Help your horse's hooves

A good farriery routine

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Depending on the breed of your horse and the type of work you do together, he may need re-shoeing anywhere between four and 10 weeks apart. For example, native breeds in light work tend to go longer between farrier visits, compared to a Thoroughbred who does a lot of roadwork. 

Your horse's hooves grow faster in the spring and autumn, at the same time he sheds his winter and summer coats to prepare for the next season. During winter and summer the hoof growth rate slows down, meaning that shoeing may not need to be done as regularly. It's best to get your farrier's advice, as every horse is different and he'll be able to tell you what's best for your horse's health. 

3 signs of a well-shod foot

1 When your horse is stood square and on level ground, look at his front feet. Both hooves should look as though they're the same length, and the coronary bands should be parallel to the floor. Then look at the back feet for the same signs.

2 Pick up each foot and examine the shoe. It should be smooth with no kinks or bumps, and nicely rounded towards the front, Pointed shoes are never a good sign and will impact on your horse's break-over movement.

3 Look at your horse's heels on his fore feet. Every horse is different, but as a general rule if his heels are are upright, his shoes will need to stick out less at the back as he won't need as much support as a horse with an under-run heel. However, heel support on the back feet tends to be different, as this is where the horse gets his speed and power from. To help with this, your farrier may leave more shoe sticking out the back of the foot to better support the heel, in turn helping him with his movement. 

Signs that your horse needs a visit from the farrier

Keep a daily look out for any of the following, which will indicate your horse needs new shoes:

  • The clenches have risen away from the hoof wall
  • The hoof has visibly overgrown the shoe at the front or sides
  • The shoe has become worn and thin, providing your horse with no grip on smoother surfaces
  • The shoe is twisted or has become loose

Easy ways to help you horse's hooves

The most important thing you can do for your horse's hooves is have him shod on a regular basis. In addition to this, a good, balanced diet will help horn growth.

Supplements can help give your horse the vitamins and minerals he needs. This can be especially important if he has limited turnout and may be lacking the natural, hoof-friendly vitamins and minerals found in grass.

Ensure you regularly check and wash your horse's frogs with salt to help prevent infection, and make the effort to apply hoof dressing a couple of times a week. This will help to keep the hoof wall in good condition and protect it from the elements.

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