Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Horse Hoof Care – Foreign Objects in the Hoof

I said in a previous post that sometimes I do not always clean out my horses’ hooves before riding them. I still check the hoof to ensure there is no foreign object in the hoof that has or can cause damage and lame the horse up and to ensure that if that horse is shod (has horseshoes) that they are still on securely.

From time to time when on the trail, especially in the Mountainous or rocky areas, your horse will pickup a rock wedged in the cleft of the frog or may get a sharp object, such as a mesquite thorn or even a nail, stuck into the frog or sole.

Rocks stuck in the hoof, upon repeated hoof strikes on the ground, can cause a bruise to the sole making the horse ouchy or even lame him up with a severe bruise – which we call stone bruises.

I ride mainly in desert areas with a high amount of spiny plant such as various cactus and mesquite bushes - lots of possibilities to get spines into Horse Hooves. Penetrations into hoof soles or frogs is much more serious than a stone bruise as an infection can set in. Sometimes the object breaks off, the sole or frog closes over penetration site and you never know that it occurred. Then suddenly your horse is lame for a few days to a month or even more. You can’t figure it out and weeks or months go by then the object comes out near the coronet band (where the beginnings of the hoof meet the hair on the leg).

Sometimes your shoer will see evidence of a penetration and can dig it out allow the infection to be exposed and you can draw it out using Epson Salts. Best way to use Epson Salts if your horse won’t stand in a bucket of water and Epson Salts is to pack a dripping wet poultice with Epson Salts and place on the hoof covering with a hoof boot.

When on horse back you can usually feel a change in the horse’s gait, clueing you to a possible object stuck in the hoof.

The top picture shows a small rock lodged into the Cleft of the Frog. Sometimes if you are riding in pairs, your partner can look at the hoof of your horse as it comes off the ground to see if it picked up a rock or other object.

The middle picture is a large rock my horse picked up when I was patrolling some mountains looking for poachers. I had to use my knife and another flat rock to act as pry bars to get this rock out as it was lodged very tightly between the inside bars of the shoe. I immediately felt this so my horse did not progress in this condition.

The bottom picture shows a mesquite thorn penetrating the frog. It didn’t penetrate very far and I was able to remove it intact and continue my ride.

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