Summer Hoof Care For Horses

Summer Hoof Care For Horses

The changing seasons can have a significant impact on your horse’s hooves and summer is no exception. Dry, hot weather can cause the equine foot to dry out all too quickly, making them brittle and prone to cracking, so it’s important to ensure you maintain hoof health and integrity with the right diet and management through the summer months.

A Healthy Equine Foot in Summer

Hot, dry weather and the resulting hard ground can inflict quite a lot of damage on your horse’s feet and cause many horse hoof problems. And we all know that the old saying ‘NO HOOF, NO HORSE’ is 100% true.

Horse’s hooves need to be flexible and not too dry, facilitating hoof expansion and contraction on movement – an essential part of the healthy hoof mechanism, which helps to absorb some of the concussion that might otherwise be transmitted up the leg. Dry feet also become brittle and crack more easily, which can make it harder to keep a shoe on and lead to a vicious cycle of cracked hooves, lost shoes and lameness due to short feet and hard ground.

Belgian farrier and FormaHoof Expert, Bart Lambert, offers this advice:

“I advise regular moisturising of the feet through the summer months, which you can do with water. Many people believe that hoof oil is the best option. However, just imagine yourself fully covered with oil before going into the shower – the water would just run off you and not enter the body. The principal is just the same with your horse’s hooves. So I recommend that people first wet their horse’s hooves and then treat them with hoof oil, balsam or another hoof care product, which then keeps the moisture in. A healthy, supple hoof is your horse’s first line of defence against hard ground.”

 

Nutrition For Healthy Hooves with Nutritional Expert Lisa Elliott

Nowadays we regularly hear the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ in relation to our own diet and its health implications, and it’s no different for our horses. In equines, a healthy foot starts with a healthy diet and there are several factors that come into play when providing the best diet to support your horse’s hooves and to help avoid diseases such as laminitis.

Fats and oils

Summer weather brings its own challenges with the hot and dry days promoting dry and brittle hooves which will crack and chip, especially when working on hard surfacesIn addition, summer can also bring bursts of wetter weather alongside the dry heat.  Going through wet-dry-wet-dry-wet-dry conditions can further promote cracking, chipping and peeling of the hooves.

Hooves contain phospholipids, which have segments that can both attract and repel water to help maintain correct moisture balance in the face of changing summer conditions.  Fats provide key phospholipids, alongside Omega 3 fatty acids which have an important role in hoof structure and integrity.  Both of these are essential when combating both wet and dry conditions in a typical summer, to build healthy, resilient hooves which are less likely to become damaged or cracked.  Alongside fresh grass, linseed meal is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids and provides good levels of phospholipids, which is particularly beneficial if your horse has restricted access to fresh grass.

Vitamins and Minerals

A healthy, strong hoof is less prone to cracking and chipping, so providing a balanced diet which supplies a range of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals for strong, healthy hooves, is essential throughout the summer season.  Key nutrients for health and strength in hooves include zinc, copper, biotin, and a good supply of essential amino acids such as Lysine and Methionine.

Providing a targeted hoof supplement, which both supply optimal levels of key nutrients alongside all-round hoof benefiting nutrition, will help maintain strength and soundness throughout the summer and help to avoid common hoof problems. 

Weight Management

Summer is a time when horses can be prone to gaining a few extra lbs, which can have a knock-on impact on hoof health.  Excess weight can put a strain on joints and ligaments, whilst also predisposing horses to equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), which can result in hoof-related problems such as laminitis.

Maintaining your horse at a healthy weight and the optimal condition is essential for overall health and well-being and to help prevent disease.  Regular use of a weight tape coupled with a Body Condition Score Chart (BCS) will help you to monitor weight and condition. You can then adjust your horse or pony’s diet, management, and exercise as necessary to help maintain an ideal BCS of 5 on a nine-point scale. 

Exercise helps burns calories, increases fitness and improves insulin sensitivity in horses with EMS.  Regular exercise, ensuring your horse is always engaging in an active walk and trot, is great for burning fat and reducing those lbs to help maintain a healthy weight.  Additionally, exercise has great benefits for hoof health and integrity because movement promotes blood circulation, pumping blood through the hooves to provide critical nourishment. 

Other Factors In Seasonal Hoof Care

In reality, our horse’s environment is rarely, if ever constant. We take them from grassy paddocks to dry, sandy arenas, to hard tarmac roads, to stables with often too-damp bedding. And it can be hard for our horse’s feet to keep up.

Your first port of call should be to talk to your farrier about how you might improve your management practices and daily hoof care to enhance your horse’s hoof health. Factors such as the moisture content of bedding, the surfaces you ride on, and the care of your horse’s hooves pre- and post- exercise can all have a significant influence on the health of your horse’s feet and your farrier is best placed to advise.

A horse’s hoof may also change in size from winter to summer, as feet expand in warmer conditions and contract in colder ones. Consequently, you may find that your horse may need a slightly different sized shoe in summer versus winter, depending on how much the temperature changes through the seasons where you are. Again, your farrier is the expert and will know what is best for your horse throughout the shoeing cycles in the year, whether yours is a barefoot horse or is shod.

The length of your shoeing cycle is also an important factor in the health of your horse’s feet, which can have a knock-on influence on your horse’s performance. Hooves tend to grow faster with increasing daylight and getting your horse’s feet done every 4-6 weeks vs every 10 weeks will make a big difference to hoof health. German Farrier and FormaHoof Expert, Aletia Reilingh, comments:

“I like to have sport horses on a shorter cycle, making sure the hooves are kept balanced and the toe is not getting too long to avoid stress on the horses limbs. Using x-rays to evaluate the feet for a shoeing plan is also hugely beneficial”.

How FormaHoof Can Help With Summer Hoof Health

Traditional nailed-on horseshoes help to protect the equine feet from wear and tear on hard ground. But if the horse’s feet have become dry and brittle, nails can cause further breakage, lost shoes and lameness. FormaHoof is a liquid fit, reusable mould process that offers 3D hoof protection and support, without glue or nails. It’s particularly useful in summer as it helps to retain moisture within the hoof, while the AP resin flexes as healthy hoof does, helping to absorb impact and concussion. With FormaHoof, it’s also extremely easy to add extra cushioning by applying dental impression material to the sole before the FormaHoof is applied, providing added support and impact cushioning. 

If you have any questions on how best to care for your horse’s hoof care this summer, or how FormaHoof may help your horse, please do get in touch or book an in-depth consultation with one of the FormaHoof’s Experts. We’re here to help.

Equine Hoof Care with FormaHoof

Regardless of the season, if your are supporting horses, donkeys or maybe even zebras, FormaHoof is a fantastic solution for horses recovering from hoof related disease such as laminitis, white line disease, navicular disease, hoof cracks or many other of the most common hoof pathologies. No matter if you want to give your horse comfort during a laminitis treatment, provide support for low heels or help your horse to solid feet on the way to a barefoot transition if you wish to support your horse’s hoof disease treatment with FormaHoof, we highly recommend discussing your horse’s case with your farrier, trimmer, veterinarian or one of the FormaHoof Experts in detail.

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The FormaHoof – Ask an Expert Q&A group was setup to create an open experience exchange between horse owners and professionals. Get your questions answered and learn more about FormaHoof in a familiar environment whilst making new friends on the way to healthier hooves.

Learn FormaHoof insights here

The FCA course in the FormaHoof Academy is set to give equine podiatry professionals the option of adding certified high-quality FormaHoof services to their business. Nevertheless, the course is open to everyone and owners can gain helpful insights in the usage of FormaHoof and learn with their trusted farrier, trimmer or vet, how to get started.

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Our FormaHoof Expert team

joel

Joel Brown

MSc Hon AG
Accredited Professional Farrier (APF-1)
FormaHoof Certified Applicator

Expert in supportive treatment for Navicular Disease & NPA with FormaHoof

Languages: English

As a born and bred horseman, Joel’s approach to farrier science is based on a holistic viewpoint that addresses the anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics of the horse to enhance comfort and balance across all equine breeds, types and disciplines. A cowboy at heart, Joel holds a Masters in Equine Science and Business and is an experienced farrier, with more than 42 years in equine podiatry.
Aletia1

Aletia Reilingh

Staatlich gepr. Hufschmied
State Certified Farrier/Germany
FormaHoof Certified Applicator

Expert in supportive treatment for Laminitis and White Line Disease with FormaHoof

Languages: English, German
A Canadian by birth, a farrier by trade and a rider by heart, Aletia made the move to Europe in 2014. Here she settled her farriery business in the Western part of Germany, an area with one of the highest density of horses in the country. Whilst she provides farrier services in the Northwest of Germany and parts of the Netherlands, Aletia is also a highly successful dressage rider and will soon move on to Grand Prix level.
FormaHoof supportive treatment for Laminittis n Horses, farrier Bart Lambert

Bart Lambert

Hoefsmid
State Certified Farrier/Belgium
FormaHoof Certified Applicator

Expert in supportive treatment for Laminitis and White Line Disease with FormaHoof

Languages: Flämisch, Dutch, English, French

Bart is an experienced farrier with over a decade specialising in remedial shoeing and sport horse farriery. He provides a wide range of services throughout Belgium and is a multi-lingual super talent! Bart has a passion for PRE horses and dedicates his free time to their breeding and training.
Lisa

Lisa Elliott

MSc Equine Science
Qualified in Equine Nutrition

Expert in Equine Nutrition

Languages: English, French
Horse lover and equine enthusiast, Lisa holds a Masters Degree in Equine Science and is a specialist in Equine Nutrition. She has played a key role in the development of our FormaHoof Nutritional Supplements and is available to discuss your horse’s diet in detail and the influence that diet may be having on their health and performance. Lisa can also provide support with a special diet plan tailored to your horse’s unique needs (additional cost for diet plans may apply).