You should pick out your horse’s hooves every time you visit him. Hooves get packed with mud, or rocks get wedged in the V-shaped groove between the sole and the frog and make your horse lame. If you live in a wet area, mud can pack in your horse’s hooves and cause thrush, a nasty hoof infection.
It only takes a moment or two to pick out a hoof. Here’s how you do it:
- Stand next to your horse’s shoulder and run your hand down his leg.
- When you get down to his fetlock area, squeeze a little and he should pick up his hoof.
- Hold the hoof in your left hand and the hoof pick in your right. Use the pointed end of the hoof pick to remove rocks and mud.
- Always work from the heel (the back of the hoof) to the toe (the front). Remember to clean out the dirt in the groove around the frog. This is an area that gets "thrushy” in wet conditions.
- When you finish, put down his foot gently.
- You pick out the rear hoof the same way. Face backward and run your hand down his leg. Stand next to the horse, not behind him.
- When he picks up his leg, use the hoof pick to remove debris.
Grab a broom
Be considerate! If you keep your horse at a boarding barn, sweep up the mud and rocks that you remove from his hooves right away. Don’t leave a mess.
Some horses can be stubborn about picking up their hooves so try these tricks:
Squeeze the horse’s leg, right above the fetlock, several times. Most horses don’t like this, so they will pick up their leg after a few strong squeezes.
Some horses put all their weight on the leg so you can’t pick it up. Simply lean back on the horse and push his weight onto his other leg. Press your shoulder onto his shoulder and lean back on him. Most horses will shift their weight to the other leg and it should be easier to pick up his foot.
If you live in a hot, dry climate, your horse’s hooves may dry out and crack. Some people apply hoof oils and dressings to the bottom of the hoof and the hoof wall on a regular basis. Hoof dressing makes a hoof shine; so many people apply it at shows.
If your horse’s hooves crack or chip a lot, talk to your farrier about adding a special hoof supplement to his diet. Some supplements contain biotin, a B-complex vitamin that helps to strengthen hooves.
You can find lots of hoof dressings and supplements at the tack shop or feed store.