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How to Put Hoof Oil on Your Horse in Less than 1 Minute

Updated on June 22, 2011
Pretty toes for horse shows
Pretty toes for horse shows

Yes, all four hooves in under a minute!

At home or horse shows it is important to learn to do things quickly. It not only frees up your time to do more fun things like riding, but it also helps to train your horse’s mind. They learn that if they just stand still for one minute it will soon be over and they can go eat.

Tools you need handy:

  • Hoof pick with brush
  • Hoof oil with a smooth brush applicator
  • Small towel

3 - Start in the safety zone
3 - Start in the safety zone
4 - Bristles parallel to ground draws a clean line
4 - Bristles parallel to ground draws a clean line
5 - Smooth the drips
5 - Smooth the drips
5 - Clean line across bottom
5 - Clean line across bottom
6 - Inside of right hoof from left side
6 - Inside of right hoof from left side
6 - Inside of left hoof from right side
6 - Inside of left hoof from right side

Step 1

Find a somewhat firm place to stand your horse. Concrete or *packed dirt. Scrape off any dirt from the hooves with the side of the hoof pick and brush away the dust. Pick the underside of the hooves before you apply polish – unless you’d like to have goopy hands.

Step 2

Dip the brush in the hoof oil to thoroughly saturate the bristles. Use a spiral motion against the rim of the can to remove any excess oil from the shank of the brush to avoid drips. Position yourself by one of the horse’s front legs - facing their head.

Step 3

Using medium pressure and keeping the top edge of the bristles parallel to the ground, start halfway down the hoof making a long, smooth horizontal stripe. Product will drip down - that is good. Starting in the middle of the hoof wall gives you a safety zone. In case you or something else startles the horse, you are less likely to get a glob of oil on the horse’s hair, and you have already put enough product on the hoof to finish it.

Step 4

Keeping the bristles against the hoof, rock your hand back and forth in large, smooth sweeping motions, across the width of the hoof working your way UPWARDS to the edge of the hair on the coronary band.

Step 5

Now, continue the sweep down across the drips at the bottom of the hoof, creating a smooth line. Keeping the bristles parallel to the ground helps avoid picking up dirt from the ground. Picking up the drips leads you to the next step.

Step 6

Using the remaining product now on the brush from the “dripper picker-upper”, swipe the two rear corners of the hooves that you can SEE from where you are standing. Be quick when reaching across to opposite hoof. [See pictured. When standing on the left side of the horse, paint the left corner of the left hoof and the left corner of the right hoof.]

Step 7

Repeat steps 2-6 on all four feet. You only need 4 dips in the can for 4 hooves.

Step 8

If needed, take your small towel wrapped tightly around one or two fingers and in a very light, downward motion “pick up” any excess oil on the coronary band hair. Avoid the temptation to rub or press against the skin. The hoof dressing simply grabs the towel.

Voila! Pretty toes.


Safety and Anti-Oopsy Tips:

  • NEVER put your face in front of a leg. Gently rest your upper arm against the horse’s leg. It makes them aware of your presence, soothes them a bit, steadies your hand, AND gives you a barrier of protection from getting your nose broken. If you cannot see it, do not paint it!
  • Fly spray beforehand. At a show, there are already far too many reasons a horse can find to dance on your head, avoid letting something preventable get in your way of a beautiful presentation.
  • The hand is quicker than the eye. If your arm is against the horse, you will FEEL the horse about to move BEFORE you ever see it. Take the brush away from the hoof for a second until they settle, then resume at the middle of the hoof and work your way up or down again. Long sweeping motions make for great, smooth finish.


Alternative Product - Hoof Polish

Since hoof dressings and oils attract dirt, another option for shows is to use Hoof Clear instead. It leaves a hardened, lacquer type finish and is available in several different brands. Apply using the *same steps, you are just using a dauber instead of a brush. Hoof Clear is also a great option for horses that don’t stand well ring-side. Wipe them clean and in you go!

Remember, you are enhancing your horse’s natural beauty.

Skip the hoof blackening products unless you are required to use it, or you are in a costume contest and your horse is dressed up as a Breyer Model. Even if your horse’s hooves are naturally black, your horse’s hooves are not BLACK. Put it on a light colored horse and they are guaranteed to look silly.

Word to the wise: Use these types of hard-shell hoof paints as seldom as possible. Unfortunately, they can be very drying to the hooves and often do not wash off. They sometimes have to wear off or grow out and be trimmed off by your farrier.

Until next time… See you at the ring! Happy Riding!

* When applying the hardening hoof polishes on packed dirt floors, it will be easiest if you do the toes and the corners in Steps 5 & 6 BEFORE the middles and coronary bands in Steps 3 & 4. You achieve this by lifting the horse's foot off the ground, as if to pick, swipe the dauber around the hoof wall at the toes and onto the corners. Count to 15...1 horsie, 2 horsie, 3 that it dries. Gently let the hoof down and move on to Steps 3 & 4. Simply switching these steps will give you a clean application and keep the dirt out of your jar of product. (But this method may take you more than the 1 minute. ;)

© 2011 Megan Carl - Mane Alternative


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    • Suzanne Winfield profile image

      Megan Carl - Mane Alternative 6 years ago from Utah

      Thank you ponygirl64! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • ponygirl64 profile image

      ponygirl64 6 years ago

      Thanxs Suzanne on another useful article for improving your horse's appearance in the show ring.

    • Suzanne Winfield profile image

      Megan Carl - Mane Alternative 6 years ago from Utah

      A friend of mine mentioned that she really likes the Tuff Stuff Clear, so I added it for everyone above! Amazon has it at a great price right now. Cheers! -Suzanne