Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Building better hooves

by: Christy West, Webmaster
February 01 2007, Article # 8819

At some point, probably all of us have used some type of product to improve our horses' feet. And many of us haven't seen the results we wanted, so perhaps we tried another. And another. Despite our best efforts, some of us despair of ever having horses with those tough feet that don't crack and hold all the shoes until the farrier's next visit. One of our online readers put it best: "I need a miracle!"

We don't have to despair, but we do have to be smart about how we take care of our horses' feet. Not all products are good for all horses, just as all face creams aren't good for all women. To wade through the hoof product jungle, we first asked our online readers at to tell us what products they used. Then, we asked the nation's leading hoof experts about how to get the most out of various products.

Careful With Those Feet

Home remedies are commonly used for many things, including hoof care. Our readers have used everything from Clorox to formaldehyde to WD-40 lubricant to commercial deck preservatives to improve their horses' hooves. But trying just anything might not be in your horse's best interest.

"The number one thing is that you should use something that is at least marketed for the horse," recommends Richard Mansmann, VMD, PhD, director of the Equine Health Program at North Carolina State University. "At least with those products, someone's thought about the health of the horse, rather than the health of your carpet, deck, or whatever.

"Anything that you're putting on the hoof has a pretty good chance to get on the skin," Mansmann cautions. "You want to be careful about what you're using, that it has some kind of approval for horses and you follow the label instructions. Using common sense with hoof products is really important. With a lot of these things, if we just become aware of the underlying problem, we can take care of it so it goes away. If the feet are too wet, don't turn him out into a wet pasture. If they're too dry, wet the shavings, trough area, etc."

In other words, fixing feet takes proper management, not just a magic dressing. But hoof products can be a part of the plan that strengthens your horse's hooves.


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