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Care for your horses feet

Updated on March 14, 2017

'No foot, no horse'

It's an old saying, but nothing has ever made it out of date.

A horse is no better than his feet and no better than his legs. The fitness of his legs depend more often than not on whether his feet are all right.

The horse walks on two fingernails at the front and two toenails at the back, forming his four hooves, since each foreleg has only one finger and each hind-leg has only one toe. We call these single toes his feet.

You can leave it up to your farrier to trim and maintain the balance of your horses hooves. But it's up to you to check your horses feet daily, to inspect its health, to prevent numerous other troubles arising.

In the wild the hooves keep to a regular length, because they wear down as fast as they grow (and grow as fast as they wear down). But it would become torn, split, cracked or completely worn away if you put horses on hard unnatural surfaces and did not put shoes on them.

The metal shoe of course wears down also, but very slowly. Yet it does not prevent the horn from growing.

Illustration 1

Illustration 1
Illustration 1

Regular care and maintenance

Examine your horse's feet daily, or as often as you can, such as when you're grooming, and especially on his return from work. If you get dung or mud stuck in there, get it out with a hoof pick, If it remains the foot might become inflamed and develop a disease called thrush. Especially if the muck is impregnated with ammonia from his urine.

Operate the pick from heel to toe, not in the reverse direction, unless you want to run the risk of damaging the sole or frog. Examine the outer walls for any slight crack in the surface, which might be the beginning of a sandcrack. Check that the shoes are all right, and how soon it might be before your horse needs his feet trimmed.

The heels of horses that are forced to stand in filth are weakened by the constant moisture surrounding them and become breeding grounds for a variety of dangerous diseases. It is better to prevent foot ailments than to be faced with the necessity of curing them.

Illustration 2

Illustration 2
Illustration 2


Thrush is a disease of the frog, most commonly found in the hind feet. It is almost invariably caused by unsanitary conditions in the animal's stall. Horses will not get the disease if their stalls are kept clean and well bedded, and if their feet are cleaned out daily.

The first indication of the disease is often the disagreeable odor caused by the discharge from the cleft of the frog. This discharge is at first thin and watery, but later becomes dark, with a tarry consistency. Thrush should be checked quickly as it nearly always leads to severe lameness.

Treatment: First trim away all diseased parts of the horn so that an antiseptic may be applied to the affected parts. Liberal quantities should be applied to the diseased parts. Absorbent cotton stuffed into the cleft of the frog will usually keep the antiseptic in place, although a leather boot may be used in necessary. Obviously the condition of the stall should be corrected immediately.

Do you do it or do you get a farrier to do it?

Who looks after your horses feet?

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