If you’ve ever had a pebble become lodged in your shoe, you are aware of how fast it can make walking unpleasant. But consider if the soles of your shoes were made of pebbles, twigs, nails, and dirt.
Your horse will experience this if their hooves are not cleaned on a regular basis.
Many horse owners think the farrier is in charge of caring for their horse’s hooves. However, if weeks or even months go by between farrier appointments, you permit a variety of debris to accumulate inside the hooves. In the worst situations, this can result in pain, infection, and lameness.
It is your responsibility as a horse owner to guarantee that your animal has sound hoof structure. Follow our detailed instructions to discover how to include horse hoof cleaning into your daily routine in order to preserve the general health and wellbeing of your horse.
Cleaning horses’ hooves that are muddy
If you need to remove mud off the outside of your horse’s feet, tie him up in a safe location and start by brushing the dirt off the hoof wall using a stiff brush. Warm water is more comfortable, more efficient, and takes less time to soften filth than cold water, especially in the cooler months.
Squatting will enable you to move swiftly out of your horse’s path if they decide to move, so be sure to keep an eye on them at all times and avoid kneeling on the ground or placing your hand there while you are cleaning their hooves.
To assist prevent the hooves from drying out and cracking, if they are moist, let them naturally dry or wipe them with a towel before applying a hoof conditioner. The condition of the hooves might be compromised by repeatedly soaking and drying them.
How to Clean a Horse’s Hooves : Step-by-Step
Hoof care for your horse might seem frightening. But with our detailed instructions, you can ensure that the procedure is quick and painless for both you and your equine companion.
Secure Your Horse So They Don’t Walk Away
Prior to cleaning your horse’s hooves, make sure they are securely restrained so they won’t bolt while you are working on them. You can accomplish this by tying them up or by having someone else hold them. By doing this, you’ll be able to control the horse’s movement and work on the horse’s feet in a more secure manner.
My horse is tied to the ground, so I can just drop the rope with him and he won’t move. If you don’t have a place to tether your horse, you can choose out the rope by holding it in your hand that is furthest from the horse’s foot.
Tie your horse to a break-away strap if you are concerned that they could pull away while you are cleaning their feet. (A piece of baling twine wrapped around a fence post can serve as this.)
It will be safer for you even though your horse will be able to go off if they pull back. If the breakaway strap fails, the horse won’t jump forward where you could be in the way; instead, it will keep moving backward.
Correctly Position Yourself to Pick Up the Horse’s Hoof
When cleaning your horse’s feet, you should never stand directly in front of or behind them. Standing close to your horse’s front shoulder with your back to them will keep you safe.
Your safety should always come first while engaging in any activity with horses. You may avoid unintentionally getting stomped on or kicked by your horse by placing yourself adjacent to it so that you can see its feet.
Next to the horse’s leg you want to lift up, take a perpendicular position. This indicates that your side should be up near to your horse’s leg, either in the front or the rear. You are beside the horse in this posture so that you are not immediately in front of or behind the leg you are working on.
Face the horse from where you are standing next to it. Your horse will bend its leg so that you can plainly view the hoof when you take up the animal’s hoof.
Run Your Hand Down the Back of the Horse’s Leg
You don’t want to unexpectedly touch your horse’s lower leg when picking out their hooves and cause them to panic or become agitated. This is especially true if you’re working with an untried or inexperienced horse.
Running your hand down the back of the horse’s leg from the elbow to the fetlock might assist your horse recognize your presence and anticipate what you are about to ask.
Additionally, it’s a terrific method to inspect your horse’s leg for swelling or other ailments. Examining your horse’s legs and hooves for damage or anything out of the norm is a benefit of cleaning your horse’s hooves. Whenever you are working with your horse, keep this in mind.
Lift The Foot
Encourage your horse to raise its foot. There are a number of ways you might communicate this motion if your horse is unable to elevate their foot voluntarily. Put a hand on your horse’s back to begin. Once you’ve reached your horse’s foot, proceed to carefully run your hand down its leg.
To indicate to your horse to elevate its hoof, softly pull the back of the cannon region or compress the fetlock. To hold your horse’s foot and let your stronger, dominant hand to clean it, use your non-dominant hand.
Properly Hold the Horse’s Hoof While Picking it Out
Once your horse picks up its foot, you should take care to hold it securely so that you may both stay safe and wipe the hoof as thoroughly as possible.
In order to make cleaning out the hoof easier for your strong hand, you should grasp the hoof in that hand. Therefore, if you are right-handed, use your left hand to grip the hoof.
It’s crucial that you stay next to the horse while facing behind it, regardless of which hand you’re using to grab its foot. Verify that you are not positioned so that the horse may lift its knee and unintentionally strike you. Additionally, make sure that none of your toes would be impacted by the horse’s hoof if it were to fall!
Another thing to keep in mind is that when cleaning your horse’s feet, you should remain upright and bowed at the waist.
You can still get out of the path if something happens while you’re in this posture. On the other hand, if you’re crouching or sitting on the ground close to your horse, you face the risk of being ran over or stepped on.
Apply a Preventative Hoof Treatment
Applying a foot treatment is possible once the sole of the hoof can be seen clearly, especially if the hooves have been exposed to extended moist situations.
In addition to successfully ridding the foot of pathogens that may cause hoof disease, Vetericyn’s Hoof Care Spray also creates a protective barrier that will help your horse fight off unwanted bacteria, fungus, and in particular thrush. For more severe situations, Vetericyn’s Hoof Soak deeply cleans & eliminates hoof-eating bacteria from the hoof cavity.
Start Picking the Hoof By Applying Pressure to the Collateral Groove
I’ve removed several horse hoofs, and I think I’ve finally nailed the technique for firmly grasping that troublesome dirt and debris. With your hoof pick, start by identifying the start of each collateral groove and pressing down there. You may use the groove to sift through the dirt that your horse’s hoof has managed to gather.
I always advise using as much power and pressure as is necessary to remove the dirt from your horse’s hooves while cleaning them. It might be difficult to remove dirt from a foot that has been tightly packed with dirt, especially if your horse is wearing shoes.
You won’t damage your horse, so don’t worry. Horse hooves are strong and resilient, and they can take the strain of you slogging through the irritating muck.
Gently Set The Hoof Down
You may avoid unintentionally stepping on your own foot or fingers by controlling when and where the hoof is placed. More significantly, if you let your horse to put their foot down on their own, they could discover that they are free to do so at any time while cleaning. This will increase the difficulty and risk of the cleaning process.
Repeat 3 More Times!
It’s time to clean the other three of your horse’s feet now that you know how to correctly pick up and remove one hoof. When urging the horse to bring up their leg and considering the characteristics of the foot, each hoof should be treated equally.
Even though picking up your horse’s front feet may look different than picking up its hind feet, you would treat them same. The only thing that would be different is that while your horse is tethered, its rear end can be considerably more movable than its front end.
Use high quality hoof care products
There are solutions made specifically for washing horse hooves that also condition them completely for improved general health. They range from hoof washes to hydrating mists. Examine the product’s ingredients before making a purchase. For your horse, natural products are preferable.
Effective hoof conditioners are also available. Go for a reputable company, and Equi-Spa is a fantastic place to start if you’re not sure where to look. Our selection of hoof conditioners and hoof washes are formulated with natural ingredients for superior results.
Regular usage of these items to clean a horse’s hooves will result in stronger, darker hooves. Owners of horses will thus see less chipping.
Products to help keep your horse’s hooves in good condition
Hoof supplements that may be offered to horses to assist healthy hoof growth are available on the market in a variety of forms.
Consult a veterinarian or farrier if you’re trying to improve the health of your horse’s hooves since some treatments may do more harm than good. However, applying the proper hoof oil or conditioner can assist in maintaining the natural moisture balance when the hooves’ regular wet/dry cycle is disrupted by ordinary British weather.
Maintaining Hoof Health
There are a few more behaviors you can adopt in addition to periodic cleanings to make sure your horse’s hooves stay strong and healthy.
Daily hoof inspection is important. Before and after riding, check your horse’s hooves for dirt. You may keep an eye out for cuts, fungus infections, and loose shoes by doing routine inspections.
Avoid letting your horse out in inclement weather. A frequent exposure to muddy, damp pastures when walking your horse might increase their chance of getting thrush.
Maintain clean, dry bedding since wet shavings stick to the horse’s hoof more easily. In a warm, moist atmosphere like this, germs may flourish. Mud and standing water are other causes of foot issues. The greatest preventative is a clean atmosphere!
Encourage regular activity – Regular exercise improves blood flow to the feet. This encourages the development of the hoof and general hoof health.
Inquire about nutrition and supplements – Your horse’s food has a big impact on the condition of its hooves, so ask your veterinarian if there are any dietary changes you can make.
Keep hooves as dry as possible
Washing and conditioning horse hooves may be the first steps in cleaning them, but keeping them dry may be just as crucial. Excess moisture must be reduced in order to maintain the healthiest hooves.
First, thrush can be brought on by wetness. Additionally, it may cause the hooves to contract and expand, loosening the shoes in the process. Hooves may suffer more harm as a result of this.
Controlling too much moisture in the summer may be challenging. The best course of action is to stay away from wet grass, full baths, ponds, muck, and other similar areas. To maintain hooves clean and dry and free of oil, there are products that might be useful.
How often should horse’s hooves be cleaned?
Horse hoof cleaning should be done at least once a day as part of general equestrian care. Before leaving their stables, horses in most professional stable yards have their feet sorted out to prevent dragging muck and bedding onto the yard.
Daily turned-out horses should also have any stones or mud that accumulated in the field cleaned out of their feet following turnout. As part of routine health examinations, horses kept outside all day should have their hooves cleaned and examined at least once daily.
My horse’s hooves smell bad, what should I do?
Thrush can begin in the wet, unclean environment created by manure and soil that have been left in the hoof. Thrush often exhibits a mushy, ragged frog, a black discharge on the sole of the hoof, and an unpleasant, recognizable odor.
Daily hoof care for your horses may help stop the development of thrush. If thrush does develop, see your veterinarian or farrier for guidance on the best course of action, however routine hoof cleaning can help keep it from growing worse. To be most successful, any thrush treatment you use should be given to clean, dry hooves.