Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Key To Better Hooves

Years ago I spent a lot of time rubbing various treatments along the top of the hoof line of many of our horses. Sometimes the hooves seemed to improve. Usually they did not. I tried adding some supplements that were supposed to improve hoof quality. The only thing that I found that made an appreciable difference was black oil sunflower seeds.

Minerals matter and some horses do not get enough of certain minerals in their hay. Free choice, loose mineral in a Ca:P 2-1 ratio will take care of a horse's basic mineral needs.

Heredity matters. That is why various strains of horses that are only a few generations from the wild tend to have so much healthier hooves than modern breeds.

Footing matters. Horses whose feet never dry out for months at a time have difficulty maintaining enough moisture to remain supple. Ironic, but hoof dryness is more often caused by living in a wet environment than living in a dry environment. I am already seeing improvements in hoof health by simply rolling hay out in the pastures instead of having them standing in the same place eating stationary round bales. I know of nothing better for building thick soles than movement on round gravel.

Movement matters. The hoof is living and it depends on circulation of blood to remain so. Movement is necessary to get maximum blood flow through the hooves and lower legs.

The trim matters. As is true in most things, the simplest version of the wild horse type trim is the best to follow. Others have developed complex techniques rooted in natural hoof care, but for nearly all horses the simple model that allows maximum frog development, wide heels, and most importantly a "mustang roll" is sufficient. This keeps the weight of the horse on the portions of the hoof that are designed to be weight bearing instead of forcing the thin outer wall to take up that function.

Do a bit of research. Understand the simplicity of the mustang roll. If you still have questions send me a note. It has been years since I have applied anything to the coronet band of a hoof. In fact, I stopped having any need to do so within a year of using natural hoof care trims on our horses.

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