This is my mare's situation, but I think it's similar to a lot of horses out there:
1. She's barefoot. I'd really like to keep her hooves tough. I've heard of putting Turpentine, Keratex, and Iodine on hooves to harden them. Which would you recommend, and how do you apply it?
2. She tends to chip her hooves in the summer, and get cracks in the lower area of the hoof wall. I always thought it was because it's dry, so I put Rain Maker all over the hooves (including the sole and coronet band) in the summer. How do I keep her hooves from getting too dry, but keeping them strong and hard on the bottom so she can go barefoot?
I already started her on some supplements, so don't worry about the nutritional side of it. Also, I realize keeping her regularly trimmed helps do. My questions are really about what products to use, and how.
Thanks for your help!
If she's chipping and cracking, there may be too much weight on her hoof wall. Do you have pictures of her feet?
my OTTB mare that i got at the end of may came with front shoes, i had them pulled the day after she got to me and within a few weeks her feet were chipping, cracking, and just looked crappy, she wasn't lame at all, I started her on BioFlax 20 - Horse Hoof Supplements from SmartPak Equine and after a month or 2 her feet looked great, my even my farrier comments on how great her feet look
First off, this is not my horse's hoof, nor does the picture belong to me. I don't have a picture at the moment, so I found one online that looks similar to my mare's during the summer months. It's not this bad, but I don't want it to GET this bad:
I like Hoofmaker or Hoof flex. Make sure you apply the product to the coronary band, it absorbs best there. Could be chipping do to the terrain you are riding on, the horse's diet, the way they are trimmed and how often, or some horses just seem to have brittle hooves. It also has to do with climate. If you can't solve the problem, you could try a pair of hoof boots and see if that helps.
First things to look at are the current trim of the feet, for which we need to have actual pictures. Side, front, back and sole are best. As well as a square side, front and back shot. If you can't get all of them, some will at least give us an idea of the actual shape of the hooves. You say she gets regular trims, but are they correct?
Then look at your diet. Too rich? Minerals needed? You can have beautifully trimmed hooves, but if the new growth isn't healthy, the battle will never be won. You say that is looked after also.
Lastly, terrain. Not likely the terrain is too rough; generally, hooves will harden on rough ground and weaken on soft ground.
Coating the hooves is not the answer. That can actually cause more problems as it can close the porous structure of the hoof. If you really want to put something on, there are creams you can buy that you rub on just the coronary band. Actually, studies have been done that indicate just the massaging of the coronary band can be beneficial, while the creams do little or nothing.
Buy all the products you want, but the answers are in the basic internal health and proper trimming.
We tend to forget that when a horse's hoof chips, it is self trimming. Topical applications are useless as the hoof wall is comprised of dead cells, like our finger nails.
Strong, tough soles & frogs(& internal structures) come with good diet, management and living & working on the terrain you want the horse to be conditioned to. They need to *grow* strong & thick.
If your horse is not/not yet 'conditioned' or otherwise in a healthy state to go bare comfortably on what you want to ride her on, invest in a set(usually just need fronts) of hoof boots or such, so she can move comfortably & therefore build the strength. Generally that should be the only 'products' you really need on your horse's feet.
Check out Mayfield Barehoof Care Centre Home Page & Iron Free Hoof as these are great, among other good ones, and learn all you can about the principles & factors you need to consider to keep her hooves strong & healthy.
My gelding had the same problem, his were just generally brittle hooves. I put him on biotin and his feet have been brilliant ever since! it is the best thing ive found for feet :)
Thank you everyone for your help! One thing I hadn't thought of is getting her used to the kind of terrain I want her sound on. I had never thought of it in that way! And I'll definitely look into the horse boots, just incase. Thank you!
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