Basic Horse Hoof Care

Many different hoof problems can occur in horses. Having a good working relationship with a farrier and veterinarian is essential to solving and preventing some of these problems. This article discusses common hoof problems as well as basic hoof care procedures throughout the year.

Mary Boyce, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota

Caring for a horse’s feet and hooves will safeguard its long-term soundness. Following are some tips to keep a horse’s feet healthy. 

Shoeing or Trimming Interval

Cleaning a Horse's Hoof

Betsy Greene, Equine Extension Specialist, University of Vermont 

 

Cleaning out Hoof

Cleaning out your horse’s hooves is a task that should be done daily. Cleaning out the hooves can alert you of any problems in your horse’s hooves and can also help to prevent common hoof problems such as bruises, corns or abscesses.

A hoof pick is used to pick debris out of the horse’s hooves.

To pick up the front foot, stand side by side with the horse facing the …

Understanding the Equine Hoof

Image:Hoof feature.JPGIn this video, Nate Allen, of Allen Farrier Service-Juanita, NE and Central Community Technical College-Hastings NE, helps viewers understand how the equine hoof functions and gives suggestions for managing horses’ hooves to maintain long term soundness. 2008 Equestrian Academy, University of Nebraska

 

Horse's hoof

Healthy, sound hooves provide an important foundation for a working horse. In this video, Nate Allen, of Allen Farrier Service-Juanita, NE and Central Community Technical College-Hastings NE, helps viewers understand how the equine hoof functions and gives suggestions …

How a Horse's Hoof Grows

Craig Wood, University of Kentucky

Hoof growth is one of the most important considerations in hoof physiology. Hoof growth occurs from the coronary band down toward the toe. The average hoof grows 1/4 to 3/8 inch per month. Since the average hoof is 3 to 4 inches in length, the horse grows a new hoof every year.

Rapidly growing hooves are considered to be higher quality and easier to keep properly trimmed and shod. Factors that effect hoof growth …

Sensitive Structures of the Hoof

Craig Wood, University of Kentucky

The sensitive structures are so called because they contain many nerves and blood vessels. Injury to them will cause pain and bleeding. Sensitive structures are located under every part of the horny hoof. Each hoof structure has a corresponding sensitive structure.

Sensitive coronary band. The sensitive coronary band is located around the upper border of the hoof under its junction with the skin. The function of the sensitive coronary band is to provide hoof …

Bones of the Hoof

Craig Wood, University of Kentucky

 

Labelled bones of the Horse's hoof

 

Long pastern bone. The long pastern bone is located between the fetlock and pastern joint. The long pastern bone should be about one-third the length of the cannon bone. The function of the long pastern bone is to increase the flexibility of the fetlock joint and reduce concussion. The length, flexibility, and slope of the pasterns strongly influence the smoothness of the horse’s gait. 

 

Short pastern bone. The short pastern bone is located between …

External Parts of the Horse Hoof

Horse's hoof

A horse’s hoof can be divided into five areas: the wall, the sole, the frog, the periople, and the white line. Hoof growth occurs by cell division of the horn-producing cell layer (stratum germinativum) of the sensitive structures. The hoof wall bears the majority of the horse’s weight and is the most subject to trauma. The hoof wall is visible when the horse is standing. 

The wall. The wall is related to the papillae of the sensitive coronary band and …

Blood Pumping Mechanism of the Hoof

Craig Wood, University of Kentucky

Blood is pumped from the heart through arteries to the hoof and is assisted in its return through a “pumping mechanism” in the hoof. This mechanism is necessary due to the position of the hoof in relation to the heart. There are no muscles in the lower leg or hoof to aid in the return of venous blood to the heart. Thus, the hoof has to pump venous blood back to the …

Evaluating the Hoof and Trim Job

Craig Wood, University of Kentucky
 
Ensuring that a horse’s hooves are properly trimmed and balance can help to prevent lameness. This article discusses how to evaluate the hoof and how it is trimmed.
 

To evaluate the hoof, watch the horse move, and look for limb interference and faulty movement. Observe the position of the hooves when the horse is standing squarely on the ground. The hooves should be uniform and balanced. There should not be any flaring in the …

Common Hoof Problems

Many problems can occur within the horse’s hoof. This article addresses common hoof problems, including abcesses, cracks, sole bruises, and corns.

Craig Wood, University of Kentucky

Abscess

Abscess is an infection of the sensitive tissue of the foot. Abscesses result in varying degrees of lameness, depending on the severity of the abscess. Symptoms include the hoof being hot and an increased pulse. The abscess will take the path of least resistance and migrate up the hoof and break out …