Tips For Maintaining Your Horses Hooves

As a horse is only as healthy as its hooves, ensuring you take good and consistent care of your horse’s feet is a must.

Maintaining healthy horse hooves isn’t difficult but it is very important to make sure you do it properly as hooves which are not cleaned and looked after on a regular basis can cause serious health problems and, in extreme cases, death.


Before you start riding your horse, you must decide whether you want to have your horse fitted for shoes. Riding barefoot is very popular at the moment and some riders may prefer to only put their horses in shoes if they become foot-sure or will be doing lots of hardwork.

If you do decide to put them in shoes then take your horse a farrier for fitting. A good farrier should be able to advise you on the type of shoes that are most suitable for your horse and the terrain you’ll be riding in. The amount of time you intend to spend riding will also affect the choice of shoe so always be honest.


Your horse grooming kit should contain everything you need to clean the hoof completely. Ideally, you should clean your horse’s hooves every day and especially before taking him out on a ride. Make sure you pick out any debris like mud, sticks or stones, taking special care around the frog as it contains nerve endings and can be sensitive.

Once the shoe and the frog are completely free from debris, take a few moments to inspect the hoof for damage or signs of disease. Most horses will also need their hooves trimmed with horse clippers every six weeks or so.

If your horse is pastured and barefoot, you may not need to clean the hooves every day but you will still need to check them on a regular basis – at least every other day. This will help you to ensure you spot any problems early on and treat them before they have chance to escalate.

Symptoms and signs

As unhealthy hooves can affect the general health of the whole horse, any problems you find need to be dealt with straight away. If you’re unsure whether a problem is serious or not, it’s always a good idea to call your farrier to stay on the safe side. They can advise on what the problem might be and let you know if they think it is worth contacting a vet.

If you smell a foul, rotting odour when cleaning out your horse’s hooves, it’s probably a sign that they have thrush. Thrush is very common in horses and easy to treat but if left untreated it can lead to serious problems and cause your horse a lot of pain and discomfort.

Any punctures, bruises or abscesses need to be dealt with immediately by a specialist vet. If the object that punctured the hoof is still in place, don’t pull it out.

Instead wrap the hoof up, place your horse in its stall and call your vet immediately.

Maintaining moisture levels

Very dry or very wet conditions can affect the strength of horses hooves, with damp weather causing them to soften and dry weather causing them to crack.

To prevent this, keep moisture changes to a minimum and use a treatment that seals the correct level of moisture into the hoof while allowing oxygen to pass through the surface.

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