I am almost out of one kind of hoof packing, and thinking about switching to another, or possibly using both for different situations. This got me thinking about all the stuff I use on Eli’s feet. I know hoof care routines vary greatly from horse to horse and depend to a certain extent on whether the horse is barefoot, shod all around, or only in front, and how they are shod. It also depends on the ground the horse stands on or works on, which changes in different parts of the country and from riding venue to riding venue. And of course the weather makes a difference, too.
Eli is shod all around, turned out on a dry lot, works primarily on a sand/clay mix and sometimes grass if the fields haven’t hardened from lack of rain, and lives in a deeply-bedded stall (with wood shavings) outside of those other activities. The ground in Central Texas is predominately rocky, coupled with this pretty unpleasant dirt that turns to gummy black mud in wet weather. I don’t see going completely barefoot as an option here, not for a working horse. Eli has also been lucky enough to have a pretty damn good farrier for many years, and recently has transitioned to another pretty damn good farrier (so far) because damn good farrier #1 moved to Florida (which makes me so sad, but damn good farrier #2 worked with damn good farrier #1 before taking over horses). Currently, Eli wears aluminum (yes, I know he is not a hunter) in front and his RF has a pad, and he wears steel on his hinds, with small trailers. He doesn’t like to grow heel.
So what can I do day to day to take care of his feet? In addition to a daily supplement that has biotin in it (which actually really works on hooves and coat), I use 4 things on a regular basis to take care of Eli’s hooves.
- Hoof pick. Not optional. Use daily.
- Absorbine Hooflex 2-3 times a week on his hoof, and occasionally on his soles & frogs
- Corona ointment on his coronary band and on any random grabs, which he inevitably has, even wearing bell boots 24-7 now
- Hoof packing after an intensive workout or a show, or if the ground or footing is unusually hard, or if the weather has been persistently dry and the horny tissue of his soles starts to get too dry and flaky
Up until recently, I had only really ever used Forshner’s for packing his feet. There are lots of other ways to pack a hoof, such as with a sweat, or a poultice, or a drawing salve, or with another brand of hoof packing. I had minimal experience with Magic Cushion, another Absorbine product, but I could see how well it worked, and picked up a tub of it yesterday to pack Eli’s feet with after intensive workouts, after chatting with a few friends who use the product. Magic Cushion is significantly more expensive than Forshner’s, so for problems with just dryness, I am going to stick with Forshner’s and use Magic Cushion more sparingly, specifically for the workouts that involve a lot of jumping.
So there are a lot of other hoof potions and whatnot out there, like Farrier’s Formula (supplement), or Keratex (a whole line of various products, the hoof hardener being the one I hear the most about) , or Hoofmaker (conditioner) … I could go on. I have used Thrush Buster, Rainmaker, and Tuff Stuff in the past, along with Venice turpentine and pine tar and Epsom salt paste to pack (not all at once) …. There is SO MUCH out there for the hoof and so much that the hoof needs to be healthy. Not to mention so much that can go wrong! I heard from a vet a long time ago that one client had used so much Venice turpentine to toughen up her horse’s soles that the sole showed up like bone on an x-ray, which is clearly taking it way too far and completely undesirable.
So now what I want to know is: what is your hoof care routine?