Sunday, July 5, 2009

No Hoof No Horse

A Horse's hooves, to me, can be one of the EASIEST things about horse care if you maintain and stay on top of things, but, for some reason it's the first thing on a horse that often is neglected... Hot weather of the summer can dry out and crack hooves, muddy weather can cause thrush, soft hooves can get abscesses and on and on and on.
Some horses are prone to soft hooves and that's something that an owner needs to be aware of and take extra care in keeping them healthy. SO, here are some tips and products that I go by in order to keep my horse's hooves healthy and NONE of my horse's wear shoes.

  • Stay on top of TRIMS, in the summer hooves grow faster, so a horse that normally goes 8 or 9 weeks in the winter may be at 6 weeks in the summer.

  • Vitamins, my horse's are on Millennium Gold it has more BIOTIN in it, than even Horseshoer's Secret does!!!

  • Pick hooves before and after every ride. Pick hooves at least every other day otherwise. Check for thrush or cracks, pick out the dirt and rocks that also can jammed up there.

  • I condition their hooves at least once or twice a week. I use RainMaker or Hooflex. Both products are wonderful!!!

  • Watch their weight and watch what you feed them. Founder is dangerous!!!

  • Buy a pair of hoof boots if your horse has tender feet and you ride on hard or rocky terrain.

  • Epsom salts, iodine, thrush buster and sugar should be kept at your barn for hoof emergencies.

Be aware of your horse and his hooves. Know that white hooves are softer than dark hooves. Ask a respectable farrier if you have additional concerns about your horses feet. A Horse with No hoof is No horse at all.


Equus said...

All my horses are barefoot as well and I plan on competing them that way as well, even at jumping. I honestly believe it makes for a healthier hoof :)

As for white hooves being less strong than black hooves, I have to disagree based on a lack of scientific evidence to support that theory. Here's one article a propos:

Right now we've got one horse with 4 black feet, one with 4 whites, and 2 with mixed-coloured feet. I've never found white hooves to be any softer. In fact, the mare with the 4 white feet has the hardest feet my farrier has ever seen, thanks to being raised in an environment that encouraged such feet (as well as genetics, of course). Our black-hooved TB on the other hand, had terrible feet when we purchased him. After 10 months of being barefoot, his feet are slowly coming around.

cattypex said...

Heh... my AQHA (with a lot of TB) mare was solid chestnut, but she had striped feet and always had "fever rings" though her health and soundness were fine. (She also showed a lot of sclera, which made her quite expressive.)

But without at least aluminum plates in the front (titanium after my farrier made a lucky find... dang those things lasted FOREVER), she was VERY ouchy in the summer. Barefoot in Winter/Spring? No problem.

I do think that barefoot (like natural childbirth) is the Gold Standard to aspire to, but some horses just need a little extra.

I had a thought the other day, though.

Watching a bunch of Amish folks running around barefoot (they do ALL summer), I noticed that their feet are W I D E.

If you are aiming for Barefoot Nirvana, does a hoof get a little wider on the bottom? I've seen how draft horses' feet flare - or is that genetic?

I'm not as hoof-smart as I used to think I was.

; )

Aylisha said...

I agree with Equus...I am a Barefoot trimmer and there is NOTHING to the myth of white feet. In fact, there have been studies done down to even the molecular level, and no differences were found in white/dark hoof material. If you really look at it, ALL horses have white feet...the dark hooves only have a pigment in the outer layer of hoofwall (rasp deeper into the wall, and you'll see it is white under the dark).
Cattypex: ALL horses can go barefoot...with boots :) No law says you have to be a gravelcrunching TOTALLY bare hoof, esp when working a horse...I do MANY miles in endurance in boots and the horses do great..better than shod horses in fact, as they have MORE protection from boots (and pads inside on really rocky rides)...As to size and flare...most horses do get bigger feet once bare, as the foot is no longer confined in a steel cage. BUT...they should NOT flare ("bell" shape outwards)...if htey are, they are incorrectly being trimmed. I have 10 different drafts on the roster (from BIG BIG Belgians, to smaller Percherons) and they all have nice, "normal", if HUGE, feet :) The drafts do want to flare more easily if not kept up on trimming or on too many carbs/sugar, cause of the extra weight on the feet, but if they are properly fed and trimmed, they should have nice feet too (there ARE a few that have "genetically" weird shaped feet, but that is rarer. Damned showing, like with many breeds, screwed up some of the draft feet too). Also, when thinking of going bare...remember, it takes almost a year to grow a new, healthy foot in GOOD conditions (following proper nutrition, turnout, frequent trims, etc) yes, a horse will often be tender (but should NEVER be "lame"...if so, the trimmer/farrier did too aggressive a trim) at first, but that is where hoofboots come in, so you can still ride while the feet are rehabing...

NewHorseMommy said...

How often should soles shed? My boy appears to be on the third shedding this summer. I did not even know this happened, and called my farrier in a panic the first time (his feet are falling off!). Is frequent shedding a good sign? He is kept barefoot in a dry lot.

We solved a lot of the summer dryness issue by asking the boarding operator to dump the water buckets when refilling, and now there is a nice wet area the horses can stand in when they choose to.

Aylisha said...

Depends on the horse...and the trim...I have a whole set of clients in a city north of me, that had some odd farrier work before me...LONG hoof capsules with massive false soles...I'd trim a bit at a time, sole would shed...trim more, shed more...etc... Most horses do it maybe a few times a year, but without seeing the feet, can't tell you if it is normal for your horse or not...