What your farrier wants you to know – Hoof Care Basics – Cowgirl Quick Tips
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Hoof Care Basics. What your farrier wants you to know!
Though my willowy 6ft-100lb frame may not scream ‘farrier’ type to you; I’ve done my fair share of time hunched over with a hoof in my lap. Since I was 16, I’ve been around the country and met several hoof moguls and learned a lot by talking to them and observing their work.
A few weeks ago I asked one of them this question, “What is one thing you wish horse owners would do different in relation to hoof care?” He kind of smirked (the way a sun beaten, cow-kicked farrier does) and said bluntly I wish they’d just take care of the foot till I got back.
There you have it – not only my biased assumption or observation. Straight from the horses mouth – Just take care of the foot!
From here we discussed the common products and tools we each had in our pick up and compiled a list. This list can become a kit that keeps the hooves in the best condition till your farrier gets back with you.
This is a good barn kit or kit to have in your trailer on the road. Whether or not your horse is barefoot or shod – you can do a lot with this humble collection.
In order of necessity:
This should be mainly chisel shaped – do not go for a round cylinder type of tip. The chisel shape is optimal for getting the tight places between the heel bulbs, frog as well as addressing any hoofwall/white line separate. Cheap tack store hoof picks with a plastic handle and flimsy bristles on the end will not to an effective job of cleaning the hoof.
A stiff wire brush that can aggressively flake away dirt and help exfoliate any surface tissue needing some encouragement. It should last you several years if you keep it dry and there is no rust. This is a very important tool to use before any thrush treatment, because you want the hoof as clean and dry as possible.
The easiest and most effective I’ve found is ‘Thrush Buster’ . It’s not my first choice necessarily but for most people it’s better than doing nothing.
For a natural and very effective solution for fixing thrush and excess moisture I recommend Spray on a freshly cleaned hoof.
It’s not a matter of when your horse will have an injury or condition related to the feet – but when. I highly recommend a standard light for helping draw out abscesses, inflammation and heat. ( See here for a post on abscesses, and here for inflammation, and here for healing. )
By far the with nitrile type material have been the preference for me over the years. The last a long time, provide good digit mobility and are not bulky to work with.
Hellar Red Tang all the way. It’s not dangerously sharp but it’s effectiveness lasts through many horses. Don’t go super cheap on your, if you invest in a decent one plus add a good handle you can ideally keep on top of your trimming cycles. (No, you don’t have to be a trimmer, you can watch enough videos to keep your horse flare free. Or say your horse looses a shoe you can clean things up a bit. Or your trimmer is booked out a few extra weeks and can’t get to you. A rasp is a good thing to have.)
Its ergonomic AND life changing.
All horses will at some point; spring a shoe, burst an abscess, or get a stone bruise. I recommend having at least one of these (if not a pair) with these pads. This will get your horse comfortably through the next time the farrier sees him.
It is an investment but it’s probably cheaper than back surgery. This comes in a lot of colors and its durable and functional. I’ve had mine for about 10 years and never had to replace any parts.
If you have a few of these tools or ideally all of them you will be able to present your farrier with a hoof that is much healthier and easier to maintain. Leaving the hoof to rot from trim to trim esentaiily weakens the entire structure of the hoof. These tools are my time tested, beginner approved favorites. A little responsibility can go a long way – help your farrier out and think about adding some of these into your arsenal !
Cowgirl Quick Tip
move down-and-away with right tool!
If you want a recipe for danger add a horse that won’t stand still + sharp object +impatient human. That equals a gouged eyeball or scraped forearm. You need to use a hoof pick that has a chiseled end, whose body is rigid and won’t bend with leverage. When you are picking out the feet, do it in a DOWN- AND -AWAY motion. Start between the frog and heel and sweep down toward the toe. If the horse moves you can easily drop the hoof and brush the sharp pick out and away from the center of both your bodies. If you really want to go above and beyond get a welding brush to really clean the crevices of the sand and dirt filled hoof.
Additional Resources your farrier would love you to know about:
Great supplement for hoof care code INTEGRATED EQUINE