Learning how to clean the hooves of a horse is an integral part in basic horsemanship. It is imperative to learn how to properly clean their hooves before and after they take them for a ride. This is important as it helps the horse to avoid damage to their hooves that can be caused by debris and rocks.
Cleaning their hooves on a regular basis also assists you in identifying and addressing any abnormalities like cracking, bruising, loose shoes or odor. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any abnormalities in order for them to take appropriate action immediately.
Let's get started!
- Make sure that your horse is secured tightly and haltered well before you begin. Having an assistant help hold them in place can be helpful.
- Stand next to their shoulder on the front feet or next to their hip for the hind limbs and ensure you are facing in the direction of the tail. Put your feet together and away from the horse to protect your toes from being stepped by the horse in case they were to put their leg down. You can bend at your knees in order to reduce the stress you might feel on your back.
- Alert him that you need to pick his foot up by running your hand down his leg. If he is not very cooperative, then lean against him with your shoulder to persuade him.
- You could train your horse to respond to a verbal cue like “pick up” or “hoof up” to ask the horse to lift its foot.
- When your horse lifts its foot up, hold the leg at the coronary band, or pastern. This is the area found above the foot. You can also hold the area under the hoof to offer some additional support.
- Using a hoof pick, clean out any debris, rocks or dirt from the frog (the bottom part of the foot that is fleshy and triangular in shape). If your horse will have its shoe on, trace along it to remove the pebbles and dirt that might have gotten inside. For barefoot horses, be sure to clean the part where their hoof sole meets the hoof capsule that is on the outer side.
- After you are done cleaning his feet, return the leg gently to the ground. You should not let him do it on his own as he might squish your toes. Guide the foot of the horse all the way to the ground, exercising special care as you lower arthritic or older horse’s hooves. Dropping them too abruptly might cause them to feel pain or lose their balance so it is advisable to be more cautious with those horses that might need extra care.
- Repeat all the above steps for their other three hooves.
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