Summer Hoof Care

British summer weather takes a toll on our horse’s hooves, causing a repeated wet-dry cycle of conditions which leads to the hooves weakening. 

The dry weather combined with showers, thunderstorms and frequent bathing/hosing down leads to cracking, chipping and peeling of the hooves and are key indications that their integrity has been compromised. These issues if left untreated can escalate into further problems.

Weakening of hooves can be worsened by working on harder surfaces. Certain types of hoof conformation are more prone to developing cracks or chips, for example those with long toes, underrun heels or thin hoof walls (such as Thoroughbred types).

How to maintain healthy hooves through the summer

Making some small adjustments to your horse’s care and management and being mindful of hoof care will keep his hooves looking and feeling their best ready for the competition season or for long hacks in the sun.

Step 1: Speak to your farrier

Your farrier is the best person to advice on assessing and maintaining your horse’s hoof health, whether your horse is trimmed or shod. When properly balanced, your horse’s foot will be less prone to cracking as it should land the correct way. Hooves tend to grow more quickly through the summer - regular trimming will keep the hooves balanced and maintain health. Tailoring your horse’s shoeing or trims to its needs, the time of year and amount of work done will ultimately keep your horse's hooves healthier

Step 2: Keep moisture changes to a minimum

It’s tricky in the UK, but keep moisture changes to a minimum. Sponging your horse down after exercise rather than hosing, keep an eye on fields after rain for flooded areas and use absorbent bedding which will contain the moisture rather than spread it through the bed.

Step 3: Check your horse is receiving correct nutritional support

Feed a balanced diet, and a hoof supplement if necessary. The health of hooves will be supported best by including key nutrients in the diet. Hoof supplements typically contain biotin, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C, lysine and MSM, all nutrients which directly support hoof health and promote high-quality growth.

Step 4: Use a hoof conditioner

Condition and hydrate the hooves by stabilising their moisture content. We recommend using hoof conditioners which are designed to allow the hoof to breathe (such as NAF PROFEET Hoof Moist). Hoof oils will not help with the conditioning and hydrating of the hooves, they just give a polished look.

We would recommend using a hoof conditioner daily on both the outside of the hoof and on the sole, maintaining the moisture content of the hoof as a whole.

Step 5: Keep up with daily care

Pick out your horse’s hooves daily, especially before riding. Keeping the hooves clean will prevent bruising from trapped stones and help to quickly identify conditions such as thrush or abscesses. Don’t overlook the grooves on either side of the frog – this is typically where stones and bacteria tend to collect.

Get into the habit of checking for uneven wear, either of the shoes or of the hoof itself if your horse is unshod. Check the hoof walls too: are the nails starting to rise? Are there any new cracks? Are there any warm areas?