We have all heard the old saying ‘No hoof, no horse’, and any of us that have been around horses for any length of time know it to be true.
But, aside from just the regular picking out and greasing of your horse’s hooves, what else are you actively doing to ensure the long term integrity of your horse’s feet and how closely are you paying attention to the small changes that can sometimes lead on to big problems?
Often as owners and riders we just assume our farrier is doing his job well and the hooves are ‘all good’, however when you begin to consciously get involved in monitoring the subtle changes on a weekly or fortnightly basis… You stand a much greater chance of keeping your equine friend sounder for longer.
So, why should we record and chart our horses hooves?
Well, horses feet change for variety of reasons, both environmental or mechanical. Because of this I think it is vital to note the facts of the hooves themselves but also keeping records of other outside external factors which may be contributing to healthy feet or subtly causing problems to occur.
Factors such as
- Feed and forage
- Stabled or living out
- Type of bedding
- Stable management routine
- Work surface
- Type of work required
- Rider (weight, experience, height, habits and style of riding)
Keeping a hoof journal for your horse will help keep track of your horses hooves, but also perhaps notice any changes early enough so as to intervene before they become a problem.
Your journal can be as basic or as detailed as you wish, however I would recommend tracking the following details
- Hoof shape and size – photographs and measurements
- Hoof condition – monitoring cracks, brittleness, exposure to moisture
- Hoof growth – measuring, photographs and any topical or supplements you are giving to promote
- Hoof quality – photographs and notes concerning texture
Also those external factors that I spoke of earlier such as farrier details, work, diet, supplements and a whole multitude of other influences which may or not be unique to your horse.
To help you with this I have created a free checklist for you to download and use when at the barn. You can print it off and keep it in your records file, or digitally fill it in and save it on your phone or computer.
Along with this checklist, I have also created a fully comprehensive hoof journal which along with the above mentioned checklist, is also filled with a whole host of more detailed, quick and easy understand and use pages that you can use to capture all those small but important details keep track of your horse’s feet and deal with any issues right at the beginning.
So, here’s to healthy hooves!
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