Why Do Horses Need Hooves Trimmed: Need to Know Facts?


Image Credit: Horse Hooves from Pxfuel

Horse hooves are dynamic in nature, and they continue to grow like human hair and nails. If not trimmed and on time, the hooves can overgrow and create issues for the horse.

Horses need their hooves trimmed to keep them balanced and healthy. Hooves play a crucial role in maintaining the physical health status of horses. So, the hooves need to be shaped from time to time, regardless if they are shoed or not. 

So, trimming of horse hooves is an essential part of horses’ health management. But other facts need to be taken care of if you are thinking of cutting, trimming, and shaping your horse’s hooves. 

Let us shed light on those key facts.

How often do horses need their hooves trimmed?

Every domestic horse needs regular trimming of its hooves. Usually, the hooves grow at about 6 to 10 millimetres every four weeks. So, how often should you trim your horse’s hooves?

It is often agreed upon that horse hooves need to be effectively trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks. That being said, the timing can vary depending on the season, the terrain the horses stand and work, and whether or not they wear shoes. So, the frequency would be different for different horses.

You need to take care of the above-stated factors while deciding the frequency of trimming sessions for your horse. To make it easy for you, we have listed the factors separately below:

·        Season:

In the summer months, horse hooves should be trimmed every 4- 6 weeks. However, during the winter season, the time can be extended between 6- 10 weeks.

·        Terrain:

If your horse experiences a wet environment, it would have a faster hoof growth. So, you may need to visit a farrier more often. On the other hand, in dry terrain, the horse is more prone to hoof cracks, which you need to take care of. However, a dry environment will deter the growth of hooves. Therefore, you should check the hooves regularly to determine when you will need to visit the farrier. 

·        With and without horseshoes: 

A shoed horse should visit the farrier every 4- 6 weeks. This frequency changes in the case of barefoot horses to 6- 10 weeks.

How do I know if my horse needs his feet trimmed?

Image Credit: Trimming your horse hooves from Pxhere

This question often haunts horse owners and carers, especially if they are new in the field. However, there are many signs which tell if a horse needs feet trimming session.

The earliest sign that can tell you its trimming time is the shape of the horse’s feet. The formation, angle, and length of an overgrown hoof will differ from a healthy one. To know if your horse’s feet need a trim, you must check them regularly.

The signs that will tell you to call a farrier to trim your horse’s feet are:

  • A cracked foot
  • An oval-shaped toe
  • A bent hoof
  • A broken back hoof-pastern angle
  • Clubfoot

What happens if you don’t trim horse hooves?

Hooves are essential for horses. They not only assist them in walking, running, and carrying loads but also maintain their health. So, keeping them regularly is a must.

If you do not trim horse hooves, they will grow longer and longer. In addition, a heavily overgrown hoof tends to twist around, making it almost impossible for the horse to walk. There’s more; an untrimmed, overgrown hoof is a painful one, which, if not cut or trimmed, may even make a horse go lame.

Untrimmed and uncared hooves are unappealing. They look odd and can affect the overall physical health of a horse. 

Why do wild horses not need their hooves trimmed?

It is a common thing for domestic horses to get their hooves trimmed regularly. But this is not the case for wild horses.

Wild horses are always on the run, and the rough and unparalleled terrains automatically trim their hooves. This way, they maintain their natural hoof shape and do not need them trimmed separately by humans. On the other hand, domestic horses do not get the scope to run or walk freely for long-distance, so they require regular hoof trimming. 

What are the proper ways to trim horse hooves?

Image Credit: Cleaning horse hooves before trimming by John (CC BY-SA 2.0) from Flickr

Horse hoof trimming can be a demanding job. While untrimmed hooves can cause havoc to the horses, too much cutting or trimming them can also have damaging impacts. So, you need to be extremely careful while doing the job.

Some essential guidelines to trim horse hooves are:

  • Gather the needed tools and equipment
  • Soak the hooves for at least 15- 20 minutes to moisten them
  • Clean the hooves before trimming them
  • Make sure your horse is standing calmly and comfortably 
  • Start trimming by lifting the front legs initially 
  • Cut off the overgrown hoof wall
  • File the hoof wall
  • Cut dead flesh from sole and frog

However, before starting the trimming session, you must have explicit knowledge of the hoof parts and how much trimming your horse needs. This will help you avoid any over-trimming.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, regular trimming of horse hooves can help the horses to walk, run, and carry loads better. Also, well-trimmed hooves look good aesthetically and help in improving the tissue structure. So, it is crucial for horse owners and carers to inspect their horses’ feet daily and go for a trimming session whenever necessary. 

A well-shaped toe means ensuring a (better) working horse!

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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