Horse Care Equipment - Hoof Picks
What is a hoof pick?
A hoof pick is simply a hooked device designed to remove mud, dirt and stones from inside a horse's hoof.
A horse's foot is concave and has a triangular growth in the middle, known as the frog. There is a tendency for foreign objects to build up along either side of the frog and sometimes between the hoof wall and the sole of the horse's foot. Because shoes elevate the foot unnaturally high, they increase this tendency. These objects can cause mild temporary lameness or, worse, result in a 'stone bruise' that can take a horse out of action for a while.
Because of this, it is good practice to pick out a horse's hooves before and after riding and when the horse is brought in from pasture.
There are several different kinds of hoof pick.
Traditionally, hoof picks are made out of metal. A metal hoof pick consists of the hooked 'business end' and then a metal loop as a handle. The handle is often, but not always, covered with enamel or rubber.
Some western riders use hoofpicks with a flat handle that is decorated with stars or other such designs...these hoofpicks tend to be somewhat more expensive. Some hoofpicks have a metal pick and a plastic or rubber handle.
Metal hoofpicks, especially fancy ones, tend to be more expensive.
Cheap hoofpicks are often made out of plastic. These have a flat handle with a hole in it for hanging, and a plastic pick.
They are cheap, but just as effective as metal ones. However, they tend not to last as long and may become worn or break.
A folding hoofpick is a metal pick that folds, with the pick part ending up inside the loop of the handle.
Folding hoofpicks are designed to fit easily in a pocket or saddle bag, and eliminate the danger of stabbing yourself on a pick you are carrying. It is a good idea to carry a folding hoofpick on long distance trail rides, allowing inspection and cleaning of the horse's hooves when you stop for lunch or a bathroom break.
Hoof pick with Brush
One of the more popular hoofpick designs is the pick with (or and) brush.
This style of hoofpick has a plastic, rubber or (rarely) metal handle and a metal or plastic pick. On the other side of the handle is a stiff brush with synthetic bristles. This brush is designed to finish cleaning the hoof and to clean mud and dirt from the outside of the hoof. Although hoof brushes are often sold separately, many people prefer the all in one design.
Hoof pick with pocket knife
A rare variation is a Swiss Army knife style device that contains a small hoof pick and a pocket knife that fold into one handle.
I have never actually seen these in use, but know they are available. For people who do a lot of trail riding, these may be a good idea, although I question the durability of a hoof pick that is small and thin enough to fit inside a knife handle. If you routinely carry both a pick and a pocket knife, though, this might be an option worth considering.