Even when we're not out hitting the trail or the area, horses spend the vast majority of their time on their feet (whether it be grazing, sleeping or pulling mare faces) making it doubly important that we take care of their hooves.
Nowadays, getting hold of a farrier or hoof trimmer can be tricky (and expensive!), making a basic trimming kit an excellent addition to your gear. A rasp, farrier nippers, a hoof pick and a little patience are all you need to get started.
If you're not sure how to trim hooves, a great place to start is Barefootcare: Functional Hooves for Lifelong Soundness. The booklet, written by highly respected farriers, is a fabulous crash course in hoof care and maintenance, covering a variety of topics from hoof function to diet and rehabilitation.
Other great additions to your trimming kit are a few simple preventatives, such as Bare Equine's Hoof Power and Hoof Spray. Both of these products are great in damp conditions, helping protect your horse's hooves against "hoof funk" and other yucky bugs. Hoof Power is also great for use in hoof boots, to absorb moisture.
What your horse eats can have a huge impact on their feet. Hooves grow by approximately 10mm every month and require a lot of nutrients. If you feel that your bestie isn't getting the best diet, a supplement designed to support hoof growth, such as Hoof Support can be a good idea.
While the best way to keep your horse's hooves healthy is through regular maintenance, problems will pop up and addressing them promptly is key.
Bacteria are often the cause of most issues. Bacteria love wet, warm conditions and hooves have both, finding the smallest cracks to set up shop and cause problems such as seedy toe and thrush. Left unchecked, these bacteria can lead to serious, long-lasting problems,
For issues such as lameness due to founder or hoof abscesses, poultices and hoof socks or therapy boots are a great idea. Therapy boots in particular, such as Easyboot's Cloud Boots, give relief to sore feet, white the extra cushioning in the sole.
With regular care and attention, hoof health doesn't have to be complicated. Educating yourself on the basics of hoof trimming and maintenance, will stand you and your equine buddy in good stead in the long run.