Hoofing it

 
By Connie Orcutt • Published: March 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves
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To discover one of your horse’s most important assets, you need look no farther than their hooves.

If you can do just one thing to keep your horse’s hooves in tip-top shape, it should be to frequently clean out his feet… also known as picking out. This lets you remove dirt, manure and small stones and get a close look at the frog, the triangular rubbery underside of the hoof.

While you’re at it, keep an eye out for abnormalities. A bad odor and discharge from the frog could be signs of a bacterial infection called thrush. Puncture wounds and hoof cracks are common and can be associated with painful abscesses. And warm hooves with strong pulses can signal serious problems.

If something is amiss, call your veterinarian or farrier before small problems become big ones. Remember, your horse is only as strong as his hooves.