Did you know that your horse hoof care routine should vary based on the weather? Summer’s dry, sandy footing will require moisturizing hoof oil for horses, while spring’s wet and muddy conditions will have you reaching for a thrush treatment. When it comes to year-round hoof care, we’ve compiled everything you need to know for every season into one handy, how-to guide for horse owners.
Basic Horse Hoof Care Supplies
There are a few horse hoof care supplies you should have on hand all year-round. Whether you’re cleaning horse hooves or apply hoof oil for horses, these supplies will come in handy time and time again.
To start with, find your favorite style of hoof pick and always have at least one on hand. You might be surprised at how easily these get misplaced, so it’s a good idea to have more than one in your grooming tote. Next, purchase an inexpensive stiff brush. This brush will be very useful to get mud, dirt, and sand off of your horse’s hooves before applying any type of product.
If you’re a competitive rider who attends a lot of horse shows or clinics, then adding a tub of hoof polish to your tack box is a great idea. You never know when you want to add a little extra glamour to your horse’s overall look!
If you’ve been riding horses for more than a few years, you’ve probably had a horse with a thrush infection. Thrush is an extremely common horse hoof infection that you should always be prepared to treat as soon as you notice it. Have a thrush treatment or preventative product easily accessible at all times.
In case of an emergency, there are a few different hoof boots you’ll want to have on hand. Hoof boots are super useful in case of a lost shoe or sore hooves. They provide instant relief for a hurt horse by placing a barrier between the hoof and hard ground. Icing boots are also useful in case of a medical emergency. By filling the boot with ice, you can quickly and efficiently cool down your horse’s hooves to reduce inflammation and pain.
Last but not least, hoof tape is a useful time saver in case you need to wrap or poultice your horse’s hooves. This tape is pre-cut to the size and shape of the average horse hoof. All you have to do is apply your poultice, place a piece of cotton over the sole of the hoof, and apply the tape.
While you may need different horse hoof care products depending on the time of year, you should always have these seven supplies on hand at all times.
Basic Hoof Care Shopping List:
- Hoof Pick
- Hoof Brush
- EquiFit Pack n Stick Hoof Tape
- Hoof Boots
- Thrush Treatment of Choice
- SuperShine Hoof Polish
- Hoof Icing Boots
3 Fall Horse Hoof Care Tips
Autumn is a “slow time” of year for horse hoof care. The dropping temperatures make it less likely for thrush infections to develop and the ground is usually optimal for wear and tear on hooves. 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
Autumn is the perfect time of year to make a plan for the winter months. 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 supplies. Evaluate if you’re running out of crucial hoof care products 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 or in a snowstorm without the supplies you need!
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 the 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, use the time to 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 hoof oil while cleaning your horse’s hooves. For example, Hooflex Therapeutic Liquid Conditioner is a great hoof oil for horses 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.
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.
Fall Hoof Care Shopping List
- Hooflex Therapeutic Liquid Conditioner
- Farrier’s Formula Double Strength
5 Winter Hoof Care Tips
One of the best parts of a winter snowstorm is curling up inside with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. But unfortunately for equestrians across America, our horse’s hoof care needs are just as crucial as ever over the winter! On top of cleaning horse hooves everyday, now equestrians have to face some additional challenges that winter brings.
These five winter horse hoof care tips will help you keep your horse happy and healthy all winter long.
Prepare for Sore Hooves
Every winter the ground freezes over and all the soft natural springiness of soft dirt and grass hardens into a frozen tundra. In many parts of the United States, this frozen ground can become almost like concrete. Even worse, the freeze-thaw cycle will create frozen lumps of mud that will turn a previously flat pasture into something that’s rocky and difficult to walk on. Especially if you continue to ride your horse outside over the winter, this hard footing can cause stone bruises and place extra concussion on your horse’s joints.
Many horses also get extra frisky when the temperature drops. They may start galloping around the paddock and play-fighting with herdmates. While all of this activity is great for their mind and health, it’s not the best for horse hoof care when the footing is poor. The continuous pounding can cause your horse to come up lame with very sore hooves.
Luckily, Absorbine created Magic Cushion to give our horse’s hooves a little bit of relief from wintertime challenges. This hoof poultice contains ingredients like turpentine and iodine to reduce hoof heat in as little as one hour and relieve the symptoms associated with hoof concussion and trauma. At the same time, Magic Cushion’s natural ingredients kill and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi to avoid nasty hoof infections, like thrush.
Be Aware of Snow Build-up
As many women know, walking in high heels is difficult. One wrong move, and you can fall over. Every winter, many horses wind up with “snow stilettos” thanks to snow build-up in their hooves. Not only can these snowballs make cleaning your horse’s hooves very difficult, but they also cause your horse to have a hard time with their balance. Plus, snow build-up places extra strain on soft tissue and tendons.
There are several options to keep snow from building up in your horse’s hooves. For example, if your horse is shod, your farrier can install several different types of pads to prevent snow from getting stuck in their hooves. One very common option is to place rubber rim pads that force the snow out of the hoof. There are even specialty winter pads that feature a round bubble in the middle to pop the snow out of the hoof before it gets too tall.
If your horse is barefoot, installing pads of any type may not be an option for you. Instead, try using a pair of hoof boots when your horse is turned out. Before purchasing a pair of boots, read the descriptions carefully. Not all horse hoof boots are durable enough to be worn during turnout, and may wind up broken before too long.
The Cavallo Trek Regular Sole Hoof Boot is one of our favorite options for the barefoot horse looking for extra protection during turnout. The extra durable, high-quality tread helps to reduce snow build-up. Also featured is an inside rim for sole, frog, and bars relief. Wide velcro closures give these boots the best chance of staying on your horse’s hooves all day long.
Clean Your Horse’s Hooves Every Day
One of the toughest parts of winter is the freeze and thaw cycle. As the weather warms up to just above freezing, the snow melts and creates a muddy slushy mess that freezes again as soon as the temperature drops a few degrees. This cycle is the bane of horse owners all over the United States. Not only does it make a mucky, muddy mess of pastures, but it also creates less than ideal horse hoof care conditions. Wet and sludge-filled pastures are more likely to harbor bacteria that cause harmful hoof infections, like thrush.
While thrush is very common and generally not harmful if caught early, it can cause serious problems if it is allowed to progress deep into the hoof. Many different bacterial strains, and even some fungi, can cause this aggravating hoof infection. Some of these strains of bacteria may become particularly aggressive, eating their way deep into the hoof and destroying the frog as it goes.
The best way to combat thrush is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Prioritize cleaning your horse’s hooves every day to prevent mud and manure from getting packed into the crevices. Keep a variety of high-quality thrush-fighting products on hand, like the Lincoln Stockholm Tar in a Tub. This antiseptic dressing keeps the frog, sole, and wall of the hoof healthy. Originally sourced from pine trees, this hoof oil for horses has been used by horse owners for decades because of its antiseptic and waterproofing qualities.
Keep Stalls Dry and Clean
Every winter our horses spend more time in their stalls. Because they may spend long hours in a stall, it’s important to keep it as clean as possible. This may seem like a Sisyphean task, but try to keep your horse’s stall dry and clean. The benefits outweigh the obstacles in your way, as spending an extended amount of time in a dirty stall can cause hoof problems.
Stalls can quickly become filled with urine and manure, allowing bacteria and fungi to grow unchecked. This unhealthy environment combined with limited movement causes thrush infections or possibly even painful abscesses. If your horse is in a stall often over the winter, make sure to clean it a minimum of once a day, preferably even twice a day, to cut down on urine and manure build up.
If you board your horse at a barn, you may not have the luxury of increasing the number of times your horse’s stall is cleaned (at least without paying a hefty fee). What you can do is clean your horse’s hooves more often. Removing all that dirt, manure, and urine-soaked bedding will help to prevent the growth of bad bacteria and keep your horse healthy and happy.
Use a product like Absorbine’s Hooflex Natural Dressing and Conditioner on a regular basis to prevent and treat hoof infections. This all-natural horse hoof care dressing contains ingredients like comfrey, arnica, tea tree oil, and avocado oil. Combined into one powerful formula, this hoof dressing helps maintain the hoof’s natural moisture balance and supports shiny, healthy hooves.
Work with Your Farrier
Do you pull your horse’s shoes over the winter and let your horse go barefoot? This practice is very common among equestrians who may not ride over the winter months. Pulling your horse’s shoes has some big benefits, like a decreased risk of snow build-up in the hooves.
Be sure to maintain your horse’s regularly-scheduled farrier visits all winter long. Even if you pull all four of your horse’s shoes, you’ll still need to make cleaning your horse’s hooves a daily habit and stay on top of all farrier visits. Many equestrians already see their farrier less often over the winter as hoof growth slows and trim cycles may be extended by a week or two. Keeping up with your horse’s hoof care is vital to their overall health and happiness all winter long.
Before deciding to pull your horse’s shoes, talk about it with your farrier so you know what to expect and the best way to go about it. Keep in mind that some horses will become extremely sore if you pull their shoes. It might be a good idea to add a supplement to support healthy hooves to their diet.
For example, EquiThrive’s Hoof Pellets deliver essential support to safely improve hoof quality at the cellular level in horses of all ages and breeds. Ingredients include the well-known and popular essential nutrient biotin, which supports hoof cell growth for added strength.
Winter Hoof Care Shopping List:
- Magic Cushion
- Cavallo Trek Regular Sole Hoof Boots
- Lincoln Stockholm Tar in a Tub
- Hooflex Natural Dressing and Conditioner
- EquiThrive’s Hoof Pellets
Discover more Winter Horse Hoof Care Tips here.
4 Spring Horse Hoof Care Tips
Spring is always a welcome sight after a long, cold winter. The first crocuses of the year are poking their bright green heads out of the ground and robins fill the air with beautiful birdsong. But just like every season, spring comes with its own horse hoof care challenges. Following these five spring hoof care tips can make this season even more enjoyable for both you and your horse.
Win the Battle Against Thrush
Are you sensing a theme here? Thrush happens every season of the year, but it’s most common in winter and spring due to muddy conditions.
Luckily, thrush is easy to recognize as it is notoriously smelly. If you pick up your horse’s hoof and get a whiff of something rotting, then you might be dealing with thrush. It almost smells like a miniature compost heap. You may also notice a black goo-like substance as well. In some horse’s hooves, it may almost seem like gunpowder.
If the product you used over the winter is no longer working in the spring, it might be because you’re dealing with a different strain of thrush. Try a different thrush treatment, like Life Data Hoof Clay. This pliable, antimicrobial clay packs easily into areas around the frog, as well as into hoof defects and old nail holes. Designed to remain in place, it provides long-acting protection against a wide spectrum of bacterial and fungal infections, including thrush.
April Showers Bring May Flowers and… Hoof Problems
You’ve probably heard the phrase “April showers bring May flowers.” For equestrians, April showers also bring mud. Muddy paddocks and pastures aren’t just known for sucking off muck boots, dirtying horses, and wreaking havoc on spring grass growth. Rain and wet pastures can actually oversaturate hooves.
These wet conditions lead to softer hooves and unbalanced hoof growth. The rain-soaked ground doesn’t provide as much abrasion, so your horse’s hooves aren’t naturally worn away as quickly as they would be in dry conditions. This can cause your horse’s hooves to become unbalanced. Working closely with your farrier is an important part of horse hoof care and will help keep your horse sound every spring.
The increased moisture can also cause your horse’s frog to slough off. While this is a completely normal process, it can lead to tender feet. Consider adding Lincoln Eucalyptus Hoof and Sole Dressing to your stockpile of hoof care supplies. This antifungal, moisture-regulating ointment protects against brittleness and cracking, as well as saturation and flaring dependent upon the conditions.
Protect Your Horse on Trail Rides
Few things in life beat an enjoyable spring trail ride on a good horse and in perfect weather. But if your horse is barefoot, you may be forced to avoid gravel roads and rocky trails. This is a smart way to avoid stone bruises, but it can be disappointing to watch your friends ride off down the road while you’re stuck at home.
The solution: horse hoof boots. With EasyBoot Fury Heart, you can go anywhere. As the first horse hoof boot that adjusts in both heel height and length, you can achieve a secure fit no matter where your horse is in their trimming cycle. Its aggressive tread pattern gives your horse optimal grip no matter the footing, while the cushioned heel sling prevents rubs.
Preventative Horse Hoof Care for Show Season
Spring means that horse show season is right around the corner! If you’re ready to get out there and win at your next rodeo, the last thing you want is for your horse’s feet to hold you back. Sore, tender soles, stone bruises, thrush infections, and abscesses are all common spring horse hoof care conditions that can prevent you from heading to your next competition. Luckily, high-quality preventative hoof care can ensure your horse is ready to rock at your first horse show of the year.
Picking out your horse’s feet on a daily basis, regular farrier visits, and using preventative horse hoof care supplies will all help to keep your horse sound and comfortable all spring long. Get in the habit of using a preventative hoof care product after picking out your horse’s hooves. Use something that is effective, but gentle enough for daily use.
Try adding Hoof Doctor Dressing to your daily routine of cleaning your horse’s hooves. This hoof oil for horses helps to eliminate sensitive soles by improving the quality and elasticity of the hooves. Say goodbye to a variety of hoof infections, thanks to Hoof Doctor’s antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-parasitic effects. And it’s chemical free! Hoof Doctor has an all-natural ingredient list, including birch bark extract, organic omega-3 oil, vitamins A and D, and more.
Spring Hoof Care Shopping List:
- Lincoln Eucalyptus Hoof & Sole Dressing
- Life Data Hoof Clay
- Hoof Doctor Dressing
- EasyBoot Fury Heart
Click here to discover more Spring Horse Hoof Care Tips.
4 Summer Horse Hoof Care Tips
Summer can look very different for horse hoof care, depending on where you live. Equestrians in rainy Oregon may have wet conditions all summer long, while those in Maryland are faced with several months of dry weather. The key to keeping your horse’s hooves at peak health throughout the summer is to maintain the moisture level and keep their diet balanced for excess sugar.
Keep Hooves Moisturized
In many areas of the United States, horses that live outside are faced with a daily cycle of wet and dry. In the mornings, dewy grass soaks the hooves, but by noon, the ground is dry as a bone. The constant expansion and contraction of the hoof can lead to brittle hoof wall growth and cracks.
Your job as an equestrian and horse owner is to help your horse maintain the moisture balance in their hooves. There are a few different ways to do this. Some horse owners choose to change their stable management practices and only turn their horses out after the dew has dried. But for other equestrians whose horses live outside full time, this just isn’t possible. That’s where a high-quality hoof oil for horses comes in.
Farnam Rainmaker has a deeply penetrating formula that attracts, absorbs, and retains moisture. This triple moisturizing action leaves hooves stronger and more pliable after application, which prevents pesky hoof cracks. When applied properly, Rainmaker can even help restore the periople, which is a thin layer of tissue that prevents moisture loss.
Summertime Sugar Watch
Did you know that grass contains high levels of sugar? If you own or have worked with a sugar-sensitive horse, you’re probably familiar with this fact. But the average equestrian may think nothing of turning their horse loose on fresh, spring grass for several hours. The truth is that all of this sugar is bad for hoof growth.
Horses that are susceptible to laminitis may come back in from turnout with extremely painful hooves. According to the University of Minnesota, “Rapid intake of nonstructural carbohydrates (or sugar) stored in pasture plants can cause laminitis.”
Over time, laminitis can cause the coffin bone to sink or rotate. In extreme cases, this bone can even protrude through the sole of the hoof. Luckily, you can help your horse’s hooves stay healthy all summer long by practicing responsible grazing, and putting your horse on a good supplement.
If you have a horse who is susceptible to laminitis, purchase a grazing muzzle to limit their grass intake or turn them out onto a dry lot only. Set up an exercise schedule to keep the horse fit and healthy, and work closely with your veterinarian.
A supplement like the Life Data Lamina Formula can help your horse process the sugars in the grass. Designed for horses with either acute or chronic laminitis, this unique formula supports blood flow to the hoof wall and reduces inflammation in your horse’s hooves. If you continue feeding the supplement after a laminitic attack, it can even help to prevent future bouts of laminitis.
Prevent Wear and Tear
Dry conditions through the summer months can cause excess wear and tear on your horse’s hooves. The hard ground may turn sandy if your area does not get enough rain, which can be quite abrasive on your horse’s hooves and lead to more wear and tear. A good hoof oil for horses can maintain hoof elasticity and flexibility, therefore creating a more resilient hoof.
Cut - Heal Hoof Heal Nourishing Hoof Dressing prevents brittle, cracked hoof walls and heels with its all-weather brush-on formula. The best part about this hoof dressing is that you can use it no matter the weather conditions outside. This hoof oil for horses is designed to maintain moisture balance and promote breathability to reduce wear and tear on brittle hooves. Hoof Heal penetrates deep into the hoof and provides protection and shine for three to five days after just one application.
Horse Show Hoof Care
Has your horse ever pulled a shoe in the middle of a competition? Good horse show hoof care can prevent this from happening and give you options to continue competing even if your horse does throw a shoe.
Before going to a horse show, make sure you know whether or not the show grounds will have a farrier on-site who can put the shoe back on. You should not continue to compete if your horse has one shoe on one foot and no shoe on the other. This uneven footing will make your horse unbalanced and prone to injury. Plus, if your horse is not used to being barefoot, the unshod hoof could be causing pain, particularly on rough terrain.
You can prevent your horse from knocking off or twisting his shoe by wearing bell boots in the warm up and during the show if it's allowed for your discipline. A high-quality pair of bell boots, like the EquiFit Essential Bell Boots, will cover your horse’s hoof from the coronary band to the ground. This way, your horse will step on the bell boot instead of the horseshoe.
EquiFit Essential Bell Boots are made of a lightweight, waterproof foam with a virtually indestructible EverLeather outer shell that resists scratches, tears, and punctures. A plush fleece-rolled top protects your horse’s sensitive skin and prevents rubs.
If you’re at a horse show with a barefoot horse, you could face a whole different set of challenges. While it would be impossible for a barefoot horse to throw a shoe, as he isn’t wearing any, he could still get a stone bruise. For example, many horse shows use gravel or stone for the roads leading to the rings and around the grounds. If your unshod horse isn’t used to this type of terrain, it might be a good idea to have a pair of hoof boots on hand to wear in between classes and save your horse’s feet.
Summer Hoof Care Shopping List
- Farnam Rainmaker
- Life Data Lamina Formula
- Hoof Heal
- EquiFit Essential Bell Boot
What Horse Hoof Care Essentials Do You Need?
The old adage no hoof, no horse holds true. Your horse’s hooves support their entire body. If their hooves aren’t in top condition, they won’t be either. The right horse hoof care products can help your horse perform their best.
From supplements to farrier tools to hoof oil for horses, we have everything you need when it comes to caring for and cleaning horse hooves. Head to our Hoof Care tab to browse our selection of products.
What horse hoof care products are on your shopping list?