With wet, muddy conditions upon us we must turn our attention to our horses' feet. Whilst some horses' hooves cope well during the winter, many do not and the damage in some cases may be undetectable until it is too late. As any owner knows, foot abscesses, white line disease, thrush and broken hooves, amongst other problems, are difficult to manage and can be costly too; sometimes causing loss of shoes, severe pain and long-term lameness.
Improving your horse's feet comes about by managing the foot you see in front of you and ensuring the new horn that grows is strong and resilient. To do this, follow these simple steps:
- Pick out the feet twice a day
- Clean off the mud whenever possible (when coming in from the field, after a hack, etc).
- Let the feet dry by standing the horse on clean, dry bedding or rubber matting if stabled (prolonged contact with dirty bedding weakens the horn).
- Spray with 1:2 parts iodine solution:surgical spirit mix (you can get this from the practice so please just speak to the dispensary or your vet - it costs just £6.30 for 500ml, which lasts a long time!)
- Feed an appropriate hoof supplement, ensuring it has a good quality source of biotin (you can buy this from the practice too - it works out at 96p per day)
For the long term effects you will need to be patient - it takes 6-12 months for a hoof to grow from coronet band to the ground, so your commitment is a long-term investment but one with a great reward for both you and your horse!
Please speak to your vet and your farrier to discuss appropriate foot management for your individual horse or pony.
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