Dry Brittle Horse Hooves

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Shoes on Too Long - Dry, Brittle Hooves
  2006 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Dear Cherry,

    My horse had shoes on a couple of weeks too long so her hoofs were getting brittle and were starting to break and chip.  We have had the shoes off for two weeks now but the hoofs are still dry and breaking and she is almost flat footed.

    This doesn't seem to bother our horse when riding.  Should we stop riding her?  Can we or should we put shoes on her at this time. (there really isn't much hoof to nail into)  or should we let mother nature take its course.  What can we do to moisten her hoofs?

M.D.


Dear M.D.,

    When shoes are left on a horse's hooves too long, the shoes become loose and often pull off large hunks of the too-long hoof when the shoes finally do come off.  When a horse's shoes are pulled and the hooves are left unshod, the hooves generally break around the edges up to some extent, especially where weakened by the nail holes, until the hoof tissues can adapt to being barefoot.  Like if you suddenly started going barefoot, it would take a while for your feet to "toughen" up.  It might take some horses up to a year to develop a tough "barefoot" hoof.

Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill    It's important that a barefoot horse be trimmed regularly and properly to keep the feet balanced.  The edges of the hoof should be rounded to minimize chipping and cracking.  The toe should be squared off somewhat and rounded as well.  If your mare is comfortable being ridden, you can keep riding her barefoot, but minimize riding on sharp gravel or abrasive surfaces like concrete.

    Exercise promotes blood flow in the hoof and is the best way to moisten hooves.  Often, hooves will crack not because they are too dry, but because they have been too wet.  Horses in a consistently dry environment have better feet.  To be sure your horse's hooves are growing at an optimum rate, make sure the horse is getting a balanced diet. 

SU-PER Farrier's Supplement by Gateway is a supplement that can help undernourished feet grow stronger (it also improves the hair coat, including the mane and tail).

  2006 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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