It’s pretty common for a horse owner to think that cleaning out a horse’s foot is the job of a good farrier. But doing this regularly can prevent a number of common hoof problems. Adding a rider’s weight to a horse with rocks and such stuck in its hooves, for example, can cause undue stress on the horse and trigger injuries. So we thought we’d share a few things about when to do this, and give you a glimpse into what we do with our own horses.
First, anytime you’re about to head out, be sure to check the horse’s hooves for rocks and other objects and pick out anything that shouldn’t be there. Do the same thing when you come back from the ride. Another good time is when you put the horse away for the night and when you bring him out the next morning. (Basically, you can’t check too often.) Anytime you check the horse’s hooves, check for abnormal heat while you’re there, as this can be a sign of illness. And finally, take a couple of minutes to clear out anything else that might be stuck to his hooves, including manure, and check for signs of thrush (you’ll notice the terrible smell). Then be sure to clean off the entire surface of the sole using a brush. If you see any punctures or cracks or other issues, be sure to tend to those before putting the horse at more risk by taking him out for the day. Do this every day and you’ll be helping your horse stay healthy for a long time to come. Happy riding!