Keeping your horse’s hooves in good shape is a picky task all year long, but ensuring they are well-nourished in summer is even more challenging. We are bringing you some essential tips for hoof care in hot weather, so you can fully enjoy summer months without worrying about your four-legged friend’s well-being!
Moisture, moisture, moisture
One of the biggest problems on the way to healthy hooves is an inconsistent moisture level. If the hoof is wet, it softens and expands. However, when exposed to dryness, it hardens and contracts. When a hoof has to withstand changing moisture levels, it alternately expands and contracts, which leads to cracks and worse quality of the hoof wall. If your horse has weak hooves and they start to crack, applying a hoof balm may help. Hoof balms are not designed to moisture the tissues as many think. On the contrary: it merely preserves the water molecules inside. Choosing a quality balm can be a huge help in preventing dry and hardened hooves.
There are also several other ways to keep your horse’s hooves hydrated; for example, early morning pasture is an excellent way to provide hydration. The grass is full of dew early in the morning, and as horses graze, their hooves naturally absorb a lot of moisture. Also, when going for a hack, try to add a stream to your way and let your horse rest there for a few moments.
If your horse doesn’t go to a paddock or if you don’t have a nearby stream or the options above are simply out of your reach, an excellent way to keep your horse’s hooves wet for some time is to apply soaked bell boots. The water contained in the fabric does not last long, but it is a good option for horses who spend all day in the stable.
The timing of activities during a day is crucial. According to experts, most harm is done to hooves if the horse moves on a hot surface. Especially hooves with iron shoes suffer on hot ground, let it be either sand or dirt. The best thing you can do is plan your horse’s activities like riding sessions and time in a paddock for early morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are not the highest.
Keep in mind the proper planning of sessions with your farrier, too. If your horse’s shoes are not regularly changed as needed, loose nails broaden the holes in the hoof wall, disturbing the environment, creating a way for germs, and serving as a way out for moisture. In summer, it is, therefore, vital to redo your horse’s shoes frequently.
Let food be the medicine
The most crucial weapon your horse possesses against weak hooves is a proper diet. Ensure your horse has all the nutrients they need (you can check our earlier article about feeding), enough protein, selenium, fatty acids, and minerals like zinc, for example. Vitamins B7 and B3, in other names biotin and niacin, are also essential. In a natural diet, they are contained in grass and grains, and you can supplement them in the form of hoof supplements.
With these simple tips in mind, nothing is stopping you from enjoying summer with your furry friend at the fullest!