The horses’ hooves are crucial determinants of their overall performance, health, and fitness. Without a healthy pair of hooves, no horse can perform its work well or carry out any exercise. Hooves in poor condition limit the horse’s capabilities, and no one wants that.
To horse hooves and trimming; do horse hooves need to be trimmed, or is it just a pointless activity, money-wasting activity? Some seem to believe that the latter is the case, and we’ll find out why they are wrong in this article. Here, we’ll discuss horse hooves trimming, why they are important, common horse hooves problems, the recommended frequency for horse hooves trimming, and how to care for horse hooves, among other details.
You can drop other questions you may have about horse hooves in the comment section, and we’ll get to them as soon as possible.
- 1 Why Horse Hooves Need To Be Trimmed
- 2 How Often Should The Hooves Be Trimmed?
- 3 Horse Hooves Trimming Tips
- 4 Common Hooves Problems
- 5 Conclusion
Why Horse Hooves Need To Be Trimmed
Why do horse hooves need to be trimmed? For so many reasons! Here are some of them;
Horse hooves simply look bad when allowed to grow too long. Your horse may seem well-cared for with healthy skin and eyes, but unkempt hooves can ruin the entire appearance. What’s more? When poorly cared for, the overgrown/poorly-maintained hooves can affect the internal workings of the tendons and ligaments of the hooves. And this eventually causes mobility issues to your horse.
To Prevent Injuries And Improve Balance
One crucial reason our horses’ hooves should be trimmed regularly is to help keep the hooves balanced. When untrimmed, our horses’ hooves can form cracks, wall separations, and other hoof-related problems that eventually lead to balance issues and poor health. A horse with balance issues is more than likely to grow inactive due to limited mobility.
Tendon And Joint Support
When left to overgrow, the poorly-balanced hooves can easily create stress on the joints and tendons. Left unchecked, it can lead to incapacitating injuries. With regular trimming, horse owners are able to prevent the added pressure to the hoof wall, tendons, and joints.
Prevention Of Extreme Situations
Regular trims help to prevent hoof-related issues from worsening and may even prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Comfortable For The Horse
Regular trimming schedule and health checks will help to ensure that the horse remains as healthy as possible. And this means better performance during play, work, or exercise. The regular visits will also help the horse grow comfortable with routine checks, especially if introduced to it early.
So, what about horses in the wild? How do they cope without the regular hooves trimming?
Unlike domesticated horses, horses in the wild do not need their hooves trimmed because they walk all day, and the process naturally wears the hooves down. On the other hand, domesticated horses are confined and usually well-fed, and as such, the hooves grow faster than they can be worn out without help.
How Often Should The Hooves Be Trimmed?
There is no one-size-fits-all with horses’ trimming schedule. Several factors can determine the frequency of trimmings.
For example, horses kept in pasture and provided with stable bedding/soft surfaces to walk on will require more regular trims than horses kept on harder surfaces. This is because harder surfaces naturally help wear out and file the hooves. Weather is another determinant of horse trimming frequencies.
Many equine experts recommend trimming horse hooves every six to eight weeks in summer. However, considering the factors discussed above, it is advisable for horse owners to carry out the trimmings on an as-needed basis.
Hooves generally grow more slowly in winter. And the slower growth rate means longer intervals for trimming. The interval could be every seven to twelve weeks depending on the horse and how quickly the hooves grow.
Generally, most domesticated horses will do well on six weeks trimming intervals. And when the horse’s feet are bare (without horseshoes), it is more likely to get some level of natural wear, aka self-trimming. But then, this happens more with horses that get plenty of movement on abrasive terrain.
These types of horses are usually able to do well with only occasional trimming or even no trimming at all. If they do get trims, it should be after some of the factors earlier discussed are considered.
Horse Hooves Trimming Tips
If your horses require regular trimming, you want to make sure they are trimmed more frequently, taking off only small amounts instead of waiting until there is a lot of growth buildup.
The method is more likely to keep the hoof condition close to ideal, especially with horses susceptible to developing any form of imbalance. You do not want your horse hooves growing so much between trimmings that it leads to cracking, flaring, or balance problems.
How To Tell If A Horse Needs Its Feet Trimmed
Here are some of the ways to tell if a horse needs its feet trimmed;
The overall shape of the hoof
The natural shape of the hoof at the ideal length will be different from an overgrown hoof. You will be able to notice this difference with daily inspection of the hooves.
The outside of the hoof
On every horse with a well-trimmed hoof, the hoof running between the toe and the coronet band is usually a straight line. If the line has a bend or a dip to it, it is almost certainly because the toe has grown out and the hoof has grown too long.
If you are still not sure about your horse’s hoof condition or if it needs a trim, have a hoof care professional/farrier check for you. They are usually the best people for advice on the ideal cycle for hoof trimming/hoof care.
They are also able to quickly tell a healthy and well-cared-for hoof from an overgrown and poorly-balanced one. They may even show you how to recognize healthy horse hooves and out-of-balance hooves.
Common Hooves Problems
Outlined here and discussed here are some common horse hooves problem and their solutions;
This is commonly marked by symptoms such as long toes and collapsed heels. It can worsen into straining of the flexor tendons and navicular bone when left unchecked. Short toes and long heels from poor trimming, on the other hand, can cause trauma to the coffin bone and joint.
Hoof cracks are commonly caused by dry weather and long trimming intervals. Some horses may also be born with the condition.
If your horse suffers from hoof cracks, what you can do is regularly apply hoof moisturizers to the hoof wall and sole in dry weather and during periods of brittle/cracking hooves. Also, provide it with quality nutrition and, if possible, hoof supplements to improve and maintain hoof health while trimming the hooves regularly to prevent overgrowth.
Hoof thrush is marked by a foul-smelling black oozy liquid and frequently occurs in wet, filthy conditions. The thrush takes over sensitive tissues of the hoof and, when left untreated, can lead to lameness. Thankfully, thrush can easily be prevented by ensuring that your stalls and barn stays clean and dry.
Other common hoof conditions include solar abscess, hot nail, laminitis, and navicular disease.
In this article, we discussed reasons our horses need their hooves trimmed, ways to tell when the hooves are due for trimming, common hoof problems, and other details we hope you find helpful.
Like other domestic animals, our horses require regular grooming, and this includes giving adequate care to the hooves. While it is easy to overlook it, we have to always remember that the hooves are crucial body parts that should never be neglected. Poor maintenance/neglect can set off a host of problems that could cost you more money in the long run.
Trim your horse’s hooves as frequently as needed. If you are unable to, remember that there are hoof care professionals you can hire to do it for you regularly. These are trained and may even teach you a thing or two about horse hooves care.