Hoof Care Routine

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.

forshners

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.

Corona-Ointment_2

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.

  1. Hoof pick. Not optional. Use daily.
  2. Absorbine Hooflex 2-3 times a week on his hoof, and occasionally on his soles & frogs
  3. Corona ointment on his coronary band and on any random grabs, which he inevitably has, even wearing bell boots 24-7 now
  4. 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.

hooflex

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.

magiccushion

So now what I want to know is: what is your hoof care routine?

28 thoughts on “Hoof Care Routine

  1. Your regime is intense. I need to step up my game! I use keratex, have used turpentine, and actually in the past have used sore no more poultice on feet. It’s easy because you don’t have to wrap if you can’t. Magic cushion is my jam but as you said really expensive! I need to try the other stuff you mentioned.

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    1. Forshner’s in the 4lb size is like $15 less than Magic Cushion in the 4lb size. It never dries out, either. And I don’t wrap Forshner’s because it is tacky/sticky enough to stay in on its own.

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  2. Hoof care regime used to be minimal because there were no problems. Just a swab of conditioner once a week across the coronet band and picking feet was pretty much it. Both boys have been shod most of their entire lives. Yankee could not live without shoes, I’m convinced, so he stays shod.

    Though B, expert at tossing shoes, I’ve recently transitioned to going barefoot. Still not sure if it will work, but we are gonna try!

    Daily right now, B gets picked, and swabbed with Durasole (similar to keratex, but WAY cheaper, holy hell) for strength. Once a week conditioner across the coronet too. If B would let me soak his feet, I would after a hard workout, but he won’t stand in the buckets and FREAKS.

    I LOVE Magic Cushion, and he was on it for weeks when he was super sore after pulling his shoes one time (out of many). That stuff is amazing and actually stayed in for me when I used sawdust to pack it. No wrapping required if they’re stalled. I thought it was a reasonable price..I think it was $24 for a GIANT tub of it. It lasted me 6 weeks so far and I was using it every other day & its still not empty.

    I aso second Biotin. Nothing has worked besides Biotin and IMO Farriers Formula wasn’t worth the money. Biotin forever!

    Sorry for the freaking novel, omg

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    1. No, I am so glad you responded! I know you’re transitioning B to barefoot and staying on top of that s and I hope it works out. I was EXTREMELY impressed the few times I used Magic Cushion on a horse with known hoof issues and it was pretty much actually like magic. Since Eli is declining to provide us with a heel, I thought it might feel better than the Forshner’s after a jump school. I second your biotin forever!

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  3. As an eventer, Magic Cushion has become my best friend. That and Sore No More poultice. And ice. Other than hoof pack when necessary, I dontt really do a whole lot for feet except make sure to have a good farrier.

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  4. My hoof care routine is very basic – pick out daily, and slather in Hooflex a few days a week, or when the pony will be bathed to prevent the hooves going through too many extreme wet/dry cycles. Dino is only shod up front, so I will touch up his bare hind feet with a rasp if he gets any little cracks or chips to keep them from growing larger before he’s due for a proper trim. I’ve never used a hoof packing material, but did use turpentine when I first got him and he was barefoot all around and horribly footsore on the frozen ground.

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    1. Oh, man, I did not even think about frozen ground hoof care, because that’s not a thing here. Sounds like Dino has really good feet otherwise! Painting the feet before a bath is a great tip.

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  5. Luckily Roger isn’t thrushy, he just throws shoes like it’s his job….OMG SO ANNOYING. But, I have noticed a significant improvement in his hoof quality and length of wearing shoes with our current combination of stuff, so here goes: always, always, always pick the feet. Always. If for no other reason, then to make sure Roger is still wearing both shoes (steel up front and barefoot on the back). He’s been on a feed-through Farrier’s Formula supplement that I love, and so does our farrier. I know many people are skeptical about hoof supplements but in my personal experience, FF has really helped Roger’s feet become stronger and less typical-Thoroughbredy. Lastly, I’ve been using VT 2-3 times a week for the past month or so, and it has dramatically changed Roger’s soles for the better….in fact, he’s now held both front shoes for 5 straight weeks, which he’s never done before. It’s probably not the most conventional way to help strengthen feet, but it’s what’s working for us for now 🙂

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    1. Any hoof supplement with biotin in it will definitely work. It sounds like Farrier’s Formula really helps Roger. And I have also used Venice turpentine in the past to toughen soles. Maybe you’ll get to a point soon where you won’t have to use it so much–it is so messy! Magic Cushion and Hooflex both have turpentine in them, so you could always switch to that since they are less goopy and sticky. Am I sounding like a hoof nerd yet?

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  6. I am probably the biggest hoof-care slacker in the world. Plus I’m fortunate and my horses have pretty good feet. I pick them out at least once a month. I know, terrible. I grew up on a ranch in Montana and it just wasn’t something I was taught to do so has never quite become a full on habit. My 23yo QH gets Farriers Formula SmartPaks because his feet got gross about 4 years ago. It has made a tremendous difference for him. I will occasionally paint Seashore Acres Sole Paint on his soles, too. When he fox hunted I’d keep his front feed shod, but he’s been retired due to a gaskin lameness so is a pasture ornament with no shoes now. My 9yo TB and 4yo warmblood both stay barefoot and might occasionally get a Magic Cushion, but that might be once or twice per year. If my horses had hoof problems I would step up my game, but since (knock on wood) there haven’t been any issues I’m just going to keep on keeping on.

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  7. Moe and Gina have tough feet that withstand the Oklahoma heat and dryness without a problem (for which I am ETERNALLY grateful). Gina gets shoes on her fronts during hunting season, because every fixture’s terrain is rocky. I pick hooves every time I’m at the barn and will occasionally slather RainMaker on if it’s been especially dry.

    When Gina had a bruised sole last year, I used Magic Cushion for a few days. It really helped- she was back to being sound within a week. I’ve found that it’s fairly easy to apply, but I have to wrap the hooves for it to stay in when they’re barefoot.

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    1. Sometimes I wonder if the prolonged dryness is actually worse for hooves than wetness? I think the worst is a frequent fluctuation between wet and dry so that the hooves are expanding and contracting more frequently. It can really screw up nail holes, but maybe it’s not a problem for barefoot horses?

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  8. I’m so grateful for this post AND the comments on it because I am super uninformed when it comes to hooves! My hoof care routine is: pick Frankie’s hooves before and after every ride. That’s pretty much it. Does putting on hoof polish before going in the show ring count?? I slap on some hoof conditioner a couple times a month when I think of it- I’m lucky that he’s only thrown one shoe since I got him and his feet are pretty sturdy. I’m going to file all this info away though just in case something happens (or let’s be honest, for WHEN something happens, because horses.)

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  9. I’ve really love the Magic Cushion Xtreme, but mostly only use it before and after a show or race. I like the Sore No More Poultice for after they are shod or for when they are just a little stingy. My farrier in Arizona recommended Vapco hoof products for a dressing and hoof freeze. The Bear Cat dressing and the Cobra freeze have worked very well, especially in drier climates. I also feed Feed Farrier’s Formula. Honestly, these have all worked well enough for me that I haven’t tried many other brands, so I don’t have a lot of experience with other products to compare the ones that I use to.

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  10. My OTTB has stereotypical terrible feet. He has biotin in his multi-supp and I had to paint his soles with sole toughener that my vet hospital makes. Basically just some sort of iodine mixture. I haven’t packed hooves before but I am curious about trying it!

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    1. Magic Cushion has a little iodine and turpentine in it, I wonder if it could work for you in the future once your vet hospital is satisfied the iodine mixture is no longer necessary?

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  11. My mare has pretty solid feet that, aside from maybe one or two bruises over the past four years, have needed no real TLC. Looks like we might be losing our farrier now too tho, which has me kinda freakin out bc he’s done her feet for so long and they’ve been soo good…. Sigh.

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    1. I may have privately had a meltdown about my farrier moving … but current farrier pretty much has done the exact same job. Hope you have some luck in finding a new one.

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  12. Heyyy this is super helpful. Definitely going to set aside some time when I’m not at work to go through all of this and get some ideas. Val has the same issue with refusing to grow heel, so I’ve been meaning to look into some options, since current farrier doesn’t seem to be super proactive about offering suggestions.

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  13. Unfortunately for me and Libby, she’s having a bout of soreness from throwing a shoe. So it was time to break out the Big Black Ice boot and the magna paste.

    I’ve been packing and icing since Saturday and will do a recheck on this Saturday to see how she is. Finger crossed she feels better!

    On a regular basis though our normal routine changes quite a bit depending on the weather. depending on how wet it is I’ll use the Keratex gel, or Farriers barrier. I pick her feet everyday though, and she gets Horseshoers secret with soft tissue support in her feed.

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