I really want to know about this... what is the best product to keep the hoofs hard and what makes them soft? I live in Florida and it's very hot right now. My horse does NOT have shoes and her feet are in good condition, minus a few cracks here and there. I use Hoof care in a purple and white bottle to kill fungus and I also have a hoof conditioner that I've started using. It's very thick and goey compared to the other one. I don't want to make her hoofs too soft using the conditioner, so I'm not sure what the right balance is. Any suggestions?
Good hooves come from a good diet, care/trimming, and exercise. Topical hoof conditioners can make them look nice and prevent some surface cracks, but they won't make your horse's feet any better. We always keep it simple for our barefoot mares, and my advice is to skip the conditioners and save yourself some $$s.
I'm not quite sure about anything to put on the hoofs but for my horses to make their feet stronger I have found that Farriers Formula has worked like a charm!!! Horses that are constantly lame without shoes have actually come out of their shoes and are perfectly sound! It also reduces the size of cracks and most dissapear. That is all I am familiar with when it comes to horses feet. Hope you find something that works for you.
I think most conditioners, like the gooey one you describe, make the hooves moisturized, much like our hand lotions. To make a hoof stronger, I believe feeding a biotin supplement is the common thing to do.
I'm not sure about the possibility of hoof softening, sorry.
Rainmaker is very good to moisturize. And Tuff Stuff works to harden them. And can put Venice Turpentine on soles to toughen up, or soak in Epsom Salts too.
You don't really want hooves to become soft because when the hooves are soft is when cracks start. To prevent hooves from chipping and become cracked you can apply a clear product called Tuff Stuff. It's supposed to work by sealing in moisture. You can apply moisturizing hoof conditioners such as Hoof Flex(my favorite) which helps balance the moisture, or you can overfill the water trough so the ground stays wet. Hard hooves are good hooves.
Years ago I used Rainmaker on my horse's hooves until I found out it contains Pine Tar which is actually a drying agent. I switched to HoofMaker with good success. If my horse's hooves needed toughening from to much ground moisture I used straight Iodine on them.
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Hoof treatments (oils,moisturisers etc) will largely interfere with the natural balance of the hoof and its ability to breathe. In general they are not necessary. They actually can cause problems as in any occasion where you play with the balance of one thing, you will will affect the balance of something else.
The biggest issues with hooves moisture content is significant and quick changes in enviroment. So for example standing in wet fields and then coming into shavings which suck moisture very aggressively from the hoof.
In terms of fungus - you should not generally have issues. If you do its a symptom of a lack of general foot health. If you do use anti-fungal applications then always ensure its not necrotising, otherwise you are simply killing tissue which remains for bacteria etc to thrive on. Certain natural oils such at Tea Tree, Manuka Honey and Iron Oxide are all very effective anti-fungal mixes, as is silver spray (but be careful with the levels of citric acid in the spray as this can be very drying and hardening on the sole)
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