We’ve all heard the saying, “no hoof, no horse”, which is why caring for your horse’s feet and hooves are vital for long-term soundness and health. Seasonal changes oftentimes bring changes to your horse’s hooves. During the summer you will often find that your horse’s hooves begin to dry out, sometimes cracking and chipping in the process. Not all horses are made equally, and some have hooves that are more difficult to maintain, but this blog goes over what is required for basic summer hoof care that everyone can practice.

Taking Care of Your Horse’s Hooves

There are a few basic horse hoof care steps you must take to maintain a healthy hoof during the summer, including the following:

  1. Maintaining Regular Farrier Visits
  2. Daily Hoof Picking
  3. Feeding a Healthy / Balanced Diet
  4. Reducing the Number of Moisture Changes

By practicing these four steps, you’ll be able to closely monitor any changes that may occur in your horse’s hoof health. For a horse’s hoof to successfully grow, the horse needs to be receiving the right nutrients. Not only is diet an important factor in long-term hoof health, but the daily care of hooves allows you to make sure they haven’t lost any shoes, developed any alarming cracks, penetrated their hoof with something like a nail that could cause infection, or developed any bacterial or fungal infections.

How Often Should The Farrier See my Horse During the Summer?

During the summer, your farrier should visit at least every six to eight weeks. However, some horses that have more delicate feet might need to be seen sooner. The first step in achieving basic hoof care begins with your farrier. Your farrier will help you maintain the hoof and make recommendations to help prevent the likelihood of problems occurring in the future.

How Often Should You Clean Your Horse’s Hoof?

You should take time to clean out your horse’s hooves daily. By having a daily look at your horse’s hoof, you are able to prevent potential stone bruises and monitor for bacteria (such as thrush) that may collect.

What Can You Give Your Horse for Healthier Hooves?

To help your horse achieve healthier hooves, you must make sure that they’re receiving a healthy, balanced diet that contains quality forage, supplementing with vitamins and trace minerals if needed, and access to fresh, clean water.

Your horse should be receiving the following essential nutrients to achieve healthy growing hooves:

  1. High-Quality Rouhage / Forage: The bulk of your horse’s diet needs to come from fresh grass and high-quality hay. Forage contains fiber and the bulk of the vitamins that your horse needs on a daily basis.

  2. Vitamins: If your horse has limited fresh grass, you might need to supplement Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and Vitamin E. These vitamins are normally provided in fresh grass but can be as easily supplemented if your horse does not have enough access to fresh pasture.

  3. Proteins and Amino Acids: Also found in fresh pasture and hay, the essential amino acids found in protein are also essential for optimal health. If you have a horse that is in heavy work, you’ll sometimes find that they’ll benefit from a high-quality protein feed.

  4. Minerals and Salt: Making sure your horse has access to salt and other minerals, such as zinc, copper, and calcium are also vital in achieving healthy hooves.

Not all horses need hoof supplements, especially ones who are not in a lot of work. However, some horses do not get everything they need in fresh pasture, and it’s important to have a conversation with your vet for advice.

Hoof Products

How Can You Prevent Your Horse’s Hooves from Cracking?

As your horse goes back in forth between wet and dry conditions, its hooves will continuously soften and dry out. Wet grass, consistent bathing, ponds, and other wet areas cause your horse’s hoof to expand and become soft. The summer heat and dry ground then contract the horse’s hoof, drying it out. The back and forth between softening and hardening can cause your horse to loosen shoes, cracking their hoof wall in the process.

Hoof Sealant versus Hoof Conditioner

As horse owners, we want to help our horse’s hooves as much as possible, and that’s where hoof applicants become very appealing. However, we may find ourselves wondering when do we use a hoof conditioner or oil versus when do we use a sealant?

Hoof Conditioner / Oil for Dry Conditions

In the summertime or in dry conditions, you’ll oftentimes find that your horse’s hooves are more likely to crack. Because they’re lacking moisture, this is where using a hoof conditioner will come in handy. Dry conditions, such as arena sand, can pull moisture out of your horse’s hooves, so keeping them conditioned will help you keep them softer.

How Often Should You Oil Your Horse’s Hooves?

If your horse is struggling with dry and cracked hooves, you can apply hoof oil at least two to four times a week. However, when your horse’s hooves have improved or the conditions have become wet, you can reduce this to once a week.

Hoof Sealant for Wet Conditions

When a horse lives in wet conditions, its hooves tend to absorb moisture. In return, this makes their hooves soft, prone to bruising, and can even loosen shoes. You want to do your best to keep their hooves as dry as possible, and using a sealant can aid in that process. A sealant creates a barrier on the hoof, keeping excess moisture from entering the hoof.

How Can You Harden Your Horse’s Hooves?

You can harden your horse’s hooves by evaluating their living conditions, and nutrition, and by applying topical products. Thin, soft soles often lead to sensitivity and sometimes increased abscesses. Hardening your horse’s soles help protect the inside of their hooves, making them more comfortable. There are many products, such as Venice Turpentine and Keratex, that seal and harden your horse’s hooves. Oftentimes, you’ll find that these products help fight against fungal and bacterial infections, such as thrush.

As previously stated, all horses are created differently and not all need the same treatment. If you’re in doubt about the health of your horse’s hooves, contact your veterinarian or farrier for advice. In summary, maintaining a healthy diet, regular farrier visits, daily care, and being mindful of the conditions your horse is living in will help you maintain basic hoof care.