Acknowledgement - I would like to express my
thanks and appreciation to my farrier, Larry
Mullins, for his assistance and advice which
enabled me to write this article.
are a few basic rules of hoof care.
Use a quality hoof care product that does
not have a high petroleum base. When
applying hoof dressing, do not apply it more
than an inch below the coronet band.
Let it flow down the fibers of the hoof by
itself. It is a good idea to remove
hoof black to allow the hoof to breathe and
to allow hoof dressing to penetrate into the
hoof. Control excessive moisture, do
not over bathe or saturate the feet.
Control bacteria and fungus by treating feet
once or twice a week with Betadine. Lime stalls,
paddocks and barn aisles regularly.
picking out feet, clean out the cleft area
around the frog and large debris in the sole
area. Do not pick and erode the sole.
your horse's hoof growth between shoeings.
Inadequate growth may be an indicator of a deficiency which can be
remedied by a hoof growth supplement.
time. If the hoof has grown over the
shoe, you are more than likely overdue.
The same is true for a loose shoe that is
working against the foot. A low angle
or loss of a solid sole structure can be
crippling; do not be afraid to use a pad or
wedge if necessary.
yourself, is that much weight really
necessary? Excessive weight is
cumbersome and hard on the feet.
Re-evaluating shoe weight should be a
Evaluate your terrain and workload; moisture
and show weight; these conditions can be
detrimental to solid, healthy feet.
And, lastly, do not be afraid to talk to
your farrier, he does not bite.
strong, healthy frog should be clean and
triangular with exit grooves at the heels so
that collected dirt can work its way out.
The heels should be soft and growing horn
down at the same angle as the pastern.
The heels should be wide and held open with
a strong bulbous frog. If the heels
are narrow it will restrict the flow of
blood that rushes into the frog with each
step. The frog is a blood pump pumping
blood back up to the legs.
Abnormalities of the Hoof
Contraction is a term used to describe a
condition where the walls of the hoof in the
area of the heel have pressed inward to fill
the gap left by the absence of the frog.
The hoof appears very skinny and this
condition is very painful to the horse. Thrush is the main cause of this condition, but contracted heels can also
be caused by anything that inhibits the outward spread of the hoof.
Contraction can be treated by leaving out the hind nails of the shoe to
increase the ability of the hoof to spread and fitting the shoe fuller to
is a bacterial infestation of the frog and
heel area and may upon extreme cases cause
permanent damage. We have all heard,
"He only has a little thrush."
Thrush hurts! It is a living organism eating away at your horse's
foot and it can ruin him permanently.
brush and clean him all the time. I
even pick the dirt out of his feet!"
Thrush is a micro-organism that lives
without oxygen. It grows actively in
unsanitary conditions in the absence of air
and the presence of decaying matter.
If the hoof is not kept clean so that air
gets to all of the external structures, it
becomes an ideal growth medium. The
dirt can be hidden under parts of the hoof
or shoe so even a clean appearing hoof can
be a thriving colony.
is present at all times in your horse's
digestive system so it is found in the
manure on the ground. Thrush can also
be found in any environment where there is
dark, damp, rotting vegetation or matter
like a pile of old leaves or in a drainage
are a number of defensive measures you can
take. As soon as you realize that your
horse has an infestation of thrush,
treatment should start immediately.
Thrush usually invades the frog,
honeycombing it with tunnels of black
odorous matter. There are many thrush
medications on the market, but one of the
most effective approaches to treating thrush
involves a daily thorough cleaning after
trimming away all the loose or affected
tissue. Have your farrier clean the sulcus
or V-shaped channel outlining the frog so that it is free of all loose or
dead tissue. The underhoof should be opened up so that dirt will not
pack in the infected areas. In extreme cases, the frog itself should
be trimmed very short, up to the live tissue. The farrier's trim
must contact the shoe at all points on the outside curve so that dirt
cannot collect under the shoe. A silicone bead can be spread across
the top of the shoe before nailing it in place to act as a sealant, but
the hoof must be cleaned thoroughly with Betadine before this application
|If thrush is found between the heel bulbs, spray water
into the infected area and pack with cotton and soak with Betadine.
Check to make sure that there are no pockets where thrush can hide.
Re-apply Betadine every other day until the heel dries and hardens.
all signs of thrush are gone, you can
maintain a healthy hoof by cleaning daily
and using high pressure water spray to blast
out all of the fine silt and sand particles.
When the heel is thoroughly clean, use a
thrush medication like Thrush-X or Koppertox
several times a week. Peroxide is also an option. To insure
against a re-occurrence, keep your horses stall as dry as possible.
This will keep the moisture out of his hoof, which is where the problem
|A pushed heel bulb is caused by consistent poor
trimming of the heel area. One side of the heel is shorter than the
other and the longer side pushes the whole heel upward disfiguring the
hoof. This lopsided condition can be seen by looking directly at the
heels, comparing one side to the other. There should be perfect
|A dished toe is a structural flaw of the hoof and is
usually caused by laminitis or founder. Simply stated, laminitis is
an inflammation of the sensitive laminae of the foot.