Every horse requires certain things to maintain and assist in the regular growth and day-to-day maintenance of its hooves. Hoof care and maintenance are the responsibility of the horse owner. This includes making sure regularly scheduled farrier visits are kept up on, horses are properly trained to stand mannerly for the farrier, necessary dietary supplements and hoof quality enhancers and conditioners are used for the horse when needed, and hooves are properly picked out and checked for healthy function.
The following are hoof care issues of a more general nature, examined in further detail:
Horse Hoof Oils and Conditioners
The use of hoof oils and hoof conditioners is a common practice to help in the creation of healthy well-functioning horse hoof growth. There are two main reasons to use a horse hoof conditioner – to harden or to soften a horse’s hoof. The consistency of a horse’s hoof is determined by living and weather conditions as well as dietary concerns. A horse’s hoof is dependent on natural moisture occurring in its day-to-day life. This will determine the pliability of a horse’s hoof to a great extent. In extremely dry climates it will be important to add oils to help keep the horse’s hoof from drying up and becoming brittle. If allowed to dry out, a horse’s hooves are more prone to cracking and chipping out. When applying oils to a horse’s hoof, it is often recommended to only apply it to the area just below the coronet band. This will allow any natural moistures to be absorbed as well. The opposite end of the spectrum is a very moist, wet environment. This can provide its own set of problems when dealing with a horse’s hooves. The weakening of a horse’s hoof structure when living in damp environments should be considered and dealt with accordingly. There are hoof conditioners that are used to harden a horse’s hoof in times of extra dampness. Thrush, rotting of the hoof, will be found more often in this environment due to the bacterial breeding ground a moist environment creates. It is quite common to use a thrush treatment formula when hardening up a horse’s hooves as it provides a double-edged sword for treating extra moisture, as well as clearing up any bacterial infections. When applying a hardener, it is common practice to apply it directly to the bottom of the hoof.
Horse Hoof Supplements
Horse Hoof supplements speed the creation of quality hoof growth. Studies have determined the benefits of supplementing certain vitamins and minerals in horses. The reason for using hoof supplements is usually related to the lack of certain vitamins and minerals in a horse’s everyday diet as well as physical limitations of the specific horse.Biotin is considered to be one of the main beneficial components to a horses hoof growth. Biotin is a B-vitamin that is water-soluble: meaning it is not stored in the body, but actually passes through and out on a very fast cycle. Thus, biotin levels must be maintained in a horse’s everyday diet. Thankfully biotin is found in many things such as the grasses and grains a horse eats, supplementation is based on a horses individual situation. Biotin can be supplemented directly or it may be added in the form of a more complete supplement solution such as commercially available hoof supplements like “Farrier’s Formula” or “Hoof Power”.Signs of weakness in the horses hoof will determine the need to supplement. A few common signs are:
- vertical hairline cracks in the outer hoof wall
- constant chipping out
- need for extra protection
There are many other signs that a horse will exhibit that may be assessed by a professional such as a farrier or horse veterinarian.