HOOF CARE   (Regular Care by a Farrier)

The horse’s hooves have to be regularly taken care of by a farrier. Normally the hoof needs to be polished and superfluous horn cut off with a blade every sixth week. This is necessary for both shod and unshod horses. The hooves of a young horse have to be taken care of even more often as their hooves grow faster - horse’s hooves are not fully developed until the age of five.

A farrier should look over a foal’s hooves every third week, otherwise there is a risk that the hoof becomes too long and that the angle between the fetlock joint and the ground changes resulting in a shorter step and the horse starts to trip. The horse may have pains all the way up to the shoulders, if the hooves are too long on the front feet.

The hooves sometimes get worn irregularly, the farrier needs to correct this to prevent the legs and the joints from changing because of their unevenness. A young horse, that has this uneven position of the legs, wears out its tendons and joints faster and harder than usual. A horse can shorten its life by several years because of early and difficult lameness.

Feeding is important for the hooves, especially the amount of vitamins and minerals in the feed.  Factors such as the bedding’s contents, its thickness, and how it is taken care of, also have an influence on the horse’s hooves. The bed has to be just thick enough to give the frog of the hoof enough resistance when the horse puts down its weight on it.  If the horse continually has to stand on very thick bedding and does not get enough daily exercise, the hoof mechanism cannot function properly and blood and liquids that transport nutrients to the hoof cannot circulate. The same thing will happen if the horse constantly works in a riding-school that has a thick bedding of wood shavings.


Daily Hoof Care

The hooves have to be examined every day in order to discover any stones, sticks or nails that might cause damage and to see if there are any wounds on the bulbs or the pastern. In addition, one can discover if the hooves have started to chap, or if there is an illness. One can also check to see if it is time to call the farrier for cleaning or shoeing. In order to see if there is any damage, the hooves have to be cleaned – all the way into the inner point of the grooves.

To do this, first pick out the feet carefully so that dung and sour straw do not remain in the grooves. Move the hoof pick from behind towards the front to the toe. Check that no foreign object is stuck in the hoof or the shoe and make sure that the shoes fit well and that no nail is missing.  




HORSE SANCTUARY UK LIMITED is a company with charitable objects Registered in England and Wales No. 4593172