There is a very old expression in horse care that goes, “No hoof, no horse” and it couldn’t possibly be more true. Horses are very large, heavy animals that stand on what amounts to a tiny foot in comparison to the rest of them.
While hooves seem durable and able to withstand anything, they are actually very susceptible to injury and must be maintained properly to keep your horse healthy. Improper shoeing of your horse, a bad angle of the hoof, or wet conditions could all lead to issues for your horse. His diet can also contribute to poor hoof health. Let’s discuss some mistakes that many make.
Not having a farrier come frequently is a big mistake. Many people try to save money and cut the number of times they have the farrier come and take care of their horse’s hooves. This is a huge mistake that can not only lead to costing you more money, but it can also impact your horse’s hoof health for the rest of his life. Some horses with severe issues may founder and be euthanized because they can no longer stand if their issues become so severe that there is no way back for them.
Neglect. Many people simply don’t check their horse’s hooves daily and that is a big no-no. His hooves can become soft and spongey from being filled with muck that should be picked out of them daily. This can lead to infections such as thrush.
Impacted mud, along with rocks and debris can cause bruising that causes him pain and injury to the frog as well as cause infections and abscesses that lead to really nasty issues. If you notice a black, tar-like substance in his hooves, apply a thrush ointment.
Turning horses out into wet pastures that are not properly draining will result in horse footrot, cracking hooves, damp and moist hooves that are prone to spreading, falling apart and leaving him bruised and damaged. Take real care to ensure that there is dry ground where you are turning your horse out, or bring him in and stall him until the ground drains better. He may get a little ready to go romp, but you’re better off keeping him dry and allowing that ground to dry or finding him a different pasture to be turned-out into.
Trying to do hoof care yourself is a big mistake. Farriers take years to learn their practice. It takes a very keen eye to maintain the proper levels and angles of the hoof. Trimming a hoof with a bad angle can cause damage to the lower hocks and bones inside of the hooves. Again, these things can lead to a lame horse and we’re right back to ‘no hoof, no horse’ so please, hire a professional to do the job and your horse will thank you.
Don’t try to outthink your veterinarian and your farrier. When your horse is fine and everything is working perfectly, don’t suddenly decide that your horse doesn’t need shoes in pasture and pull them off on your own. Making decisions like this without the base of knowledge that you need to have is a huge mistake. It’s very likely that your horse will be lame in a few months and your farrier will be upset with you when you call him back. Don’t try to make yourself responsible for the expert work of shoes and farrier trimming. That’s what they are there for.
Not working with young horses so that they learn to stand for hoof care is a huge mistake. Not only will your farrier be aggravated with you, but it will also be more expensive for you if he has an especially difficult time shoeing that horse each time. You should have the baby’s hooves looked at each time the farrier comes for the other horse’s hoof care. This will set a good example of training him and he will always have balanced hooves at the perfect angle as he is growing. What could possibly be better? Laying foundation work for horses is a big deal when they are young enough to still be fairly easy to handle. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring their hooves early on.
There you have several potential mistakes that are often made when it comes to the hoof care of horses. Don’t be like these people. Take the lead and make smart decisions. Don’t cut corners and try to do things that you’re not qualified to do and your horse will always have great hooves that never give him a day of trouble.