If you want to optimize your horse's hoof quality, start with regular visits with a good farrier. We realize many people trim their own horse's hooves, and that's fine, as long as you have the eye for it. that's far more important than just having the strength and the tools.
So, if you can judge that the hoof is properly balanced from side-to-side and toe-to-heel and level, and you know what the appropriate hoof angle is, go right ahead. If not, you're headed for trouble.
Of course, you?d have to be living in a vacuum not to know that good nutrition is the most important element in hoof quality.? And it isn?t just ?feed more biotin.?? it's also trace minerals, fatty acids, protein and essential amino acids. (See May 2009 hoof supplements article.)
One of the biggest problems with summer and hooves is that overly dry hooves can get tiny cracks that organisms can use to invade and damage the hoof. The more brittle your horse's hoof, the more likely he'll have small cracks.
Dry hooves will respond to a good hoof dressing applied regularly, and We've had great success with Contender (www.kinetictech.net, 877-786-9882), Hoof Heal (www.cut-heal.com, 800-288-4325), Sole Pack (hawthorne-products.com, 765-768-6585), RainMaker (www.farnam.com, 800-234-2269) and Hooflex (www.absorbine.com, 800-628-9653).
If your horse is shod, talk with your farrier about filling the nail holes and/or using a hoof sealer after he finishes.? This little extra step may help cut off those tiny access points around the nails. We especially like Farrier?s Hoof Sealant (www.sbsequine.com, 239-354-3361) and Tuff Stuff (www.mustadinternational.com, 860-242-3650).? Take it easy on sealers, though, and avoid the coronet band area.
Article by Contributing Writer Lee Foley.