I am planning on buying some hoof polish or conditioner for my mare (if I can find some) because she has a few cracks in her hooves. She wears shoes on all four feet. Recently I read that you have to be careful when applying a hoof polish or conditioner to hooves with shoes on because of the nails from the shoe. It said to not put polish/conditioner on the hoof where the nails are... I'm just wondering if that's true? It would make sense if it was because you don't want the nails to get "glued" to the hoof, but I also know many people use hoof polish/conditioner and their horses have shoes on...
I can't comment on the shoes being a problem, but I've always used hoof heal (I believe that's what its called), and it worked wonders on cracks and helped with chipping. It made the hooves look good.
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Here are some things I would recommend.
Feed this supplement
--> Biotin Crumbles
and use any of these conditioners/dressings
--> Hooflex Conditioner
--> Fiebings Hoof Dressing (this one has a pretty fowl smell)
--> Rain Maker
--> Mane 'n Tail Hoofmaker
I have used all listed in the past and present and could not have asked for better results.
Also, in reference to the shoes being an issue....I do not know where you got that info from but it totally bogus.....applying a hoof conditioner or dressing should have no effect at all on the shoes.
I think the first step in improving the quality of hooves is good nutrition/well balanced diet, and a regular schedule of trimming and resetting the shoes.
As for hoof polishes and conditioners, I would stay away from the polishes. I have never used them, but I think that they are mainly cosmetic, and are probably drying to the hooves. I do think that hoof conditioners have benefits though. I really like Effol Hufsalbe (hoof ointment).
My horses are all shod front and back, and I apply the ointment all over the hoof wall. I have never had any problems with it around the nail holes. However, I always brush the hoof walls with a stiff bristle brush to make sure they are clean before applying the ointment. I think that is a really important step because you can trap the dirt and bacteria underneath the ointment and it will just keep building up and then that can lead to weakening the hoof walls.
On last thing, it can take about a year for the entire hoof to grow out, so it does take time to notice a difference in the hooves.
Okay, thanks everyone for your help :)
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You are going to want to invest in hoof supplements and a conditioner. A horse's outside appearance is directly related to their nutrition. You have to start from the inside and supplement that process with topical treatments. Hoof polishes are purely cosmetic and can dry out your horse's hooves, thus why they are used sparingly only at shows.
A horse's hoof is dependent on natural moisture and weather conditions. In extremely dry climates it will be important to add oils to help keep the horse's hoof from drying up and becoming brittle. When applying oils to a horses hoof, it is often recommended to only apply it to the area just below the coronet band. This will allow any natural moistures to be absorbed as well.
The opposite end of the spectrum is a very moist, wet environment. The horse's hoof structure when living in damp environments will weaken. There are hoof conditioners that are used to harden a horse's hoof in times of extra dampness. Thrush will be found more often in this environment due to the increased bacterial breeding moist environment creates. It is common to use a thrush treatment formula when hardening up a horses hooves because it treats the extra moisture and treats the infected area. When applying a hardener, it is common practice to apply it directly to the bottom of the hoof.
I have also never heard about the watching for nail holes thing. Complete bogus.
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