With spring in the air and summer on its way, horse owners should be taking extra care of their horses - more specifically, their hooves.
Hooves are important to take care of and maintain, especially during the winter and summer seasons. A horse’s hoof care needs change depending on the season, so it is critical for horse owners to adapt to those needs accordingly.
Summer is a time for horse owners to thrive with horse shows, trail rides, holiday parades, and rodeos. Warmer months are an opportunity for horse owners to get out there to train their horses and enjoy the great outdoors. However, according to Equine Wellness Magazine, hot temperatures and dry conditions can lead to issues with horses’ hooves, such as contraction. Horses maintain a certain elasticity, strength and structure in their hooves, which means they need to be properly hydrated and kept cool; otherwise, there is risk of “potential for loss of function and greater exposure to injury and infection.” Equine Wellness Magazine says “turnout, exercise, and regular balanced trims contribute to the overall well-being of the hoof.”
Nutrition plays an important role in hoof health. According to The Horse, “green pasture is the ideal meal, containing protein, vitamins and minerals, generally in proper balance.” Do not overfeed horses either, as excess weight can weaken a horse’s joints and feet. Owners should also frequently exercise their horses to promote growth within the hoof, maintain the strength, structure and integrity of the hoof, and keep a healthy blood circulation to promote healthy feet.
Unfortunately, wet conditions can also damage a horse’s hooves. When hooves are exposed to excess moisture, they can swell and crack, which will ruin the hoof structure and make it vulnerable to injury or infection. Don’t make the transition from wet to dry too quickly, as this can exacerbate the hooves’ condition. What owners can do to ease horses into the transition is move them from wet bedding to slightly drier bedding, and regularly clean horses’ hooves in addition to incorporating regular exercise. The less moisture a horse’s hooves are immersed in, the stronger and sturdier they will become.
With some of these tips and tricks, horse owners can be better prepared for summer conditions and take better care of their horses’ hooves. You can always ask a farrier or your veterinarian about what would be the best option for your specific situation.