Monday, July 7, 2008

Dry Hoof Season

My son and I took all the pictures for this post with his birthday gift: A Sony Cyber-shot W170 digital camera. I wanted to see if its 10.1 megapixels were any better than the 6.1 megapixels on my old Kodak EasyShare DX7630. Here's a picture of his Sony taken by my Kodak:

Now onto the real subject of this post: Dry hooves. The other day I was out riding my gelding and noticed that he was tripping and stumbling more than usual. I should make a habit of picking out his hooves before riding, but sometimes I end up doing it after the ride when his tripping and stumbling reminds me to see what's going on with his hooves. I found that a layer of the V-shaped ridge of his hoof called the bars had dried up, peeled off, and was hanging like a flap from a tab of skin. He was literally tripping over his own feet each time that flap flipped the wrong way.

I got out my brand new hoof knife only to discover that it was dull. I sharpened it and my husband touched the blade to verify that yes, it was sharp. By the time I got out to cut off that flap, most of it was gone on its own accord, but there were other flaps forming on other hooves. I began trying to cut through them to no avail and figured they could wait another few days for the farrier. I hope he will give me a demonstration on the proper way to use a hoof knife. I can pick hooves, I can use the nippers on a hanging chad, and I can file hooves, but that's about it.

In these pictures I'm just feeling around with my pick to see how much of the flap is pulling away. Note the nice scar on the inside of my forearm. That was when I broke my arm into four pieces coming off a horse -- the same horse whose hoof I'm holding up here. The scar is actually twice that length.

Yes, folks, that is a woman's arm there. I have always had hairy arms. For many, many years as a child I wore long sleeves all year round to avoid getting teased, until the kids began teasing me for wearing long sleeves in 90-degree heat. When I was a teenager I bleached the hair to lighten it up. Now I just don't care. Amazingly, no one else does either. I inherited the arm hair from my father and wear it proudly. My brother, on the other hand, got our mother's arms, which are hair-free. Go figure. But enough about genetics and childhood trauma...

After cleaning out the hooves, I slathered Horseshoer's Secret all over them. Any farrier professionals out there might want to chime in here and let us know if these types of products are truly helpful.

Once the gunk was on, I set the horses loose to get dirt stuck all over their hooves and take a good sniff at them.

And no, my horse isn't a sissy. I wanted to finish off the hot pink SWAT before starting a new jar of clear SWAT to keep the flies off his wound.

Another way I like to keep the horses' hooves moist during the summer months is to leave a puddle of water around the water troughs.

That way when the horses stop in to get a drink at the watering hole, their feet get a drink as well.

Regarding the photographs, that 10.1 megapixel Sony definitely takes better close ups.


Mrs Mom said...

First, what type of hoof knife do you have? I HIGHLY HIGHLY reccomend Anvil Brand's The Knife. The curvature of the blade makes using leverage to your advantage, the edge holds a shaprening incredibly well, and the handle is quite comfortable. If you have a knife with a flat blade, you are asking for trouble trying to use it- which you found out. Gaining any type of leverage with it is tough, and you will not have as much control over where exactly that knife is going, or how DEEP it is going.

As to moistureizers: straight up Pine Tar. Apply to the bottom of the soles.

Heresa tip- a week to just a few days before your next trim appointment, it wont hurt to slather the soles of the hooves with pine tar, and make your wonderful water puddle, to help ease the burden and save a tad on tool life. Just DO NOT put in on the say 24 hours before he is due-- taking the time to de-gunk hooves is a problem, as a lot of time, you can not get all the gunk OFF. It them clogs the tools, and we burn through them faster that way.

With the price of tools these days.... any bit you can help save on them, will also help your hoofcare providers keep the prices just that much lower. ;)

(Oh- forgot... Jeffers Equine carries their version of Anvil Brand's The Knife as well. It should work fantastic for you! And its a bit less expensive.)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mrs. Mom - Gosh, I don't recall the brand of hoof knife. I got it a while ago, but haven't used it until now. I researched the Internet on hoof knives and saw that people did put out a warning that some knives come dull. It's one of those tools that you may as well invest in by getting a good one, so I'll look into Anvil. Thanks for mentioning the pine tar and warning about the timing of using it. I certainly don't want to ruin any of my farrier's tools.

Twinville said...

As a new horse owner I intend to follow up and check all the responses. I always learn something new here. Thanks for this topic, NM.

The close-ups of the hooves were really excellent. Lots of good detail.
I use Horseshoer's Secret, too. And it does seem to help a lot. As you know we both have similar dry, or should I say, parched, climates, so moisturing hooves is a must.
My farrier even requests that before he comes I soak Baby Doll's hooves in water so that he can give me a nice trim and so his tools don't dull-up.

He also recommends the water puddle at the water bucket, but some folks think that it can actually wick the moisture away as it dries. I do it anyway as it does seem to help.

And my farrier says that the HorseShoer's Secret is fine, but says that plain old vegetable or olive oil is about as good.

Just as I have to use gobs of lotion on my own hands and fingernails, I can't not tend to my horse's hooves. If I let them go for more than a few days, I notice sand cracks and nicks as well as the dry underparts.

Hey! That pink SWAT is great for seeing where the stuff ends up. How's his leg healing?

Andrea said...

Dry hooves have been a problem here too. I have always been told to over flow our water troughs so the horses have to stand in the mud/moisture. That helps.
And I always thought it was normal for a horse to "shed" its frog. I might be totaly wrong. I am by no means a hoof expert!! :)

Mrs Mom said...

I am going to try and put up a post today or tomorrow about tools and include pics and where to get them REASONABLY too!

Give the horses a rub from us!

Lulu said...

LOL, I have hairy arms too. In my younger years I even resorted to shaving them. Just like you, I no lnoger care! ;)

Since you are so particular about your horses hooves, you would be sickened by the pictures I just received of a rescue I'm working to bring home. He went 3 years without a trim. The pictures made me physically ill.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Twinville - Bombay's leg is healing fine. The scab has been peeling off, and the new skin underneath is moist, so I'm trying to keep the flies off it.

Andrea - I'm sure it is normal. I just wanted to speed the process along so that he wouldn't be tripping over it.

Mrs. Mom - We'll keep an eye out for your post. For those of you who don't know, Mrs. Mom and her hubby are farriers. Click on her picture to go to her profile. "Oh Horsefeathers..." is her horse blog.

LuLu - Fortunately, my mother coerced me into not shaving the hair on my arms. 3 years without a trim? It's a wonder the horse survived. I'll bet it was locked up in a small pen and starved too.

Mrs Mom said...

Andrea- yep, it is "normal" for frogs, bars, and soles to exfoliate. If you see a flap of frog hanging, it IS ok to remove it. (That way it can not trap debris underneath, and create a home for various forms of bacteria and other nasty little germs.

Pony Girl said...

J over at 20 Meter Circle of Life recommended Pine Tar on her site today, too.
I need to go get something for my horse's hooves, I think I will give the straight pine tar a try.
The idea about the wet ground by the trough is a good one!