Working Towards Stronger Hooves
Any horse owner knows how important it is to keep their horses’ hooves strong and healthy, but this is not always easily done. Some horses are just easier keepers than others when it comes to hoof health. However, the easiest way to help maintain good hoof health is to be proactive. This is actually quite easily obtained in most cases by following a few keys steps.
One of the most important ways to help maintain good hoof health is to make sure that your horse is getting a well balanced diet. This is especially true because it is hard for a horse to grow healthy hooves when the needed minerals and nutrients are not available. You may even be familiar with this concept with your own finger nails, the better you eat the better your nails become. Most horses can get the necessary nutrients from quality pasturing or hay. However, it is also recommended to provide them with an additional mineral supplement, such as a mineral block, that they can utilize at their own choosing. It also is a good idea to choose supplement that contains Biotin, which studies have shown supports the production of Keratin that is the structural basis for hooves.
It is also beneficial to exercise your horse regularly as this will also promote hoof health. This is the case because exercise will improve the blood flow to the hoof area. Don’t think you don’t have enough time to exercise your horses, just turn them out into the pasture for a couple hours a day. A pastured horse will walk around enough on their own looking for the best forages available. Of course, you can always go riding to give your horse exercise. If you are afraid about to ride your horse because of poor hoof condition I suggest calling your farrier for a consultation.
The most important step to take to ensure good hoof health is to check your horse’s hooves regularly. If you don’t know what is normal, then you won’t be able to notice when there is a problem. Remember to look at all of the parts of the hoof including the hoof wall, sole, frog, and coronary band. A healthy hoof wall will protect the inner parts of the hoof while the sole protects the bottom of the foot. The frog will provide traction and acts partially as a shock absorber as it will have a similar feel as a rubber eraser. The coronary band is the most important part of the hoof as it is where the hoof wall grows from. At times it can be difficult to track any changes that you may see so my farrier suggested taking pictures daily if you suspect any changes. That way when you call the farrier out they have a better sense of what you are trying to describe. Plus, in some areas you may live a decent distance from the farrier so inquire about sending images via email for consultation. That way you may save your farrier precious time, which most likely will save you money as well.