Autumn is the perfect time of year to evaluate your horse’s hoof health before winter weather hits. While fall does have its own hoof problems (mud, thrush, and laminitis), it is also the perfect time to pause and evaluate how your horse hoof care program has been working so far. During the fall, focus on maintaining daily hoof care to-dos (cleaning hooves every day, cleaning stalls, the basics). Use this time to prepare for the future and evaluate your current plan.
Get Ready for Winter
Will you be pulling your horse’s shoes or are you keeping them on all winter long? Chat with your farrier at your next appointment and discuss their opinion on pulling your horse’s shoes or leaving them on. If your horse has nice, healthy feet, going barefoot may be the right decision for them. If you do decide to pull your horse’s shoes, you may want to take them off now, before the ground is truly frozen and as hard as concrete.
Comb through your horse hoof care products. Evaluate if you’re running out of crucial hoof care supplies and if you need to replace or throw out old products. Make sure you have your winter horse hoof care shopping list done, so you don’t get caught with a sore horse in a snowstorm without the supplies you need!
Does your horse have thrush or weak, cracking hooves? If your horse’s hooves aren’t healthy, stop and try to decipher why that might be. Is their diet properly balanced or are they missing some key nutrients? Are they on any horse hoof supplements? Are you using any preventative thrush treatments?
Maintain Hoof Health
As you come out of the dry summer season, your horse’s feet have a higher chance of being healthy and free from infections, like thrush, that are more prevalent during the rainy season. Fall is all about maintaining that infection-free health with preventative horse hoof care.
When you clean your horse’s hooves on a daily basis, check for signs that any hoof infection is returning. Look for a rotten smell, new signs of wall separation, and anything strange about the appearance of your horse’s hooves.
Use a preventative horse hoof care product while cleaning your horse’s hooves. For example, Hooflex Therapeutic Conditioner is a great horse hoof care product that covers all your bases. Not only does it keep just the right amount of moisture in the hoof, it also creates a breathable moisture barrier that is antibacterial and antifungal. Use it on a daily or weekly basis, depending on your horse’s specific needs, to ensure that your horse has healthy feet all autumn long.
Did you start your horse on any new supplements over the spring or summer? Now is the perfect time to evaluate how those supplements performed and decide whether or not to continue using them or switch to something different. Remember, winter can be tough on your horse so you want to head into the colder months with their hooves as healthy as possible.
When evaluating your supplements, keep in mind that most supplements take a significant amount of time to start working. If you just started a new horse hoof care product a week or two ago but haven’t seen any positive changes, don’t write the supplement off just yet. Give all supplements at least a month before evaluating whether or not they’re working.
Look closely at your horse’s feet. Are there any signs of cracking or brittleness? Have they been producing a good amount of new horn? On average, it takes a horse an entire year to grow a whole new foot. The faster your horse’s hooves grow, the better they’ll be able to recover from abscesses and stone bruises. The right supplement can support your horse’s hoof health and growth rate for optimal performance.
Farrier’s Formula Double Strength by Life Data Labs has twice the nutrients of the original Farrier’s Formula recipe. This unique horse hoof care supplement works to support hoof growth from the inside out. It provides nutrients such as phospholipids, omega fatty acids, and important amino acid proteins to help your horse create strong structural and connective tissues that are important for healthy hoof structure and growth.
Build Harder Hooves
With winter right around the corner, now is the time to start hardening your horse’s hooves. Winter ground is often hard, lumpy, and icy: the perfect combination to create hoof soreness and stone bruises. By hardening your horse’s hooves now, you can help them prepare for the winter footing. The harder your horse’s hooves are, the less likely they are to develop stone bruises and cracking, no matter how much they play out in the pasture.
If your horse is prone to hoof conditions, like thrush, as well as sore soles, you may want to try a product like Hoof Doctor. Hoof Doctor is made from all natural ingredients and contains no harmful or petroleum-based products. It prevents thrush, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and it also strengthens the keratinization process.
Or, if you’d prefer a hoof strengthening product that has been around for decades, you can always use Venice Turpentine. Venice Turpentine is a disinfectant and antibacterial agent that promotes circulation and new hoof growth by acting as a counterirritant. It toughens hooves and helps to eliminate hoof-related pain during strenuous exercise. All in all, Venice Turpentine is a great choice for horses with soft or brittle hooves.
Keep an Eye on Your Horse’s Sugar Intake
When it comes to equine metabolic issues, like laminitis or founder, most equestrians know to watch their horse’s exposure to high sugar grass in the spring. But did you know that fall pastures are just as high in sugar as in the spring?
If you have a horse who is prone to these metabolic-related hoof issues, it’s just as important to limit their grass intake in the fall as it is in the spring. Grass uses sugar to fuel its growth. In the fall, this sugar cannot be used as quickly as it is stored, leading to an overabundance of sugar in the grass. Unfortunately, this also means that this type of grass is extra delicious to your horse!
Too much sugar in their diet can lead to hoof issues such as laminitis (inflammation of the sensitive laminae inside the hooves). In severe cases of laminitis, the coffin bone can actually protrude out of the bottom of the hoof. It may also rotate, putting additional stress on tendons and other attached soft tissue.
AniMed Remission is a good supplement for horses who are prone to laminitis or other metabolic issues. Designed for horses who are prone to founder, this supplement relieves pain and contains vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants, and amino acids. Use these probiotics for horses with a feeding program based on a diet high in fiber and low in simple carbohydrates to achieve the best results.
The Breeches.com Fall Hoof Care Shopping List
Start fall off on the right foot - er, hoof. Are all of the following supplies in your tack trunk?
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