When we think of horses, we often think of speed, power, and elegance. However, supporting all this beauty and potential are four important things—hooves! Lack of proper hoof care can lead to a host of health problems and can even leave horses lame.
Trimming hooves is the primary means of maintaining hoof health.1 Hooves grow out just like human nails,2 and trimming them helps keep a horse balanced and nimble while also preventing the hoof from cracking or breaking. Experts recommend that hooves be trimmed every four to eight weeks.3
Horses may be shod (fitted with horseshoes) depending on what the horse will be used for, the conditions in which it will be working, and its own physical health.3 Horseshoes are made of many materials, including rubber, plastic, and metal, and can be nailed or glue onto the hoof.4
There is a saying: “no feet, no horse.”3 While healthy feet certainly allow a horse to do what it is asked to do, horse owners must also keep in mind that healthy feet also allow a horse, to, well, be a horse!
- Margaret Ross, “Horse Hoof Care,” North Caroline State University Cooperative Extension, 2015, https://jones.ces.ncsu.edu/2015/05/horse-hoof-care-2/
- E. L. Johnson and R. L. Asquith, Anatomy and Topography of the Equine Foot, AS-28, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 1997, http://mysrf.org/pdf/pdf_horse/h1.pdf
- “Basic Hoof Care for Horses,” UF/IFAS St. Lucie County Extension, n.d., http://stlucie.ifas.ufl.edu/ag_horses.html
- E. L. Johnson, “Techniques and Technology in Hoof Care,” 2004, http://cflag.ifas.ufl.edu/documents/2004EquineInstit/HoofCare.pdf
Photo credits: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS
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