At Ross Dhu Equestrian Ltd, www.scottishhorsehelp.co.uk we have over 40 years of experience of looking after horses safely and correctly and would be delighted to help you and your horse with all the many important learning curves, with many of our customers telling us how they have learnt new skills, achieved personal growth and have a better bond with their horse.
Here are our top tips for looking after your horses’ hooves;
- Pick out your horse’s feet. This may sound pretty basic, but it’s the single most important thing you can do for his hooves, this is your responsibility. Your horse gets a head start on healthy hooves, and you get a chance to take early action on many common hoof problems, if you pick out his feet. This should be done….
- Before each ride, to remove any stones or small objects lodged in his feet before you add your weight to the situation, and to check on the condition of his shoes.
- After you untack him, in case something has gotten stuck in his feet during the ride, make sure you have a good look and clean.
- When you bring him in at night, check for objects in his feet, or for turnout injuries.
- Before turnout the next morning, to check for heat and pulse, remove manure, and check for signs of thrush.
- While handling your horse’s feet to pick them out, notice their temperature; when everything’s OK, they’ll feel very slightly warm and take some time to locate the digital pulse with two fingers pressed against the back of his pastern; you’re interested not in the rate of the pulse, but in its strength under normal conditions. Check the frog, which has about the texture and firmness of a new rubber eraser when it’s healthy. Don’t be alarmed, though, if everything else looks OK but the frog appears to be peeling off, most horses shed the frog at least twice a year, sometimes more often.
- Check for signs of some of the more common hoof problems, including;
- Thrush – the first clue to this bacterial condition is a foul smell and dark ooze from the cleft of the frog. Later, the frog becomes cheesy in texture. Thrush can become serious and eventually cause lameness and significant hoof damage. However, catch it early and it is simple to treat with medication. It can be caused by prolonged standing in manure, mud, or other wet conditions, so consider more absorbent shavings and to clean his hooves.
- A puncture – a small object such as a nail can pierce your horse’s sole and then fall out. This could mean that the entry wound will probably be invisible by the time you pick his feet and you’ll be unaware of it until it causes an abscess. However, the object may remain in place, to be discovered when you brush the last bits of dirt from the sole. DON’T PULL IT OUT. Carefully put your horse inside, and protect the damaged foot to get the object in place i.e. wrap it up, tape it and call your veterinarian right away.
- Cracks – some are superficial, others can worsen, involving sensitive hoof structures, without appropriate shoeing. If you notice a crack in your horse’s hoof, call for assistance to determine whether it needs attention now or can wait until the next regular shoeing.
- Abscess – if your horse’s digital pulse feels stronger than usual and/or is foot is warmer than normal to the touch, the cause could be an abscess inside the hoof from a badly placed shoeing nail, a bruise, or an overlooked sole puncture. Call your veterinary for advice.
- Laminitis – if you find increased heat and a stronger-than-usual digital pulse in both front feet, and if he’s shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, call your veterinarian immediately. These are signs of laminitis, an inflammatory condition that can cause severe hoof damage–and, if not treated promptly, can even be fatal.
Ultimately you can save your horse and you a lot of pain and heartache, by checking his hooves several times a day and being aware of his normal feet conditions.
For more information please feel free to call Morag on 01698 886 492 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org