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7 Things You Should Be Doing Between Farrier Visits

7 Things You Should Be Doing Between Farrier Visits

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In the world of equestrian care, hoof health is paramount. Regular visits from the farrier form a critical part of this care, ensuring that your horse’s hooves are in peak condition. However, farrier visits alone aren’t sufficient for optimal hoof health.

The weeks between these visits are just as critical, if not more so, and require an active and attentive role from the horse owner.

This guide lays out the important practices and preventative measures you should be taking in these interim periods.

We’ll guide you through the crucial steps you can take to promote overall hoof health, prevent common issues, and create a thriving environment for your horse’s hoof growth.

Always Include Your Horse’s Hooves in Daily Grooming

When you are getting ready for work with your horse, proper grooming and cleaning of your horse’s feet with the hoof pick is essential.  It’s more than just cleaning out the debris to make your horse comfortable. 

Packed mud, ice, and muck can all cause big problems to hooves if left unattended. Use your hoof pick, sweep away from heels to toe and clear out everything before your work begins. 

If your horse has shoes, you have to take care of this step without exception. This ensures you can address any acute troubles right away. 

Stones under the shoe or damage to the frog are some common examples.  Other issues can include fungal infection or irritated or abscessed hooves. 

Daily hoof care is the first opportunity for you to see, feel, or smell anything that is of concern between farrier visits. Don’t skip it!

Work Towards Easy Feet Handling

One of the best things you can do for your farrier is to work with your horse to develop “easy feet”. 

Farriers are really familiar with horses who don’t like their feet handled. That doesn’t mean they should be expected to deal with a difficult horse because a handler doesn’t want to. 

Don’t forget, you need to be cleaning your horse’s feet every time you are going to ride. I recommend a check afterward as well in post-workout grooming. 

The more you handle your horse, (picking up his feet, cleaning them, tapping them, etc.), the better he will behave when the farrier comes to the barn.  

If you have a horse that doesn’t like his feet touched: 

  1. Practice with your horse when you don’t need him to cooperate. 
  2. Start small. Run your hands down his leg with weight shift into shoulder or hindquarter, without asking or attempting to pick up the hoof. 
  3. Once comfortable with that motion, progress in baby steps further towards picking up the hoof each time until you have success. 

When you have ease at picking up each hoof, work towards your horse being comfortable on three legs. Balance is key here, and it can take some practice for each of you to get this right. 

The more you train towards being able to work with your horse’s feet without issue, the more comfortable your horse will be when the farrier visits. 

Keep The Stall Clean

Keep the stall clean and keep those horsey hooves tidy!

It shouldn’t be a surprise. A clean stall is a significant factor in maintaining good horse hoof health. Your horse should never be standing in muck and mire for an excessive amount of time. 

If you are keeping your horse stalled, that environment needs to be cleaned every single day. For pastured horses, they need to come in with a clean stall when it’s time to hit the barn. 

I’m not talking about picking manure. I’m talking clean stall. Roll up your sleeves and get to work! 

If you are boarding your horse and notice troubles in this department, work quickly with the staff to clearly address your expectations. 

Keep an Eye On Those Hooves and Horseshoes

Every day between farrier visits when you’re grooming, make sure to check the condition of the hooves, horseshoes, and nails. 

Loose shoes, wiggly shoe nails, or torn up hooves should all be addressed by your farrier to avoid worsening hoof damage. 

Horses with pads, many gaited horses or those with corrective shoes, need extra close attention to make sure nothing is loose.

Wiggly pads can allow debris to work between the pad and hoof. A potentially painful problem for your horse if left unattended. 

I put my farrier on a regular schedule, but both of us are prepared to adjust when a horse needs us to. If you see something out of place, give the farrier a call to consult about an earlier-than-planned visit.

Be Prepared to Pull Shoes

One skill that you may not know you should know is the ability to pull a shoe in a pinch. There are several reasons that pulling a shoe may be a good idea for you to take care of before the farrier arrives. 

Stones wedged, that won’t budge, is a common one. Shoes that are floppy or only partially attached is another. 

Get yourself a rasp and a pair of pull-offs. The next time your farrier visits, talk to them about how to take care of this task the proper way. 

Use Hoof Care Products 

One of the ways you can keep those hooves healthy is to use extra hoof care product from time to time. 

Remember, horse hooves are made from the same kind of material as our own nails. Hoof dressings, creams, and oils are all good to have on hand. 

Weather changes, especially if very wet or very dry, can have an effect on the condition of your horse’s hooves. 

Too wet? You’ll feel the sole of the hoof getting softer than it should be. The edges of the hoof may have some give to them. Watch for fungus. It’s notorious when dealing with ‘too wet’. 

Too dry? Cracks or chips may start to appear around the hoof wall, especially at the nails or toes. 

While you’re working on handling, take the time to apply your dressing as needed to maintain good moisture levels. 

Talk to Your Vet

If brittle feet or recurring hoof issues are causing your horse troubles, talk to the vet about nutrition. 

For humans, it takes good nutrition to grow healthy nails and hair. Horses and their hooves, mane, and tail are no different. 

Age, physical, and environmental changes can affect your horse’s overall health. Changes to their hooves can be a great telltale that they are in need of a change to their diet. 

So if you or the farrier notices issues, it’s a great idea to ask some questions at your next health check to see if nutritional supplements may help.