Health Care for Horses
Reprinted from horses.extension.org
The time-honored phrase “No Foot – No Horse” emphasizes the importance of healthy feet to the well-being of a horse. Proper hoof care will help reduce lameness problems and allow a horse to perform up to its potential. Good hoof care involves maintaining facilities free of sharp objects that my injure a hoof, feeding a balanced diet that optimizes hoof growth and integrity, regular hoof inspection and farrier care. A horse’s feet should be handled regularly from birth. This allows it to get accustomed to having its feet worked with, and frequent observation will help caregivers recognize problems early. In general, a horse’s hooves will need to be trimmed every six to 12 weeks by a farrier in order to remove excessive growth and to ensure proper balance. The exact interval will depend on how fast the hooves grow, the horse’s activity and the terrain to which it is exposed. Overgrown and imbalanced feet will predispose the horse to a variety of problems, including thrush, a bacterial infection of the foot; hoof cracks, and lameness due to abnormal stress on joints and soft tissues. Shoeing horses is not usually necessary unless hoof wear is greater than hoof growth, resulting in lameness.
Taking care of horses does not need to be complicated. A solid health-care program will help keep your horse free of disease and allow it to live a happier, longer life. Preventing problems makes more sense than treating them. Working with your veterinarian and/or extension agent will help make the most of your horse’s health-care program.