Although summer can be conducive to more and better exercise for horses, summer weather is not always kind to the horse's hooves. In fact, unless hooves are checked and picked regularly, infection and breakdown of hooves can develop rapidly in warm, damp weather.
During summer months, the combination of warm weather and rain can lead to softening of horse hooves, which can cause more serious problems. New window.
During summer months, the combination of warm weather and rain can lead to softening of horse hooves, which can cause more serious problems.
When hooves weaken from being too damp, cracks may occur, allowing infection-causing microbes to move deeper into the horse’s foot. Preventing this not only saves an animal from pain and distress, but it also can save the owner’s checkbook.
Prompt treatment of hoof issues is vital. If left untreated, a mild infection can quickly progress into something much more serious.
What horse owners should look for:
The animal favoring one foot or seems like it is experiencing discomfort when walking.
Is the hoof overgrown?
Are there visible cracks, infection (including foul smell), or swelling?
According to Utah State University Extension Service, horse owners can be proactive when it comes to preventing hoof problems in their horses by doing the following:
- Maintain balanced, proper sized hooves for horses. Keep hooves free of defects.
- Keep corrals clean and as dry as possible, with no mud holes for moisture.
- Provide adequate nutrition and exercise.
- Trim/shoe on a regular and appropriate schedule with a competent farrier.
- For non-use or light use unshod horses, trim hooves every 10-12 weeks (rasping flares every two weeks will aid in proper hoof care and shape between regular farrier visits) or shoe every 6-8 weeks.
- Trim and square new foals’ toes at a few weeks of age.
- Train foals/horses to stand for shoeing.
- Clean out hooves daily.
- Treat thrush if needed with commercial anti-thrush product or with a 1 to 10 part mixture of either bleach or Lysol and water.
- Avoid extended use of hoof polishes.
- Use hoof moisturizers as needed.
- Allow plenty of lead time in scheduling your farrier and pay promptly for services.
- Provide a clean/safe/lighted/ area for the farrier's work
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