Caring For Your Horse's Hooves Between Visits to the Farrier

The health of a horse's feet is imperative. Unfortunately, it's often the most neglected part of a horse's routine care. While regular visits to the farrier are necessary when it comes to hoof care, caregivers and owners can handle some of the maintenance themselves. However, it is imperative that caregivers and horse owners realize that they simply cannot do it all alone; the help of a professional is necessary. Even the most minor mishap in hoof horse trimming can result in injury to your horse.

While a farrier's role is to handle the primary horse hoof trimming, it is important for horse caregivers and owners to do a daily check to ensure that everything is in healthy working order. The first order of daily business is to check the horse's clenches to ensure none have risen, which is an issue that can be handled accordingly and quickly with a few gentle taps of a hammer or an elastoplast cover. The shoe must be checked to ensure it still fits properly without issue and finally, caregivers and owners must check for cracks. It is most common for cracks to appear around the holes where nails are inserted into the shoe. Owners and caregivers must check for these symptoms while picking the horse's hooves each day to remove debris. Note that when it comes to hoof care, a hoof pick is required and the action needs to be from the heel to the toe.

Horses are not immune to disease as it applies to their living conditions. Horses, particularly those kept in stalls, don't have any worry about infection when their stall is kept clean. Infection is commonly caused by organisms that cause bacterial diseases such as thrush. When this bacteria makes it into a horses frog, infection occurs causing horses a great deal of pain and requiring painful treatments, an unpleasant smell and the horse's hooves to become soft. Lameness is a side effect of this bacterial disease. To prevent this, the area in which a horse is housed should be cleaned regularly to ensure quality horse hoof care.

Other everyday horse hoof care includes keeping a horse's feet moisturized. While natural moisture is best, caregivers and owners must be in tune with the weather. Unpleasant weather that produces a great deal of rain, which produces a great deal of mud, is dangerous to horses. Too much moisture of this type causes a horse's hooves to become dry and brittle. Specialty lotion for horses that contains lanolin is recommended for regular care. This needs to be applied to a horse's foot regularly.

While it is not necessary to employ horse hoof trimming as often as it is to clean them, it must be done. Proper horse hoof trimming is necessary for a horse to maintain good health. This should be something caregivers and owners do once every month. Additionally, it is something that should not be done without the help of a farrier; most farriers recommend that horse owners and caregivers do not perform this procedure on their own. Unfortunately, even the slightest mistake in trimming can cause irreparable damage to a horse, including lameness.

Every horse owner and caregiver must create and maintain a good working relationship with their farrier. Since horses need such intricate and intimate professional care, a good working relationship only benefits a horse's lifestyle and health. Since caregivers and/or owners see their farrier at least once per month for a trimming, a satisfactory relationship is necessary. One of the most important reasons for a good working relationship with a farrier is that every horse is different.

While most horses require trimming every four weeks or so, farriers have different opinions as to the exact timeline for this necessity. Factors such as the weather, the location of a horse's home, a horse's lifestyle and workload and even the time of year can affect the frequency in which any given horse will require a trim. Because trims are so delicate that even the slightest mistake can cause injury, working with a farrier means horse owners and caregivers can further protect horses and their health.

Foot care is one of the most important aspects of horse care. Simply because owners and caregivers are not farriers does not mean that they haven't a responsibility of their own when it comes to basic foot care and management. There are requirements for foot care that must be met on a daily basis to prevent unspeakable injury to a horse's foot and ability to work or live without pain. Owners and caregivers should leave the important stuff to their farrier, but the everyday care is something they must become accustomed to providing.
 
Written by Sharon Rogers
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