Between Farrier Visits — Your Role As Part Of The Hoof-Care Team

Checking a horse’s feet should be a regular part of owner chores

As a horse owner, you are the person most responsible for the health and welfare of your horse and its daily care. Even though your farrier may come every 5 to 8 weeks, the horse depends on you to monitor and care for its feet between visits.

If you are riding, training or handling the horse daily, you get a good opportunity to look at its feet. Regular grooming is good for your horse’s coat and regular hoof care is good for its feet.

Pick Them Up And Out

The feet should be picked up and examined each time you do anything with the horse. If you clean them out completely, you can assess the health of the frog and sole. A hoof continually packed with mud and manure is more likely to develop thrush, caused by microbes that thrive in a moist, dark, airless environment.

If your inspection helps you detect the beginnings of thrush (black grime along the edges of the frog with an unmistakable bad odor) you can treat it with a product recommended by your farrier and stop it early.

Heat And Swelling

Picking up and cleaning the feet regularly is not only good for training and good manners — keeping the horse comfortable about having its feet handled — but also gives you a chance to detect an increase of heat in the foot or of heat and/or swelling above the hoof.

If the horse has a serious problem it will be lame. However…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. Her new book, Horse Tales, is available on, and other online retailers.

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