“No foot, no horse” as the old saying goes. So it’s important to look after your horse’s feet well. Make sure you have an excellent farrier – and treat him like a prince with plenty of cups of coffee. Between farrier visits, keep an eagle eye on his feet yourself. Good horse feet care starts with a daily routine.
Pick your horse’s feet out every day to minimise the chances of him getting thrush (a bacterial infection that causes the frog to smell).
Check for signs that he needs the farrier eg risen clenches, loose shoe, cracks in the foot or misshapen hooves. If your horse isn’t shod, check the feet aren’t splitting or flaring.
Check he’s not lame - in which case you may need the vet and/or the farrier if you think the problem might be in his foot
Book your farrier for every four to six weeks to shoe or trim your horse’s feet
If your horse has a problem with his feet then there are a number of hoof supplements on the market that can help give him higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals and boost the quality of the foot he grows. Ask your vet to recommend one for you. There are also some topical treatments that you can buy that will help the quality of his hoof horn. You can choose these yourself.
Dry and brittle feet
If your horse’s feet are a bit dry, then apply a grease or treatment to soften them. Often these contain linseed, glycerine or vegetable oils to soften the hoof wall. Greases also help to improve the appearance of your horse’s feet.
Soft, crumbly feet
Traditionally, products containing tar are used to dry out the horse’s foot. You may have heard of Stockholm tar for horse’s feet. Naturally antibacterial pine tar stops the frog and sole deteriorating, but you should only use it on the inside of the horse’s hoof, never the hoof wall or coronary band. It’s great to use in the winter when feet get wetter and to help get rid of thrush. In winter, ointment may harden, so you may need to stir it for a few minutes to soften it before painting it on to your horse’s hooves with a brush.
If you are going to a show, you may want to simply paint on hoof oil or black show grease to your horse’s hooves to turn them out to perfection.
Try not to put any treatments on before your farrier arrives, as they will make his job more difficult. However, treat your horse’s feet well and you will have many happy days of riding.