin in trimming.
If the bruise or corn has not abscessed, removing the cause of the problem is usually all the treatment required. If your horse bruises easily, he may need protective shoes and pads.
If your horse suddenly goes dead lame on one foot, an abscess is a probable cause. It could be caused by a puncture wound or by a corn or bruise. Your are advised to contact your vet for further advice who in the case of an abcess will drain the abscess, dress and prescribe follow-up treatment.
Cracks in the hoof wall can start at the bottom and go up or at the top and go down. The seriousness of a crack depends on how deep it goes and where it is located. If the crack is deep enough that it bleeds after the horse has exercised, infection is possible.
Cracks that start at the top of the foot are likely due to disturbances in hoof growth resulting from coronet injuries such as wirecuts. Cracks that start at the bottom of the foot can be caused by dry or thin hoof walls or improper trimming. Serious cracks may require corrective shoeing.
Seedy toe is a separation of the hoof wall from the white line in the toe region causing a hole between the hoof wall and the sensitive laminae. The outside of the hoof wall looks sound, but the inside becomes crumbly.
Poor foot care is the most common cause. Seedy toe is easily caused when the hoof wall is allowed to grow too long. It also commonly occurs with chronic laminitis.
Laminitis or Founder
Laminitis, commonly called founder, is an acutely painful inflammation of the foot. It occurs most often in the front feet although it can affect the hind feet as well. A common cause is overeating.
If your horse is lame on and off with no apparent cause, your vet may suspect navicular disease. The pain is caused by degeneration of the navicular bone, a small bone inside the foot, and the tendon which passes over it.
Please note this advice and information listed above is not designed to replace/superceed information provided by your qualified veterinarian. The advice/information on this page is provided in a guidance capacilty only, and should not be used in any other manner. If in doubt over any ailment/condition displayed by your horse, please consult your veterinarian.
The infomation provided on this page is believed to be correct at time of writing (March 2012). Should guidelines or new information come to light please ensure you use the latest infomation to treat any conditions.
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