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Hoof Care Essentials For Horses

By Annabelle Cabella

Do you want to know hoof care tips and techniques?

Horses are what you call ungulates. Ungulates are groups of mammals which use the tip of the toes to support their weight when moving. Most of ungulates are hoofed animals- such as horses, donkeys, zebras, camels, giraffes, and deer.

A hoof is the tip of a toe of an ungulate. It is strengthened by keratin, in the form of a thick, hard covering. The sole of the hoof is somewhat hard and rubbery, but softer than the outside. There is also a hard wall formed by the solid nail rolled around the tip of the toe. The whole weight of the horse is carried by the soles of the hooves and also, the edges of its walls.

Horse’s hooves grow but are constantly worn down through continuous moving. The average weight of horses is often more than 1000 lbs and it is only supported by its four hooves. A horse is valued because of its strength and ability to carry humans and objects for pleasure and work purposes. They are prized for their mobile function. Needless to say, a horse with feet problems can be rendered useless.

There are three hoof care tips to consider with hoof care for horses – cleaning, trimming, and shoeing.

Cleaning

In most things we do, hygiene is priority. It is very important to clean the hooves of your horse especially before and after riding. Every horse owner must have the essential tool, the hoof pick. It will be your best friend in horse grooming particularly with the animal’s hooves.

It should be mentioned that even horses that are not at all ridden should still be subjected to hoof pick grooming to prevent thrush. It should be done daily. A horse with wet hooves is very hard to maintain.

Trimming

As earlier mentioned, hooves are continuously growing. Thus, they need trimming to keep them in good shape and to keep the horse in good form. Trimming should be done about every one to two months, depending on the use of the animal and the conditions it’s kept in. Trimming can be difficult and it requires considerably skill. Trained farriers should be the only one to do this task to prevent incorrect trimming.

The most common mistake of the inexperienced is trimming the wall too short. Paring of too much sole is just like cutting your nails too short and can create lameness in the animal in addition to pain. Hoof care must be done by a professional as it is not a good idea to save a few pennies in exchanged for a ruined horse. Have a competent, trained farrier do the job. The expense is certainly worth it.

Shoeing

Can you imagine doing hard manual labor without any footwear?

We use footwear such as shoes because we need protection for our feet. Horses are no different. Even though horses have naturally strong and durable feet, they still need to be shod if they are doing a lot of work.

Some horses may have relatively flat or weak hoofwalls, or simply not fit for hard labor. Such horses need shoes even they are not for functional work purposes. It is better to consult a vet or a farrier about this, as whoever is doing the corrective shoeing must really know their stuff.

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