Hot hooves, cold hooves - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-18-2020, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Hot hooves, cold hooves

Those of you who have seen pictures of my Pony will not be surprised to know that when we had the equine first aid clinic a few months back, I paid particular attention to the talk about laminitis. One thing the instructor said was to get to know your horses' hooves, and what's normal for them.

So I've been paying extra attention to everyone's hooves. One thing that I have noticed that I don't understand is that they will have hot hooves, then cold hooves, then warm hooves; or sometimes the hooves on the left side will be warm but the ones on the right will be cool, etc. There's just so much variation that I'm having a hard time getting to know what is "normal" for any of them. Today, for instance, Teddy's hooves seemed really hot, but he had no noticeable pulse and hasn't had any lameness, so I guess it must be in the range of normal for him? Out of all of them, his hoof temperature seems to fluctuate the most.

Does anyone else notice their horse hoof temperatures? If so, is what I'm seeing normal? Two years and three horses into horse ownership, I still feel like sometimes I know nothing...

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post #2 of 6 Old 02-18-2020, 05:37 PM
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I check at approximately the same time of each morning. Otherwise I can get variation and was taught earlier morning is more accurate.
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-18-2020, 05:37 PM
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I'd also like to know the answer to this question. I've noticed the same thing before in very very sound horses.

I will say, though, that sometimes something might feel cold in one situation and hot in another. A lot of temperature sensitivity is relative. If I sit around the house under a blanket all day and then stick my hand in my fish tank, it feels pretty cool to me. But if I stay outside while it's snowing for a few hours and then come back in and stick my hand in my fish tank, it feels a lot warmer than my hands do. But I know that both times the water was 78 degrees - my tank heater and thermometer both said so. There are widely repeated studies that show if you keep your hand in ice cold water for a while, eventually it will start feeling less cold than it started, and vice versa.

What I'm saying is, sometimes it's hard to tell what is "actually" warm, what just "feels" warm, and what is normal for the horse. But I'm still curious about other peoples' answers.
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-18-2020, 05:49 PM
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I was shocked the first time I was shown how to "check for heat"- the hooves all felt very warm to me, and the person showing me laughed and said, "well, she's alive so it's not going to be stone cold." I also tend to "run hot" in my own body, so touching any other person or animal always feels weirdly warm to me and I never know if that's just because my hand is hot to the touch and heats other surfaces up. With my horses, where they are standing (sunny or shady; grass or gravel; snow or stall mat) seems to make more of a difference than you'd expect in what feels warmer or cooler. I like the idea about checking at the same time of day.

I think it might have been @Hondo who was checking his gelding's feet with an actual heat gun? That seems pretty smart if you have that equipment and/or a serious situation that requires accuracy.

Anyone else remember being a kid and having your temp checked on your forehead with a thermometer that was like a thin piece of film, where the color bars would appear as it heated up and read your temp? I almost wonder if something like that would be useful, if they even still make those things.

Curious to hear more "scientific" answers though!
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post #5 of 6 Old 02-18-2020, 06:09 PM
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Like boots said check early morning same time. Think it's normal to have fluctuations in hoof temps, during the day.

I never check hooves for heat unless there's a good reason,like horse is lame. If there sound I figure all is good.
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post #6 of 6 Old 02-18-2020, 06:20 PM
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I have a digital automotive temperature gun. I havenít used it for years, lol

Ditto Boots to try and check hoof heat at the same time every day, morning being better as the horse has been at rest.

In terms of degree of warmth - my observations:

1. Every horse is different and the health of that horse plays a part.

2. Outside temperature plays a role.

3. My metabolic horses hooves were/are the most fickle (up and down temperatures).

4. If hooves are hot, then health issues may have already set in and itís time to get the vet involved. Hereís where knowing how to take digital pulse comes in handy, so one has something to tell the vet:)



Cold hooves:

1.Sometimes thatís ok in any horse. Rusty, my healthy horse, has had cold hooves in the morning after a below freezing night and he didnít move around much during the night.

2. However - my lameness once told me, if hooves go three consecutive days feeling like ice, thereís a circulation problem and I needed to call him. This was when we were discussing my metabolic horses.

Toward Dukeís end time, his hooves were nearly always cold. He had strangulating lipomas and metabolic issues, so it was clear his circulation was failing him.
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