One of my favorite things to do when growing up in different barns and programs is to pick up little tips of the trade. Grooms each have their own little way they like things done, and with the internet and forums you can pick up so many new tools.
This week, I want to chat about “feet.” Frye received new shoes today. There was a tinge of bitterness as I realized my bank account would be taking the hit, but also a relief to know my mare’s feet look fantastic. I’ve had horses that could go barefoot through training level to horses that needed special pads and suffered several stone bruises. I’ve accumulated quite the tool box to promote a good hoof. Like they say: “No Hoof, No Horse.”
First: You better hire the best farrier you can find.
I think most farriers here charge what they’re worth, and I am happy to pay for the long-term soundness of my horses. Going the cheap route can lead to heartache very very quickly. Not only are you going to be happier your horse is staying in work, but in the long-term you’re going to save quite the penny when you’re not calling out the vet and packing hooves for weeks from bruises.
Second: Post Workout Care
This doesn’t look the same for every horse. In the past, I’ve had horses with extremely thin soles. God Bless the American Thoroughbred. When you’re conditioning on hard-ground or at least when your horse is having more concussion on their soles you want to limit inflammation. We immediately think of icing their legs, but you also want to limit inflammation in the hoof so I ice my horse’s feet as well. I do this after almost every xc school with my current Preliminary OTTB mare.
My mare has pads in her front feet, but if the horse is not wearing pads, I will pack the foot as well. I make a mix of epson salt, betadine, and sometimes DMSO. (Watch out using DMSO during competition season, and use sparingly.) I like Magic Cushion as well. The key here is to think of pulling out any heat and inflammation that may be caused by concussion during a workout.
Third: Moisture Retention and Tough Feet
I get so much satisfaction painting my horse’s feet with hoof oil. I have a few concoctions I’ll share. Does anyone else get so annoyed when your horse has mud caked on the hoof, and you don’t want to get the hoof oil brush dirty? Just me. Ok.
My go-to of hoof hardener has to be: Keratex Hoof Hardener. (This should be in your trunk if your horse has poor feet.) Frye’s feet look fantastic six months in. This will retain the moisture within the foot while strengthening the molecular structure of the outside of the foot. I like this better than other hoof hardeners because the foot can still breathe, it’s not a thick resin. Don’t get it on yourself or the horse’s skin. I keep it in the box, so it’s not likely to spill out.
My DIY hoof mix: Sugardine. I just learned about this through the internet last summer after my mare stepped on a nail and had some bruising on her soles. (Pre-intense hoof research.) This is just a mix of sugar and iodine. It’s been used for ages, and is folklore as one of those household remedies. I like it in a pretty thick paste. Its used again to lesson any possible inflammation as well as infection. You can also use this for wounds, but I keep a little container of a peanut butter consistency and slap it on maybe once a week now for good measure, just all over the foot and sole.
My favorite every day hoof oil, Farrier’s Fix. It’s not super expensive, I believe it provides the right amount of moisture for the hoof, and it also is a great oil to place on before you go in the ring. The hooves will have a nice shine. I benefits the entire hoof and the coronary band. This stays in my grooming bag for a few times a week, while the two above I use more once a week, or when I have specific issues