How to care for a horse’s hooves
|Every one to two weeks, a domestic horse will need its hooves groomed to keep them from growing out of control.
|If left ungroomed, hooves can deform or become infected. Aside from being painful for the horse, this can lead to problems with their legs.
What are the basic parts of a horse’s hoof?
|The map above will help you to identify the areas of the hoof that are discussed in the grooming guide.
How to keep your horse’s hooves neat
|The general aim of the hoof grooming process is to make sure that the bottoms of your horse’s hooves are flat so that it can stand up comfortably.
|You will need a horse rasp, and a hoof jack.
|A hoof jack is a frame with a suspended strap that allows the horse to rest its hoof comfortably while it is being groomed.
What is a mustang roll?
|A mustang roll is the term used to describe the way that a horse’s hoof should be angled (bevelled) while it is barefoot, i.e. not wearing horse shoes.
Step 1 – Bevel hoof wall
Get your horse to lift up its foot and position it on the hoof jack.
|Angle your horse rasp at 45° to the edge of the hoof and use the side with the double cut file teeth until you can see the hoof wall meeting the lamina.
|The lamina is an off-white colour, in contrast to the stronger white of the inner hoof wall. The outer hoof wall will be a darker colour, which will vary depending on the horse.
|As you’re filing, you may notice fibres sticking out from the outer hoof wall. Don’t worry about this! It’s normal and can be tidied up later.
|When filing, make sure you keep the file at 45° and the handle of the file pointing towards the frog. This will help to prevent any damage to the sole of the foot.
|If your horse gets tired or wants to pick up its foot, give it a break. You should make sure your horse is comfortable throughout the entire hoof grooming process.
Step 2 – Apply upper bevel
For this step, your horse’s hoof should be flat on the stand as if it was standing on solid ground.
|File around the bottom of the hoof at 45° once again.
Step 3 – Check for flare
If it looks like there is any distortion to the natural curve in the bottom third of the horse’s hoof (referred to as flare), use your file to correct the shape.
|If a hoof is left flared then it can eventually crack.
Step 4 – Groom heels
Your horse will need to rest its hoof upside down on the hoof stand once again.
|Keeping your file flat and the handle pointing towards the frog, file the heels so that they are level with the rest of the hoof wall.
|Check to make sure both sides of the heel are level by looking along the flat surface of the bottom of the hoof. If they aren’t, file them so that they are.
Step 5 – Repeat
Repeat this process from step 1 to make sure your horse has four perfectly groomed feet.