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Build a Better Hoof Part 2 -- Basic Hoof Care

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If you read Part 1 of our "Build a Better Hoof" blog series, welcome back! If you missed Part 1, we covered the 4 basic factors of healthy hooves, and if you have a few minutes, you might find it interesting. 

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In Part 2, we'll discuss the basics of hoof care, and how they contribute to not only your horse's hoof health, but her overall health and wellness.

Picking the Hoof.  Most experts agree, the most important thing you can do to care for your horse's hooves is to pick them regularly, for two reasons.  The first (and most obvious) is to remove debris from the hoof to keep it clean and free from irritants.  The second reason that picking the hoof is so important, however, is that it forces you to regularly inspect your ho220px HoofPick resized 600rse's hooves for infections and other potentially dangerous diseases (most of which we'll be covering in Part 3 of our series), as well as for problems with your horse's shoes including sprung or shifted shoes and risen clinches (if your horse is shod).

When should you pick your horse's feet? Ideally before and after each ride, as well as before turning him out and when you bring him in at night.  You'll be checking for (and removing) everything from small stones to mud, manure and any other packed material.  Some people have the misconception that picking is the farrier's job, but letting your horse go that long between pickings can create a situation in which problems can go undetected for days or weeks, allowing serious conditions time to develop.  Be sure to pick your horse's hooves yourself each day.

Using a hoof pick, you'll clean every crevice in the horse's hoof, working from heel to toe and paying particular attention to the area between the frog and the bars.  For step-by-step detailed instructions on picking your horse's feet, we like this illustrated guide from wikiHow.

Hoof Dressing.  As we mentioned in Part 1 of our series, a hoof dressing like Corona Hoof Dressing can play an important role in maintaining proper moisture balance in the hoof.  A hoof that is too dry can become hard, brittle, and easily cracked. If your horse's hooves are dry and need a helping hand due to nutritional or environmental factors, a hoof dressing can help to prevent the hoof from drying out, cracking, or splitting, which in turn helps to prevent lost shoes, tender feet, and other problems that can result from hooves that are too dry.

Manna Pro offers Corona Hoof Dressing, which is made with Lanolin to preserve moisture balance in the coronet, horny wall, frog, sole, and heels.  It's ideal for everyday use and can be used efficiently in a hoof pack when needed.

Exercise. You might not associate exercising your horse with hoof health (and in fact you might even think that riding could introduce some dangers to the hoof), but the blood circulation generated by exercise is critical to hoof growth.  Horses that are stalled miss out on the important circulation of blood to the frog, keeping it stimulated and healthy.

farrier visit resized 600Establishing regular farrier visits.  The individual needs of your breed and your unique horse will dictate the frequency of farrier visits, but the importance of maintaining a schedule cannot be over-emphasized.  Most experts recommend visits every 6-8 weeks as a standard schedule, but your vet and farrier will help you determine what is right for you and your horse.

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