The early part of 2011 brought glorious sunshine, but the effects of the warm weather are not all positive. The hard ground caused by lack of rain can lead to hoof problems such as solar bruising and joint conditions linked to concussive stress. Here, the experts provide their essential summer hoofcare advice.
Farriers and veterinarians alike are witnessing increased incidence of bruising due to concussion on the hard ground
The natural hoof care market is displaying enormous growth, say the experts at Trelawne Equine. If your customers’ horses are feeling sore and ‘footy’, is now the time to offer them solutions that support a barefoot regime?
Image courtesy of Kevin Bacon’s
Caring for hooves during summer Across the whole of England and Wales, we have just experienced the driest spring since 1990, says Claire Brown of Handmade Shoes (UK) Ltd, distributor for Kevin Bacon’s. Some believe this trend is set to continue this summer with warmer than usual temperatures and below average rainfall, and the negative impact on horses feet and limbs has already become apparent. The appearance of unsightly splits and cracks in hoof walls increases the risk of ‘lost’ shoes and, potentially, further damage to the hoof wall. In addition, farriers and veterinarians alike are witnessing increased incidence of bruising, amongst other ailments, due to concussion on the hard ground. Water and hydration levels need to be carefully balanced. Too little water and the rigid keratin within the hoof walls becomes dry and brittle as it no longer has the flexibility and ‘elasticity’ to perform the demands placed upon it. Too much, when we experience particularly wet conditions, and the hoof walls and sole become too soft. During dry weather the sole and frog will usually thicken and harden to naturally assist the hoof to protect itself. Hooves will continue to grow and keeping up with regular farrier appointments will help to keep any cracks under control and prevent the hooves from becoming unnecessarily damaged. Horse owners should be particularly aware riding at speed, or jumping, on hard ground and of turning out and riding on uneven or ‘poached’ ground so as to avoid unnecessary risk of bruising the foot. Topical applications applied once or twice daily can help to provide moisture in particularly dry conditions and regular use has been shown to be beneficial. Owners should talk to their farrier and express any concern – he or she may advise a shorter shoeing cycle temporarily to help reduce the risk of lost shoes. Recommended from the Kevin Bacon’s Equine Care Product Range is Kevin Bacon’s Hoof Dressing. Formulated to apply moisture in dry conditions and to protect the hooves from becoming saturated in wet conditions, making it suitable for year round application. It is 100% natural and can help to protect the hooves from bacterial infections. 26
Many experts believe that horseshoes can potentially increase concussive damage, because shoes hold the frog off the ground, thus reducing blood circulation through the hoof and contributing to physiological damage to the supporting limbs and structures. Horseshoes are also said by many experts to load excess weight on the hoof wall, known as ‘peripheral loading’ – the greater the peripheral loading, the worse the blood flow throughout the hoof capsule. Barefoot advocates maintain that by taking the horse’s shoes off, the frog is no longer held off the ground, so the ‘peripheral load’ is relieved by transferring some of the load to the horse’s sole. Because solar loading appears to promote blood flow through the foot, this promotes a strong, healthy hoof – many owners of barefoot horses cannot believe how much ‘freer’ and less ‘footy’ their horses are once they have made the transition to barefoot. Many barefoot advocates use horse boots, to protect their horses’ feet in certain circumstances. Mike Chawke of Ireland’s Little Farm Stud breeds competition horses and is an RF(BngC), MF(IMFA), CE-F qualified farrier. “Even as an experienced farrier with over thirty five years’ experience, I am not convinced that all equines need nailed-on shoes,” Mike says. “Why not advise that your customers leave their animal in its natural state, with support from an experienced hoofcare professional of course, and simply fit hoof boots when they ride?” Katie-Marie Palmer helps with a horse called Remi, who recently made the transition from shod to bare. “We bought some EasyCare Trail boots, which are really simple to put on and take off, and also used comfort pads in them, which offer added shock absorption for when you’re riding on hard, concussive surfaces. “Remi started landing ‘heel first’ as soon as we put her in them, which was great as she had been very much ‘toe first’ when shod. We cannot rate the boots highly enough,” she says. Co proprietor of natural hoof care wholesaler, Trelawne Equine, Lucy Nicholas, says there’s currently a large market for natural hoofcare products. “The natural hoof care market is one of the few in the equine industry displaying enormous growth, even in these difficult economic times, and booting horses instead of shoeing is a very economical alternative for horse owners,” Lucy adds. “There are also many obvious physical advantages to horses being kept shoe-free.”
Equestrian Business Monthly
Published on Jun 27, 2011