There are many signs to look for to know if your horses feet are healthy.
Have you had a close look at your horses feet lately? Do you REALLY know what’s going on with your horses feet?
We can start on the outside and make our way in.
The hoof wall can tell you a novel of what’s going on with your horse.
Stress lines, Founder lines, stress rings, grass rings, growth rings… under many names but I refer to them as stress lines.
The best way to describe these are ripples running around the wall horizontally.
These are caused from systemic stress in the horse or occasionally be from mechanical forces such as poor hoof balance, injuries or skeletal/muscular issue’s.
Normally if it’s mechanical forces it would be a change bigger than a small ripple on the hoof wall.
Stress lines can come and go or be consistent.
Not only can they move horizontally but they can also fan down towards the heel of the hoof.
Chips, crumbly wall, splits, powdery wall,
Cracks in the hoof wall from the ground up can be caused from systemic stress as well as bacteria infecting the hoof wall.
Some bacteria you would know as white line disease or seedy toe.
Does your hoof wall follow one angle or does it deviate angles as you go down the wall?
This like stress lines and can be a cause of systemic stress but mainly from mechanical stress. It often shows your laminae is not coping and is struggling to keep a well connected hoof wall to the pedal bone.
Next we go inside the hoof and take a look at our frog.
I'v always said horses have 5 hearts, one in the body and one in each foot. Each one is important to pump blood throughout the body to help the development and growth of healthy hooves.
Is it nice, big and plump? I hope so! If not, no worries. Fixing it starts here.
If your frog is narrow, small, pinched in at the back, you have too much movement at the heels, smelly, black/grey, soft and sensitive. Then I'm sorry to say, it's probably unhealthy.
Bacteria, systemic stress and poor mechanical hoof function is the biggest cause for a poor quality frog. The frog is often over looked. The role it provides to the body makes It the most important function on the road to a healthy hoof.
We then come to our soles, soles can play a huge factor in how a horse performs on their feet.
Horses feet that don’t tend to perform well are ones that are thin, soft (moves under thumb pressure), flat & level with the frog (no collateral sulcus), a horse that is footy on hard & uneven ground and the most alarming sole to come across is a drop sole where it's convex.
How’s your horses white lines?
Poor white lines can be caused from many factors, but the main cause is systemic stresses and shoeing/trimming times left too long.
What to look for you ask? Well..
Is the white line is 3mm wide or greater, a feathered look about it, infection and bacteria which appears black, red or orange throughout the white line, stones & dirt packed in between the sole and wall? Can't see with a shoe in the way? ask your farrier for an update on your white line at your next appointment.
Now for the good news!
How can my horse grow healthy hooves?
The process of restoring hoof strength and integrity takes two things..
A supportive balanced nutrition.
Balanced, level & consistent hoof care by a Farrier or Trimmer.
The hoof wall is made up of approximately 90% Keratin (protein).
What is keratin?
Keratin is a combination of key amino acids such as Cysteine and Methionine.
Not just keratin, for a 100% nutritionally balanced hoof we need vitamins and minerals too.
These include Omega 3s, Iodine, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Zinc, Methionine & Biotin.
Making sure your horse receives all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids will help your horse improve the hoof quality!
Send me a message to find out what minerals and vitamins your horse is most likely lacking.
How can my horse maintain a healthy hoof shape?
Keeping a level and balanced trim means the hoof wall is fully supported so that there is not added uneven pressure put on the wall as it grows or weakens. Making it harder for bacteria to try to fight its way in.
Maintaining a level and balanced trim also means that your horses skeleton will also be straight and balanced. Creating no added pressure on the hoof capsule as the hoof wall grows out.
Consistency is key! Keep your farrier dates around the 5 week mark.
If your horse is older and doesn’t grow much, sure, extend it.
If you're competing every weekend and are competing at a high level, shorten it to 4-4.5 weeks. You would be surprised how much of a change that actually goes on in a hoof in just 4 weeks let alone 5!
Happy hacker, paddock mate or low level social rider? 5 weeks will be perfect for you.
A quality qualified farrier or trimmer can help you with this.
Send me a message to book a consultation or be sure to speak with your farrier about what steps they might be making to improve the health of your horses hooves.
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