I don’t know about you, but I used to pick out my horse’s feet religiously, thinking that clean feet were healthy feet. It turns out that this wasn’t always the best choice for horse health care. Why?
… because muddy hooves can be healthy.
Picking out your horse’s hooves on a regular basis is a good idea, but you shouldn’t do it blindly. Depending on what is packed into your horse’s hooves, decide whether to pick them out or not.
For instance, manure and urine-soaked bedding is definitely unhealthy for your horse’s hooves, and should be picked out regularly. On the other hand, mud from the pasture helps support the hoof structure and provides hoof stimulation. It also acts as an insulator against manure and urine when you put your horse back in his stall.
A Healthy Hoofcare Routine
A great horse health care routine for keeping your horse’s hooves in great shape might look like this:
- Before you turn him out to pasture, pick his feet clean of manure and urine-soaked bedding.
- Once he’s out in pasture, overfill his trough so he can pack mud into his hooves.
- When you bring him back to his stall from the pasture, leave the mud packed in his hooves to act as a support and insulator.
Of course, you’ll want to check his hooves for rocks and sticks before you ride him, but if he’s just got mud in his hooves you can often leave it there. This hoofcare routine holds true for both shod and barefoot horses.