Picking horses feet out… Sooooo much more than just picking horses feet out!

07 Jan 2024

We all know that picking out our horse’s feet is an essential part of routine care. Picking out the hooves helps remove dirt, mud, stones, and other debris that can accumulate in the hoof clefts. This prevents discomfort and potential injury.
Ideally all horses hooves should be picked out at least once a day, if they are stabled, possibly twice. You should also pick your hoses feet out before you ride them, so in an ideal world they will be picked out many times!
Consistency is key to maintaining healthy hooves. Remember, a clean and well-maintained hoof contributes to your horse’s overall comfort and soundness.
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But, there are so many other daily benefits that may not initially come to mind, making hoof picking an essential part of your horse’s care:
1. Preventing Thrush:


Regular cleaning reduces the risk of thrush, a bacterial infection that affects the frog. Thrush can cause a foul-smelling discharge and lameness. The more serious condition known as canker, can resemble thrush in the early stages, so beware.
2. Checking legs:


Palpate each leg for any unusual lumps, bumps, scabs and cuts. Running your hand down the leg to pick the foot up will help you know what is normal for your horse, feeling your horse’s legs on a daily basis will ensure you are familiar with them so that it becomes clear when there is the start of a new swelling or wound.
3. Promoting Blood Flow:


Picking out the hooves stimulates circulation to the sensitive structures within the hoof. This promotes good overall hoof health.
4. Early Detection of Issues:


a. Inspecting the Hoof: While picking out, you can examine the hoof for any abnormalities, injuries, or signs of disease, such a gravel in a soggy white line.
b. Detecting Bruises and Abscesses: Bruises, abscesses, or foreign objects lodged in the sole can be identified early. Prompt attention prevents complications.
5. Identify any stiffness:


Picking up legs daily will unearth any stiffness or unwillingness to flex a leg. Your horse may always be a bit stiff behind, but again, it’s so important to know what is normal. If your horse is reluctant to pick up a front leg, he/she may be sore in the other front foot.
6. Young horses:


Daily picking up of legs is a great early lesson for when they need to see the farrier or the vet. It is not the farrier or vet’s job to teach an unruly youngster to pick its feet up!
7. Foot abscess:


If your horse develops a foot abscess it will need daily dressing. This is much easier if they are used to picking their feet up.
8. Checking shoes:


Check for loose nails in shoes and loose shoes. You can then call the farrier before you lose one just before a show!