Many people are unfamiliar with the unique needs of horses. Unfortunately, that can lead to disastrous health consequences for a horse in their care. For example, proper hoof care can help you avoid many of the soundness issues that stem from problems with a horse’s feet. Here are the basics of proper hoof care for a healthy horse.
Protection Is Paramount
Most horses don’t want to walk around barefoot all day on gravel, rocks or pavement any more than you do. Stones and sticks can get stuck inside of a hoof’s crevices and lead to irritation, bruising or an abscess. Shoes are just one type of horse hoof protection; boots and wraps are a few other options for those who prefer to let their equine companions go au natural.
Moisture Is the Enemy
Water is another thing that can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy hoof. Just like your own nails will become soft when left in standing water, so will a horse’s hooves. That makes injury more likely. It also encourages fungus growth, which can lead to a potentially serious infection.
Pastures and stall areas should have proper drainage so that your horse can get to dry ground no matter what the weather brings. If you keep them inside for long periods, it is also helpful to change out bedding regularly.
Weight Is a Factor
As if there haven’t been enough comparisons between your horse’s feet and your own, here’s another: excess weight can put undue strain on a horse’s delicate feet. There are a host of problems that can be compounded by an overweight horse, but laminitis is among the most serious.
While you can’t protect your horse from every illness or injury, proper hoof care can set him up on a sound foundation. Keep excess weight off, provide appropriate protections and limit moisture in bedding and pastures to keep hooves healthy.