If you don’t take care of the hoof, then POOF, no horse! Keeping your horse’s hooves healthy and strong is imperative to his/her health; therefore it’s important to understand the proper care and maintenance. Here are some of my pet peeves when it comes to my horses hooves.
Now, I know what most of you are thinking, feet?! That’s what my farrier’s for… false. You should always pick your horses feet before and after you ride or bring them in from turn out. It’s vital in case any debris or foreign objects have lodged themselves in the hoof. Picking feet daily also helps keep you alert as to what’s “normal” and what could be of potential concern.
Common ailments to look for while picking your horses feet include (but are not limited to) cracks, thrush, puncture wounds, and abscesses. Thrush, a hoof condition caused by muddy or predominantly wet environments, usually manifests itself through a foul smell or dark ooze. If caught in the early stages it is fairly easy to treat with little consequence but if left unattended it can easily lead to lameness. Cracks can either be superficial surface cracks or very serious. Sometimes cracks are caused by an abscess and the best course of action is to contact your farrier to assess the crack and advise what treatment should be utilized. Puncture wounds that occur will most likely be invisible to the naked eye unless the object, such as a nail, for example, gets stuck. If left untreated puncture wounds can lead to an abscess. An abscess can best be described as a localized bacterial infection which often causes inflammation and lameness. While cleaning the hoof be sensitive to pulse and temperature since stronger digital pulse and heat are common signs of an abscess inside the hoof.
Make sure you have a farrier you know and trust so you can schedule routine appointments for your horse to get shod or trimmed. Don’t be afraid to call them with questions if the occasion arises. They are professionals and can help us with any uncertainties we may have and let’s face it, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. While these are all pretty simplistic and routine procedures they are vital to keep our horses healthy, and a healthy horse is a happy horse.
So my confession you ask? Pedicures are NOT just for people.
May there always be a (healthy) hoof print next to your foot print,