Horses hooves are very important for the horses life. It is how they move and get away from predators and pressure, including, just simply walking. From something going wrong in the hoof, the horse can die. So take, “taking care of your horses hooves,” seriously. If you make a horse walk on concrete or something hard (usually with shoes), make them race, get the nails for a shoe put in the wrong way, etc, the horse can go lame and die, so you need to really make sure you are not hurting the horse and make sure you think about what you are going to do, before doing it. Is there things it is going to do that are bad for and to my horse? Are there good things its going to do for my horse? How can I make it even better and prevent some of the bad things that are happening.
Top 10 tips for trimming horse hooves:
Less is more: It is always better to take off too little than too much. The change to the hoof itself is slower, allowing the horse to be able to adjust without affecting the balance or hoof drastically. You should trim a little every week then do a more thorough trim every 8 weeks.
The Hoof Wall: It is the capsule that holds many things together within the horses hoof. The hoof wall protects the interior hoof, so do not thin it out or file the sides too much. This will weaken it. You only want to trim the part that touches the ground. Please, never trim it shorter or higher than the sole.
Balanced and level hoof: Ideally, a hoof wall that is just slightly higher than the sole allows it to grow together with the sole, creating a much stronger unit for the horse.
The Sole: The sole naturally shaves itself down as the horse walks around throughout the day. You should only file the sole if it is uneven or bumpy. A balanced approach is the best for the horse and easier for you to do a little bit regularly.
The Bars: These should always be level with the sole rather than longer or taller. The rear of the bar helps you to determine the height of the heel. If the bars are being pushed over and out, then they are too long and bearing too much weight.
The Heel: Again, balance is the key. Too short is touching the bulb and too long makes the horse walk on its toes. A little longer than the sole is better than shorter than the sole. If the heel is too short the hoof will not be balanced and the horse will walk on its heels instead of the entire hoof. If it is too long, than more weight will be on the toe and the hoof is not carrying a balanced load.
The Frog: A little longer is better than too short and the frog wears down just like the sole and the hoof wall. So, it should not be shorter than the sole. The hoof flexes so it should touch or get pressure from the ground when the horse walks, but should not be lower than the hoof wall which would cause too much pressure. Use a rasp to see if the rasp touches both sides of the hoof wall and it should touch the frog slightly, giving light pressure which should be evenly spread throughout the whole hoof.
Dealing with flares: Flares are cause by many things, but usually overgrowth of the hoof wall. If the hoof is trimmed every two weeks, overgrowth will be prevented and flares will not occur in the hoof. To correct flares, start from the bottom of the hoof wall and not from the side. If the flares are really bad, some slight shaving of the sides may be needed. Flares unbalance the hoof, because one side gets more weight and pressure, it causes the hoof wall to relieve that pressure by moving out and flaring. Prevention is the key.
Dealing with splits and chips: Splits normally start as chips and also from damage of the coronary band or damage to the hoof wall. Chips at the bottom of the hoof wall can be managed and rounded out to help prevent chips and splits. Chips transfer more pressure to other parts of the hoof, by rounding and re-balancing the hoof you can help prevent thee chip from becoming a split. When a hoof is more balanced the weight is distributed more evenly and less pressure points occur. Since hoof balance is necessary, it is better to correct minor things before they advance to troublesome issues. It is best to do this because it keeps the hoof stronger and supports weight more evenly, wears more evenly and functions better.
Scooping or Pooling Quarters: This makes the quarters a little shorter than the toe and heel. This fine tunes the hoof. This allows a little spring or flexing action in the hoof so that the toe and heel can flatten out and create more movement in the hoof. This encourages sole growth and foliation, frog pressure and pumping increases blood flow to the hoof.