The Importance of Looking After Your Horse's Feet

"No foot, No horse! A very old saying but no truer words have been said, when we consider our four legged friends.

The domesticated horse lives a very different life from that of the wild animal with freedom to roam. Hoofcare for the wild horse was taken care of by their daily movement over a varied terrain. They would travel constantly whereas our treasured subjects spend much time confined relative to the wild freedom of the roaming herd.

Hooves grow continually rather in the same way as human nails, so under the domestic conditions become uneven or overgrown without correct care. Failure to provide this constantly needed care can lead to avoidable and unnecessary problems causing pain and discomfort and lameness to the horse.

The daily care of the feet is of course the loving owner's responsibility. The hoof should be cleaned out on a daily basis to remove all mud stones and debris which inevitably collects, in order to ensure that there are no sharp contents wedged there to cause damage to the sole of the foot. The foot should be left clean so as to avoid any bacterial infection developing. A good quality hoof conditioner may be applied to promote healthy horn growth.

The growth of the hoof is continual at a rate of about a quarter of an inch a month and therefore trimming should be carried out every six weeks to maintain the correct position of the foot. This is equally important for the unshod horse.

The farrier will remove shoes, check the foot, trim the hoof and replace the shoes. Lameness will inevitably result from a lack of this procedure, shoeing does not stop the foot growing. Occasionally it may be suitable for a horse to remain unshod but vigilance is needed to ensure that cracks and chips don t develop, which can result in long recovery periods while the damage grows out.

A variety of shoe types are available for you horse, the best choice will depend on the type of work your horse will be doing and the farrier is the best person to give advice on this. It is most important to ensure a good foot position, which can help in maintaining spinal health by providing correct balance in the working horse.

So remember! No foot, no horse and no fun!"

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