Proper hoof care is critical for the overall well-being of your equine athlete. Today, we detail everything about hoof care, inside and out, so that you can optimize your athlete’s health and performance.
How Hooves Affect Equine Athletes
Equine athletes need balance and proper footing to make jumps. Landing from a jump also requires healthy and properly cared-for hooves in order to protect tendons from injury. Proper posture is essential; hoof health will impact posture directly in the ring.
Factors for Healthy Hooves
Factors affecting the health of hooves include temperature and humidity changes, diet and nutrition, time between farrier visits, and, in some cases, heredity.
You can support and optimize your athlete’s hoof health with a healthy diet. Having the right balance of fatty acids and essential amino acids will help them build a healthy hoof.
Regular turning out and exercise can significantly improve hoof health, as well as the overall health of your equine athlete. Maintaining clean and dry conditions in the stall can prevent a host of hoof and health issues in your horse.
Regular trims and shoeing by an experienced farrier is an absolute must. Regular observation can help you prevent uneven footing, heel bulb lacerations, and injuries to the hoof horn. Finally, optimizing your horse’s hydration will keep their hooves moisturized from the inside out.
Additional Measures for Healthy Hooves
There are many other measures you can take to support the health of your horse’s hooves, including frequent vet check-ups and supplementation.
Hoof Care Products
Hoof moisturizers help to maintain moisture balance within the horse’s hooves and along the hoof wall. Modern research and technology have resulted in the formulation of hoof conditioners that can treat and prevent hoof infections from becoming life-threatening, while maintaining moisture balance and allowing the hoof to breathe.
Certain hoof supplements help to strengthen horse hooves from the inside out. These include biotin and zinc. Before you supplement, it’s a good idea to speak with your vet, who can help you optimize your horse’s diet and rule out any underlying conditions that may be affecting their ability to absorb nutrients or stay hydrated.
Bell Boots and Pads
Some horse owners choose hoof boots or pads to help prevent injury and heel bulbs in horse hooves. Hoof boots help absorb shock during riding, make movement more comfortable, and provide more traction in varying terrain, all while supporting natural circulation and shock absorption.
Hoof pads are used for various reasons, including to prevent bruising, help with load-bearing, and heal cracks in the hooves. Pads are also used to help prevent injury and heel bulbs.
Regular Vet Visits
When it comes to the health and performance of your equine athlete, regular vet visits are a must. A vet can identify potential hoof problems before they begin and help you ensure that your horse is getting a balanced diet.
Therapies and Techniques for Hoof Health
Your farrier will be able to offer corrective shoeing. This technique helps hooves to wear more gradually and add strength and durability to the hooves.
Barefoot trimming is another technique with several benefits. Direct contact with the ground increases blood flow inside the hoof and may allow the hoof to develop the thicker sole and deeper digital cushion needed to more efficiently dissipate energy inside the hoof itself.
Acupuncture and chiropractic care can help restore and maintain blood flow to the hooves, relieve pain, and benefit their overall health. Stem cell and shockwave therapy offer help for horses with poor hoof growth and general health issues.
Whole-body vibration therapy or WBV helps increase blood and oxygen circulation to hooves, muscles, and tendons and is proven to increase hoof growth substantially.
A healthy hoof care regimen should encompass natural care, additional measures, whole-body vibration therapies, and more. Contact Vitafloor at (352) 737-6743 today for more on maintaining hoof health.