WHAT SPRING MEANS FOR YOUR HORSE’S HOOVES
Ah, the signs of spring--flowers are blooming, birds are singing and your horse’s hooves are growing quickly. That’s right, hooves grow faster in spring than at any other time of year. This accelerated growth is due to normal metabolic fluctuations, as well as dietary changes when spring pastures grow in.
The good news is that faster hoof growth means that minor cracks and other superficial issues may resolve more quickly in the spring than during other times of year. But this also means that you’ll probably have to call the farrier more often.
If your horse was on a 10-week schedule for hoof trims or shoe resets, it’s possible his hooves need attention as often as every six or seven weeks during the spring months, particularly if you are riding more often or longer.
Don’t wait until his hooves look distressed to make the next farrier appointment. Instead, keep an eye out for the earliest signs that he’s in need of a trim or reset. These include raised clinches---the foldedover ends of the nails visible along the hoof wall when the horse is standing---small cracks around the nails, or a long toe that gives the pastern a “broken back” appearance, meaning the hoof is at a more acute angle to the ground than is the pastern.
One good way to detect subtle changes over time is to take clear side photographs of your horse’s hooves immediately after they are trimmed so you can compare later.
Call your farrier and schedule an appointment if you notice any of these signs, even if it seems too “early” for a trim. Then schedule the next visit, for the same shortened interval, before the farrier leaves. That way you won’t have to wait to get on the shoeing schedule during a busy time of year. Hoof growth will slow down again in the late summer, at which point you may be able to return to longer stretches between farrier visits.
PURGE YOUR MEDICINE KIT
Want to feel like you’ve accomplished something important? Take 30 minutes this month to purge your medicine chest, getting rid of the following items:
• any medication that has expired; do not flush these, but take them to an approved drop-off site---many pharmacies will dispose of expired medications.
• any medication that has changed appearance or
texture, including ointments that have separated.
• old tubes of eye ointment: The tips harbor bacteria, making them unsafe.
• bandages or gauze that has ever been dirty, damp or otherwise compromised.
• self-adhesive wrap that has “melted” onto itself.
• rusted scissors, tweezers or other tools.