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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Hoof Dressings

Hooves have evolved to manage their own moisture balance.  Feed the horse well, exercise appropriately, facilitate as natural a lifestyle as you can manage. 

Don't waste your money on hoof dressings.  Spend the cash saved on hoof boots if your horse needs them, or setting up your facilities so they can live more naturally.

In drier climates you might want to create a natural watering spot, so your horse can wet their feet as they drink, but don't dress hooves with oils, polishes or other products which can destroy the natural moisture balance in the hoof.  I have actually seen the outer hoof wall break down from these moisturising treatments.

If your horse gets thrush, then by all means treat it, but don't use anything which you wouldn't put on your own skin.  Another horror story - I've seen a horse with chemical burns from a thrush treatment. 

Keep your horse healthy, work them hard, let them live naturally, get the hooves trimmed regularly, avoid hoof dressings - you won't go far wrong and you will save a lot of money!


Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Interesting. I think my boy was showing signs of 'ouchy' being his soles were soft. Our paddocks were mucky muck for a few weeks with the major snow melt we had..we had to stall at night to allow their hooves to dry out for at least 7 hrs. Wouldnt a dressing help with that? Or not really? What is the best option for during those weeks of mess that are impossible to avoid. We clean like crazy but with a big snow melt, followed by was WET. He seems to be back to normal now that weather has been better/drier.

Lucy Priory said...

Let the feet dry out, treat thrush if they get it.

But I generally find that a healthy hoof that is working hard can cope with a fair amount of wet. However if the hoof is at all compromised and never gets a chance to dry out then you have an issue - but you should relieve cause not treat symptoms and no dressings don't help.

If you stall, keep the bedding immaculate - don't let your horse stand in urine which breaks down keratin.

I used to rent a field which was very wet and marshy. The horses had access to a dry loafing area and worked their butts really hard. Apart from some thrush they did ok.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Yes, I'm always looking for thrush and asking my trimmer.
OK-so I have Laz working out 3-4 days a week (it's as often as I can get there) and he's on 24/7 turnout with the exception of stalling him during those mucky days to allow to air out. Yes, stalls are bedding/matted and kept as close to immaculate as possible..its the cleanest barn i know. Thanks!!!

Dom said...


Lucy Priory said...

Kristen - stick your fingers into the collateral grooves either side of the frog, work them round the whole frog area - if they smell of men't socks (sorry fellas), old trainers or the standard thrushy smell then treat hooves for thrush - and wash your hands really thoroughly afterwards or you will get athletes foot - but not necessarily on your feet.......

North East Equestrian said...

Loving reading this blog! We all in store try to remove shoes and be as natural as possible. Sadly my big lad cannot cope unshod on the front but it has been a miracle worker for hind legs!
Great advice and great read!

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