Why Healthy Hooves Are So Important

The overall condition of a horse is mostly dependent on the health of its hooves. Healthy hooves are so important because they absorb the heavy impact of the animals weight when it stands, trots, gaits, or runs. The hooves also provide the proper grip on road surfaces and protect the bones and tissues located within the hoof capsule.

What Is A Lame Horse?

Unhealthy hooves automatically result in a lame horse.
Horse lameness is the inability of the horse to perform its normal movements due to an injury or disease of its muscles, bones, internal organs, nerves, tendons or metabolism. But most horse experts say that the one major factor that really affects a horses overall health is the condition of its foot.

One concludes that a horse is lame when it:

* Has difficulty keeping its balance

* Is limping

* Drags its toes

* Holds one foot up

* Performs or runs hesitantly or slowly

* Bobs its head

* Has difficulty turning smoothly

Hoof Problems That May Cause Lameness

Extra attention is required to address hoof problems. A number of foot ailments that a horse may encounter include:

* Cracks

Symptoms: the presence of cracks on the hoofs surface in which three types may appear, namely sand, grass or horizontal cracks.

Causes: hereditary, long hoof trimming intervals resulting in long toes, dry weather, shifting cold and dry environment

Cure: application of hoof moisturizers, regular hoof trimming, good nutrition, providing vitamins like biotin, iodine, and zinc

* Inadequate Hoof Trimming and Inferior Shoeing

Symptoms: stress and trauma on hoof bones, joints, and tendons

Causes: unbalanced hooves, short toes and long heels, or long toes and collapsed heels

Cure: proper fitting of horseshoes, regular intervals when trimming hooves

* Abscess

Symptoms: extreme lameness, swelling, the presence of pus on the sole

Causes: trauma, bacterial infection, bruising

Cure: providing antibiotics, adequate nutrition, removal of the abscess, soaking foot in Epsom salt and warm water

* Thrush

Symptoms: the presence of a malodorous black fluid within the frog (middle part of the hoof), lameness

Cause: wet and dirty surroundings

Cure: apply antibiotics, keeping barns, stalls, and sheds clean and dry

* Hot Nail

Symptoms: lameness

Cause: horseshoe nail hitting a soft and sensitive part of the hoof

Cure: applying antiseptic to the wound, tetanus booster injection, bandaging the injured foot

Care For the Hooves

Having healthy hooves are so important, that applying preventive care is the best way to maintain proper hoof condition. The number of ways that hoof maintenance can be accomplished includes:

* Scheduled Farrier Visits

Regular trimming of hooves is a must, and the visits may increase if an injury or ailment is monitored and cured.

* Proper nutrition

High-quality hay, vitamin supplements, and clean water should always be provided to maintain good health and achieve faster recovery if a hoof is being cured.

* Clean Environment

A clean and regularly sanitized shed, stall, or barn should be maintained to avoid hoof infection coming from harmful fungi or bacteria.

* Immunization

Vaccination and booster shots should be regularly done to help the animal fight infection in case it would be exposed to an unclean surrounding or sudden changes in weather or temperature.

Having healthy hooves is very important because the horse depends on them to survive. Unhealthy hooves may lead to severe lameness which, often results in the need for euthanasia if treatment of the problem is ignored or delayed.