Man­age­ment mat­ters

Your Horse (UK) - - Your Horse's Care -

En­sur­ing your horse’s hooves are in the best pos­si­ble con­di­tion go­ing into win­ter is vi­tal, says Stu­art. “One of the ad­van­tages of hav­ing shod feet is that it keeps peo­ple a lit­tle tighter on their rota with their far­rier. If they just have a trim, that rou­tine can slip, so I don’t mind whether a horse is shod or trimmed, as long as it is done reg­u­larly.” Foot bal­ance is also im­por­tant. “Get­ting the hoof bal­ance spot-on will help pre­vent things such as quar­ter cracks, which are much more dif­fi­cult con­di­tions to man­age in win­ter as the wet ex­ac­er­bates it. The vet and far­rier can look at a horse’s move­ment and foot­fall and as­sess the hoof bal­ance. Own­ers can really help by hav­ing an X-ray taken of their horse’s hoof to give the far­rier a bet­ter idea of what is go­ing on.” Hoof sup­ple­ments are al­ways worth con­sid­er­ing in the run-up and dur­ing the win­ter months, too. “There are plenty of bi­otin-rich hoof sup­ple­ments on the mar­ket, but th­ese need to be fed six to nine months be­fore win­ter so that the healthy foot is com­ing through in win­ter,” Stu­art says. “They don’t speed up hoof growth, but they do im­prove the qual­ity of the horn.” Pre­vent­ing horses stand­ing for long pe­ri­ods in wet, muddy con­di­tions is also vi­tal. “What is ideal is hav­ing some­where dry where the horse can stand and get out of the mud,” sug­gests Stu­art. “There’s noth­ing worse than poached, muddy gate­ways where the horses will stand for hours wait­ing to come in. “Even if you don’t have sta­bles, just be­ing able to pull them out of the poached ground and pick out their feet is bet­ter than noth­ing. It’s easy to miss punc­tures and pen­e­tra­tion wounds if you’re not pick­ing out your horse’s feet daily.” When it’s cold and dark, it’s tempt­ing to bring your horse in from the field and chuck him straight into his sta­ble, but the least you should do is pick out his feet. Clean, dry bed­ding is ex­tremely im­por­tant too.

Poor hooves will de­te­ri­o­rate in win­ter. Plan ahead and work with your vet and far­rier to get them healthy early

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