What can be done about cracked hooves?
A problem that causes a lot of headaches for many riders in Germany is dry or brittle hooves. This problem often occurs at the beginning of summer, when the hooves have been through a wet winter and the first really hot days arrive. This is exactly when many horses' hooves become brittle or cracked. Brittle hooves are not only ugly, but also often lead to problems with the farrier.
What does a hoof need to develop well?
First of all, we should understand the conditions under which a hoof can develop well. Probably the most important factor here is fluid intake. For a healthy development of a hoof it is necessary that it is moistened at regular intervals to absorb fluid. In addition, a balanced and adapted diet of the horse contributes significantly to hoof health. Mineral feed can be used here in phases. Tips such as keeping the hooves moist all the time, on the other hand, are complete nonsense. This would lead to the formation of mould, which is probably even worse for your horse's well-being. Rather, care must be taken to ensure that the housing conditions are constantly optimised. Constantly standing in a box that is not mucked out regularly can also have very bad effects on the hooves, as the horse's excrement and urine act on them like acid.
5 Tips against cracked hooves:
- Morning dew on grasses has proven to be a very good remedy against cracked hooves. The horse's hooves absorb this morning moisture well and store it throughout the day. That's why it's time to get out of bed and give the horse regular access to the pasture, preferably in the morning. Horses should be given this space regularly anyway.
- Another great way to moisturise cracked hooves is to moisten the paddock floor. This trick is as simple as it is ingenious. The soil stores the moisture very well and sticks to the hoof soles for a while. A paddock that is too dry can draw additional moisture from the hoof.
- If the hooves are particularly dry, it can be beneficial to wash them off once or twice a week after riding and then brush them with a little hoof grease or hoof oil. The outer wall, which is not in direct contact with the ground, can certainly be rubbed with oil when the hooves are dry. This should not be done too often, however, because otherwise it can lead to habituation that leads to dependence on this oil. It is also important that oil really only be applied from the outside, as the sole still needs to absorb moisture and the oil could slow this process down even more.
- The next tip is regular farrier visits. It is actually obvious that the farrier is a professional when it comes to hooves. Cracked hooves can also occur when your horse is literally crooked. Misalignments can cause hooves to become brittle. So call your farrier and ask him for help. Regular hoof care is essential for your horse's health anyway.
- Give your horse opportunities to move on different surfaces. Ideally, it should be able to choose how and where it moves and at what speed. Ideally, this should be done in an open stable, because the movement stimulates hoof growth. A mixture of different soils such as gravel, sand, earth, wooden floor, concrete or a mud hole can be very helpful. In addition, a nice ride through the wall can also provide different surfaces.