Horse Hoof Care: When Cracking Up is Not a Laughing Matter
Despite a few more anticipated days of warm weather, October is here marking the true end of the summer season. As we pull fresh, clean sheets out of storage bags in preparation for cold temperatures, I tend to take stock of the past few months – what went awry and how to better avoid the same pitfalls next year.
One such challenge this summer was the onset of dreadful cracks in my horse’s hooves and those of his pasture mate. To my horror, pieces of hoof wall peeled away and snapped off. I anxiously wondered what I could do to mitigate this degradation, and so at his next trim, I asked farrier Murphy Hackett for advice. Murphy explained that during periods of hot temperatures, fluctuations in weather conditions from wet to dry cause the hooves to become brittle and break. He shared these five savvy tips for preventing hoof breakage during hot summer months:
1. Dress before you bathe!: with all that sweat, we’re inclined to bathe our horses regularly during the summer. Not to mention, it helps keep them cool when temperatures threaten overheating. However, frequent baths are one of the leading drivers of cracked hooves. So what can we do? Try alternating between sponging and hosing to lessen the time horses’ feet are soaking wet, and apply an oil-based hoof dressing before taking out that hose.
2. Dry feet for turnout: Similarly, apply an oil-based hoof dressing before turning out in a dewy morning, or prior to turning out after a summer rain. This will seal hooves and help prevent the water from penetrating the walls. Moreover, if you’re discovering vertical lines or “pasture cracks” on your horse’s hooves, try applying a pine tar-based hoof dressing such as Bickmore. Once the lines have dissipated, stop use of the dressing, Murphy advises.
3. Take Those Vitamins: Murphy recommends feeding a hoof supplement, and particularly likes a product called Hoof Power. What sets it apart from other hoof supplements? In addition to 20 milligrams of biotin per serving, it contains five amino acids including 6,447 milligrams of dl-Methionine. This serves to catalyze the proper delivery of nutrients – including biotin – within the body to best ensure its absorption. Where can you buy Hoof Power? Contact Us and we’ll connect you to Murphy who sells the product directly.
4. Keep it Clean: We all know the benefits of keeping our horse’s stall clean and dry, but add hoof health to the list. A wet stall can be one of the key culprits of cracked hooves, so pick those pee spots often!
5. Give it a Rest: For horses that live outside 24/7, try keeping them confined indoors in a cool, dry place where fly stomping can be alleviated for just a couple hours per day. Moving around in the great outdoors is wonderful in so many ways, but can take a toll on those clompers.
As you fold up the fly sheets and reminisce about the warm, sunny days of summer, you can look forward to next year by preparing for a great season of strong healthy hooves and sound bodies.
Stay tuned for our next post which will cover keeping horse hooves healthy during the damp, rainy months ahead.