One of the primary responsibilities of any horse owner or caretaker is the regular picking of the hooves. The task may seem daunting and at times may be seen as unnecessary but it’s crucial in making sure that the horses have healthy feet and better comfort says Equine America.
Contrary to popular belief, hoof picking isn’t as difficult nor is it only administered by professionals. However, it’s true that utmost care and caution should be practiced. To help you out, we’ve compiled the following guidelines. Read up and learn a thing or two.
- Know the tools of the trade. – The primary goal here is to remove compacted mud, dirt, stone and similar debris. These can cause pain and discomfort when walking and in other instances make the horses prone to infection and injury. There are two primary tools to the task: a pick and a brush. Both must be cleaned before and after use.
- Avoid taking them by surprise. – Prior to picking, horses must be readied otherwise they are likely to get a scare. You might get kicked. Make sure that they are calm and bring them to a secluded area where they are unlikely to get easily distracted. Carefully approach them and gently stroke their shoulders and neck. Give them a warning too such as running one hand down a leg and tapping the back of it.
- Be gentle and don’t rush it. – Start with one side and slowly lift the leg. With practice and routine, the horse may get the hint and automatically lift it themselves otherwise you may gently squeeze above the fetlock.
- Pick carefully. – The goal is to give the animal comfort not injury and to do this one has to be very careful. Use the tools properly. Start removing the compacted debris using the brush. One may also do so using the hands. Use the pick to loosen up the dirt and stones until the horn becomes visible. Never prod or puncture with the pick so as not to hurt the frog. It’s very sensitive and is attached to several nerve endings.
- Repeat the next day. – Equine America and its experts advise owners and caretakers to practice hoof picking on a daily basis particularly before and after taking the animal for a ride. Yes, it’s a regular thing and not some task that you can do when you feel like it. Trust us, your equines will thank you for it.