Your Cleaning Guide for Horses Hooves
Keeping your horses’ hooves clean is an essential part of their daily care routine, and while it may be second nature to many it could be less familiar to new owners.
This is why we have put together this handy how-to guide, full of tips and useful advice.
10 steps to cleaning your horse’s hooves
The process for removing dirt and debris from the inside of your horse’s hooves is known as ‘picking out’ the feet, using a hoof pick. Some of the finest hoofs picks will have a small stiff brush attached, which can be used to brush away loose dust and dirt once most of the mud or dirt has been removed.
Here is our simple 10-step guide to ensuring your horse’s hooves are thoroughly clean –
- Start by facing your horse’s tail.
- Run your hand nearest the horse down the back of its leg, then gently squeeze just above the fetlock to signal to the horse to lift its hoof. If the horse does not respond, try adding a small amount of extra pressure using your thumbnail.
- Hold the hoof with the hand closest to the horse then use a hoof pick in the other hand and start scraping away any dirt. If this is a hind foot, ensure your arm is positioned in front of the leg , so if the horse kicks out backwards your arm won’t be in danger. For the horse’s front foot your arm needs to be behind the leg.
- Start where the horseshoe ends, besides the bulbs of the heel and scrape any debris out, moving the hoof pick away from you towards the toe of the hoof.
- Scrape firmly over the sole and along the inside of the hoof wall and shoe line until the remaining dirt, rocks and debris are gone.
- Take extra care when removing dirt from the triangular frog (including the central cleft). The frog is a softer tissue than the sole and will be firm without any discharge.
- Now check there are no foreign bodies penetrating the frog or the sole of the hoof. If there is a nail or something similar in the hoof, do not pull it out. This is a potential emergency situation that requires a vet immediately, with an X-ray of the hoof needed to see whether any internal structures are damaged.
- If your horse is shod, check the shoe is secure and there are no risen clenches or loose or missing nails.
- Once completed, gently replace your horse’s foot onto the ground.
- Finally, move onto the next leg and hoof and then repeat this process.
How to clean muddy horses hooves
If you need to clean mud from the outside of your horse’s hooves, first tie him up in a secure place. Then move the dirt from the hoof wall using a stiff brush. If the dirt needs softening, using warm water is more pleasant, effective and less time-consuming than cold water; especially in winter. Ensure you are aware of your horse at all times and do not kneel on the floor when cleaning the hooves or place your hand on the floor as squatting allows you to move quickly out of the horse’s way if they decide to move. If their hooves are wet you will need to allow them to dry naturally. Alternatively, you could wipe them with a towel before applying a hoof conditioner to prevent the hooves from drying and cracking. P.H Winterton would recommend avoiding repeated wetting and drying of the hooves as this can compromise their condition.
How often do horse hooves need cleaning?
Cleaning horses hooves need to be part of your equine daily care routine. In most professional stable yards, horses will have their hooves picked out before leaving the stables. This avoids dragging muck and bedding onto the yard. Horses that are turned out daily will also need to have their hooves picked out after turnout, removing any stones or mud that has been collected while in the field. Horses that live out all the time should have their hooves cleaned and checked once a day as part of their regular health checks.
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