Many trail riders look forward to fall with a sense of excitement, as autumn is an excellent season for trail riding. The air is crisp and cool without the oppressing heat of the summer sun. Plus, the changing fall foliage creates beautiful scenery in much of the United States. In order to best enjoy the upcoming autumn trail riding season, it’s important to prepare your trail horse so you can hit the ground running.
Hoof care for the trail horse varies greatly depending on whether or not they’re shod or barefoot, have naturally strong feet or need a little help, and your individual budget and stable management. However you currently take care of your horse’s feet, the following tips will help you to keep your horse’s hooves strong and healthy for the upcoming trail riding season.
The Barefoot Trail Horse
Many trail horses can go barefoot very comfortably. Naturally concave hooves provide great traction and grip. Plus, barefoot horses are able to expand and contract their hooves as they walk, which increases blood flow and promotes the development of strong, healthy hooves. However, whether or not your horse can go barefoot while trail riding depends on your location, their genetics, and your hoof care regime.
Barefoot may be fine when trail riding in sandy areas with soft footing; however the wear and tear on the hooves increases significantly when trail riding over rocks and concrete. Plus, not all horses are able to grow strong hooves due to poor genetics or malnutrition at a young age.
On top of this, barefoot trail horses may require some extra hoof management. Equestrians may have to use a hoof conditioner and watch closely for cracks and breaks as the sole will be unprotected. A low-sugar diet and as much turnout as possible will help the barefoot trail horse to grow strong, healthy hooves.
For the barefoot trail horse, we recommend the following products:
The Shod Trail Horse
Shoeing your trail horse can be an excellent hoof care strategy for the right horse and owner. It does cost more in terms of farrier bills, however steel shoes are a very popular way to protect your horse’s feet from any rocks and hard ground that you may come across while trail riding.
Just like the barefoot trail horse, the shod trail horse also has some unique requirements. During the trail ride, bell boots should be used to avoid pulling a shoe. If a normally shod horse does lose a shoe, they can become very sore as they will not be used to riding without the extra protection. Carry a well-fitted hoof boot with you in case your horse pulls a shoe while trail riding so you can continue to protect their shoe-less hoof and ride home.
Take preventative steps to keep your horse’s hooves healthy before the trail ride and as part of your regular grooming routine. Some shod horses are more likely to develop thrush or fungal infections as the horseshoes are more likely to hold dirt, moisture, and bacteria close to the sole of the foot. Use a preventative anti-fungal treatment on a regular basis and keep a thrush-specific treatment on hand in case you need it. Apply a high-quality hoof moisturizer to the foot during periods of dry weather, as this helps to keep the hoof flexible and hold onto the shoe.
For the shod horse, we recommend the following products:
Hoof Boots for Full Coverage Protection
Hoof boots are a must-have tool for any serious trail rider. Not only can they provide protection as needed for a barefoot horse and take the place of a lost shoe in a shod horse, but they also offer full-coverage protection.
Trail riding can be dangerous as horse and rider cover rough terrain. It’s easy for rocks and sticks to scrape and sometimes even puncture your horse’s vulnerable heel bulbs and frog. Hoof boots are an excellent option for equestrians who are looking to protect the entirety of their horse’s hoof, not just the sole.
Many hoof boots cover the hoof from the sole to the pastern. For example, the Cavallo Trek Hoof Boot has a tough nylon and rubber upper shield that wraps around the horse’s hoof and secures with velcro and straps. The inside features a rim to relieve pressure on the sole, bars, and frog. Combined, these two features offer the complete package and full-coverage protection from back to front, top to bottom, and side to side.
Hoof Care from the Inside Out
No matter how many hoof dressings, anti-fungal treatments, horseshoes, and hoof boots you put on your horse’s feet, the fact of the matter is that some horses just don’t grow good quality hooves. While the old saying, “no hoof, no horse” is true, there are some steps you can take to encourage your horse to grow better hoof horn.
Adding a high-quality hoof supplement to your horse’s regular feed ensures that they receive the right ratio of vitamins and minerals to grow healthier hooves. Not all hoof supplements are created equal. Choose one that’s backed by a company with an excellent reputation.
Farrier’s Formula Double Strength was created by Life Data Labs to help horses grow better hooves, from weanlings to adults. This palatable top dressing provides nutrients, such as phospholipids, omega fatty acids, and amino acid proteins, to enable horses to build strong structural and connective tissue proteins that are important for healthy hoof structure and growth. Farrier’s Formula Double Strength has twice the nutrient concentration as the original Farrier’s Formula for healthier hooves, faster.
Shop Hoof Care for Your Trail Horse
Whether your trail horse is barefoot or shod, has rock-crushing hooves or is a little tender, we have all the supplies you need to keep your horse healthy and happy on Breeches.com. From topical ointments and creams to anti-fungal treatments to feed through nutrition for strong hooves, we strive to offer all of the products the trail riding equestrian needs.
Click here to shop our selection of hoof care products now.
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