Hoof Moisture Content Plays a Major Role in Foot Quality

Shorter trimming intervals, moisture barriers and proper supplementation can aid farriers in regulating hoof moisture



Pictured Above: Bell boots are frequently recommended by farriers, but when left on indefinitely they don’t allow the hoof to dry out and naturally regulate moisture levels.

Farrier Takeaways

  • The hoof’s ability to regulate moisture may be more influential than anything else when it comes to hoof quality.
  • A topical barrier can protect hooves from fluctuations in environmental moisture levels.
  • When farriers choose products to apply to a horse’s foot, hoof wall expansion and contraction should be considered.

Veteran farrier and founder of the Crawford, Neb., Butler Professional Farrier School, Dr. Doug Butler is credited with saying, “Hoof quality may relate more to the hoof’s ability to regulate moisture content than anything else.” Although Lafayette, Ind., farrier Danvers Child jokes that he and Butler, both members of the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame, sometimes have disagreements, they see eye-to-eye on this point; the key topic of client discussion should center around regulating the moisture content in hooves. The moisture content in hooves can change hourly, with hydration level fluctuating as much as 3% within one day. This was the focus of Child’s presentation on moisture regulation, which he shared at the International Hoof-Care Summit during a How-To Hoof-Care Product Knowledge Clinic sponsored by SmartPak. Child is a farrier consultant for the equine supplement provider.

Frequent Transitions Can Create Problems

“We’ll bring them in from a wet, dewy pasture, throw them into a stall with kiln-dried shavings and you can just hear the moisture sucking out of that foot,” Child says…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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