Advice For Looking After Your Horse's Hooves

"We have all heard the saying 'no hoof, no horse' which is why it is essential to have your horse seen by the farrier regularly.

Correct balance of the hoof promotes soundness and if the hoof is not well balanced a range of problems can arise such as bony changes within the foot, soft tissue damage caused by uneven loading and stress through the limb.

When assessing hoof balance of the horse it is important to assess from three ways; the lateral view (from the side); from the front, and the dorsal view (the underside of the foot).

From the side view the hoof-pastern axis should form a straight line, i.e. the hoof wall should follow the same line as the pastern bone. From the front the coronary band should be flat and parallel to the ground. From underneath the centre point should lie between the widest part and just behind the point of the frog.

If your horse's feet do not match the above description then you should have them seen by a farrier. Don't be afraid to ask your farrier for advice; they will be able to let you know whether your horse is shod regularly enough and if there is anything else you can do to help. The recommendation is that a horse should see the farrier every 6 weeks however some horses with poor feet will need to be shod as often as every 4 weeks, whereas some horses will last 8 -10 weeks with no problems.

If your horse has problems with its feet then your farrier may recommend remedial shoeing to correct this. This will generally be done in conjunction with your vet as your farrier may want to see x-rays to get a better understanding of what is going on within the hoof and the angle of the pedal bone.

There are various different types of shoes that your farrier may select depending on the horse's requirements. These include natural balance shoes (designed to increase natural breakover), egg bar, heart bar, onion shaped, front toe clips and side quarter toe clips.

If in any doubt about your horse's needs, speak to your farrier. They have experience in balancing and trimming horse's hooves and will be able to advise you on the best course of action. Using their unique combination of veterinarian and blacksmith skills, they can help you to look after your horse's hooves in the correct manner."

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