We take horse hoof care seriously at Oak Haven Acres. While some of our equine residents came from caring homes to retire, most of the horses on our ranch were rescued from animal cruelty. Good animal stewardship goes beyond just providing food, water, and shelter. We are also responsible for adequate medical attention and daily grooming. Without the hands-on care, our horses are just another sad case of neglect.
One of the most vital parts of grooming your horse is proper horse hoof care. Horses in the wild get plenty of exercise to increase circulation to their hooves. They also have a variety of terrains that keep the hooves trimmed naturally. Whether your horse is shod with shoes, or goes “bare hoof”, proper horse hoof care is a key aspect of maintaining a horse’s comfort and good health. Here are some great pointers to consider:
∴ Keep your horse’s hooves picked clean:
Have you ever got a painful splinter underneath one of your nails? Imagine what it would be like to have a pile of splinters and rocks under your nails, and having to walk on it! Every day, inspect the inside of your horse’s hooves (called a frog), and use a hoof pick to clean them out.
This is especially important any time he has been pastured all day, or if you ride him. Gently pick out any rocks, stubble, and debris, and finish with a good hoof brushing. It can minimize irritation and possible infection. Contact your vet immediately if you find a sharp object punctured in the hoof.
∴ Be alert to any unusual changes in the hooves:
Some of our rescued horses had significant hoof damage due to a bacterial infection called thrush. Horses can get it from standing too long in manure or moisture. Thrush makes the frog ooze with a putrid infection. If you see this, consult your farrier (horse shoe expert) or vet.
∴ Check for hoof cracks:
Your horse’s hooves form just like our finger and toe nails, and they get cracks and splits occasionally. As you inspect the hooves, look for any cracks along the frog, the bottom of the hoof, and around the top. Contact your farrier for recommendations. A cracked hoof could be the result of an abscess, which can cause lameness or even death if left untreated.
∴ If your horse is shod:
Always check his shoes for wear and tear, and any damage from the nails. You should request a visit from your local farrier at least once every six weeks for a hoof checkup and re-shodding.
∴ Additional Horse Hoof Care Tips:
Discuss other important hoof issues with your vet, such as diet supplements, and proper care during cold or wet weather. Remember that each horse is an individual, and may need a different treatment plan. Proper horse hoof care for your equine companions will keep him or her running strong and healthy for years to come.
These useful hacks are from Zeke, our ranch’s resident farrier. He and his family are Amish, and live on the same farm where his family has for generations. It always amazes me what a special bond Zeke has with our horses and his own team. He was raised with the belief that caring for the animals is a divine principle. Zeke works closely alongside our staff vets, Jon and Bev. Together, they have treated hundreds of sick and injured horses that have come to our ranch.
∴ Words from Zeke:
“Some of the most memorable cases are the ones that are walking, after we never dreamed they could walk again. I cannot explain the feeling when you see a horse running free, leaving all the pain and abuse in the past.
My wife’s horse, Anthony, was one such case. Neighbors in the next town over found this once-lively pinto lying in a field, wasting away to bones. When Jon checked him out, he shook his head and advised us just to make the pitiful beast comfortable, because he would not survive the night. We were afraid that this would be a merciful euthanasia case.
Well, that was three years ago, and the horse surprised us all. My wife named him after St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost causes. With a lot of medical attention, proper care, and plenty of love, this horse lived and now thrives. Cases like his makes our mission mean even more to us.
When people give their animals the love and care they need, there will not be any more cases like Anthony’s. If you want to become a horse owner, consider adoption. Not only will you be making a horses life better, but it will be an inspiration for your life.”