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Cleaning hooves, overdoing it?
I am less than one year to horse ownership. I keep two horses on my place. I have a small pond where my horses love to graze. Daily, their hooves and ankles are caked in mud. So, daily, I pick out the mud from the sole and wash the outer hoof and sole with the water hose under medium pressure. I then feed and stall them for about an hour, so their feet dry out. About once a week, I use soap and water and brush to clean the hooves.
I am having no problems with their hooves. My farrier regularly trims them.
Am I going overboard by washing them everyday? Could I cause long term problems or will the cleanliness promote long term health?
It could cause the hooves to become too soft, which is not good. It can cause weakness in the hoof wall, and the soles to become soft and more sensitive. I just wait for any mud to dry and brush it off, unless I'm going to a show or about to clip the hair just above the hooves.
Thanks for the advice. How often should I wash them with clean water?
I am worried about the mud/dirt causing thrush and seedy toe.
I will have to find the article, but I read a study which stated that allowing some dirt to pack into the hooves was actually a good thing! It provides a little more shock absorption. They recommended cleaning hooves once a week.
I might refrain from washing the hooves so often, but I don't think daily cleaning (picking, brushing) will do any harm. :) I still pick my boy's hooves daily.
If the hooves are in good condition, the horse has proper nutrition, and gets enough exercise, there shouldn't be any problems. Thrush can occur if the horse is living in wet, mucky conditions for a prolonged period of time, but it's usually related to a structural defect. I have never washed hooves just to clean them.
To prevent hoof illness, make sure your farrier is doing a well-balanced trim. Provide good nutrition. And make sure the horse gets adequate exercise.
ETA: I don't think daily picking is a bad thing at all. And that would allow you to notice any changes in the hoof early on.
I pick my boy's hooves daily (mud or no) and giving their feet a chance to try out daily can help reduce the likelihood of thrush significantly and is what a vet or farrier would ask of you if thrush was a concern. There's no harm in doing as you are if you're happy to do it. On the flip side, you could probably reduce it to once or twice a week and still have healthy, happy horses too.
Can they get out of the mud and hang in a drier non manure/urine area? I understand your concern but I do think you are over doing it a tad....I usually only pick when I ride and over 25 years of horses, no problems.
Thank you for replying. Yes, I have 5 acres for them. The pond is in one area and stays pretty muddy only in that area. The rest of the time (unless it has been raining) it is pretty dry. And, of course, I have a barn with a wood chip covered dirt floor, that they come and go freely. I only stall them after feeding. They seem to like it because they tend to nap after the afternoon feeding. I keep them stalled for about an hour a day total after the afternoon feeding/foot washing. They roam otherwise. After these replies, I guess I will cut the foot washing to once or twice weekly and just pick them out daily.
And, in fairness, my horse was out in a pasture with three ponds at a friend's place for 9 weeks without ever being caught and groomed and his feet were perfectly fine other than being due for a trim when I picked him up. Horses did manage to survive without us, some better than others of course.
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