Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hoof Dressing

Jesse sent an e-mail asking about hoof dressing. Do you use hoof dressing? Do you think hoof dressing helps the horse’s hooves? If you use hoof dressing, what brand do you recommend?”

Jesse, I think that sometimes we as horse owners have a tendency to interfere with nature. Sometimes we can cause damage to the horse’s health, usually with feed and supplements,….sometimes we can manipulate things for the better and sometimes we can’t.

Some horses will never be roping horses, others will never be endurance racers. When it comes to a horse's feet, they are as they is. While a good farrier can make the feet as best as they'll be, there is not a lot you can do to influence hoof health other than to provide good consistent feed, clean the feet regular and get that horse routine farrier care.

I think most of the evidence, as well as opinions, are that topical hoof dressings don’t do as much as advertised. Most horses don't need hoof dressing, and I'm talking about the hoof dressing that is used primarily to add moisture to hooves and not the "shoe black" type used to dress hooves up for shows. Hoof health and soundness is primarily dependent upon genetics and competent trimming. A really good farrier can optimize a horse's feet through regular trimming.

Having said all that, I do have one horse that I have been using hoof dressing on. I wrote a previous article on a coronet band injury that one of my horses had, probably from rolling and clipping-cutting his inside front left coronet band right where the hoof starts to grow out of. This injury created a cleft or cut in the hoof and as it grew out, over many months getting close to the ground and his shoe, it creating a weaker spot.

I have been treating this cleft with an expedient hoof dressing made of mineral oil, tea tree oil and lanolin so the hoof (and cleft) doesn’t get too dry and crack more.

Plus this horse has really thin hoof walls, so on one rear foot the hoof starts cracking some where the shoe is nailed. During the driest parts of the year I will treat this with hoof dressing to keep it from cracking or splitting so much.

Am I doing any good with the hood dressing? For that application on that one horse, I think I am, but I think using hoof dressing on my other horses would most likely not do much of anything. 

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