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How to Get Your Horse Looking Great From Muzzle to Tail!  Part One:  The Hoof
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How to Get Your Horse Looking Great From Muzzle to Tail! Part One: The Hoof

Grooming, the time when you get all the dirt off your horse and make him beautiful, is a big part of your daily routine when you have a horse.  You need to do it for several reasons.

  1. They love it!
  2. It's a great time to look for any cuts, see if he's getting too fat or thin, and check out his skin condition.
  3. It makes the two of you a team!  Horses love to groom each other, so don't be surprised if when you are brushing him that he turns around and scratches your cheek with his lips!  He's grooming you too!
  4. It makes him look good!

Okay so now that we've got that straightened out.  Here's what you need.

  1. A hoof pick.
  2. Rubber curry comb
  3. 2 Dandy brushes--(one with firm bristles and the other soft)
  4. A hard curry comb or wide toothed comb(like what you would use on your own hair after a shower)
  5. A body brush
  6. Towels
  7. Sponges
  8. Spray bottle
  9. Baby oil
  10. Scissors
  11. Show Sheen (for burs)
  12. Hoof oil and polish

Let's get to work

Begin by either tying your horse up using a quick release knot or securing him in cross ties.  You can tie him inside or out.  If you work outside there's no sweeping up to do afterward!

Next look over your horse quickly from head to tail, looking for cuts, bites, or skin problems.  Look at his eyes and nostrils to make sure there is not discharge. 

Today we will talk about cleaning the hooves!  This is very important!  If you don't have time to do anything else with your horse, clean his hooves!

Horses love routine!  Always clean the hooves in the same order.  They will anticipate which hoof you will clean next and if they are nice, they will have already shifted their weight off the next hoof by the time you get to it.   Starting with a front leg, stand with your arm touching the horse's shoulder.  Bend over so that you can place your hand on the front of his knee and run your hand down the front of his lower leg (cannon bone)  until you get to his ankle or fetlock.  At the same time, lean into  the horse slightly until you feel him shift his weight and give his fetlock a little squeeze.  Slide your hand down so it is cupping the front of the hoof and lift it up!  Use a routine voice command as you cue him to pick up his foot, such as "Up" or clucking at him.

If he's being stubborn about picking up his hoof lean even more and squeeze a bit above the fetlock.  You might also get him to take a step forward or back to get him to shift his weight. 

If he tries to bite you when you are working in the front, shorten the lead rope and angle your rump away from his teeth!

If he wants to kick you with his back legs, stay as close to him as you can.  He can't do much more than bump you if you are really close to him.  Speak firmly to him if he does this (or as some would say, growl at him!) 

If you have any of the above problems be patient and keep yourself safe!  Hopefully you don't have a kicker or biter!

Now, holding the hoof pick in the hand furthest from the horse, start about 1/4 of the way across the top of the hoof that kind of looks like the top of a heart (the heel).  Press down gently with the pick and scrape a line about a 45 angle.  Do the same on the other side of the hoof.  The triangular area that you have uncovered is called the frog.  Pick around this area gently, because it is soft.  Next scrape around the rest of the hoof until all the dirt and rocks are out. 

Repeat these steps for the remainng three hooves. 

When cleaning the hooves, give the horse a little limb and foot checkup.  As you run your hands down his legs, feel for any puffiness, bumps, cuts or scabs.  Take note of any bot eggs that may need to be removed later.  Be alert to any foul odor coming from the hoof when you pick it out.  If the odor is present particularly around the frog and you see blackness, he probably has a bit of thrush.  You can buy expensive thrush remedies or you can just use a bit of bleach diluted in water.  Also note any temperature difference between hooves and areas that are sensitive to the pressure of the pick.  Check for any nails that look loose if your horse is shod.

Make your job easier by getting the horse to carry his own weight.  Some horses like to rest their weight on you.  If they want to do this lean into them while cleaning to shift their weight away from you.  You can also let the back hoof rest on you inside thigh while cleaning it, but I find that this makes them lean on you more!

If it is winter and the horse is shod, sometimes applying a layer of Hooflex to the sole of the hoof will help prevent the horse from getting snowballs in his feet.

There you're all done!  Give him lots of praise during and after you are finished for a job well done.  Give yourself a pat too.  Hoof cleaning is hard work! 

Next time, let's talk about that beautiful body of his and how you can make it gleam!  If you liked this post, please vote for it, like it or share it!  Or do all three!

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  1. HorseDiva
    These are fantastic tips. I voted. When you have the chance, please read my article, Win a Pair of VEGAN Fashion Riding Boots from NeuAura!, and vote if you like it. Thanks.
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