How to Clean a Horse's Hooves
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How to Clean a Horse’s Hooves [step-by-step guide with pictures]

Paying special attention to cleaning your horse’s hooves is critical for horse owners when maintaining their equine hoof health. 

Cleaning a horse’s hooves is a fairly simple process that almost anyone can do if they have the proper tools and techniques. A horse pick and brush are required. Gently lift the horse’s leg, inspect the hoof, and then gently clean the dirt out of the hoof grooves.

A horse can lose its life if their hooves are not taken care of. Healthy hooves are vital for a horse and must be ensured via proper care and regular cleaning.

what is cleaning a horse's hoof called

This article is going to provide a step-by-step how-to guide so you can ensure you’re cleaning your horse’s feet in the best way possible!

Introduction to Horse Hoof Care

Our horse’s hooves need daily care and attention to maintain their optimal health

The most important thing you can do for your horse is to make sure its hooves are clean and free from infection. 

Horse Hoof Care

A requirement for good hoof care is by picking their feet out every day and providing a clean environment. 

You want to also make sure you keep your horse’s stall and paddock or pastures clean in addition to cleaning out their feet. 

A dirty environment breeds bacteria and problems, but this can be managed by performing small, daily cleaning tasks of cleaning and organizing.

Steps to Clean a Horse’s Hooves

Steps to Clean a Horse’s Hooves

Below is a quick step-by-step guide on how to clean horses’ hooves.

  1. Make sure you have the proper tools (listed below)
  2. Approach your horse slowly, from the side using a calm voice and gentle touch
  3. Stand with your back to the front of the horse
  4. Slowly run your hand down the horse’s leg to the foot/hoof area
  5. Gently left your horse’s hoof off the ground
  6. Inspect the hoof looking for cracks, cuts, and anything unusual. Pay careful attention to the hoof wall and the softer underside.
  7. Use the hoof pick to gently remove dirt and debris from the inner parts of the hoof
  8. Use a brush to finish cleaning off the hoof
  9. Use a cloth to wipe the outside of the hoof
  10. Praise your horse with kind soothing words

Required Horse Hoof Cleaning Tools

There are many different products and things you can have to help keep your horse’s hooves clean and healthy. 

Horse Hoof Cleaning Tools

Here is a List of products and tools you should keep handy for hoof cleaning:

  • Hoof pick

    This is the tool you use to pick out your horse’s feet.
  • Hoof conditioner
    Used for conditioning the outer portion of the hoof which is called the hoof wall.
  • Rags
    For cleaning and scrubbing out the hoof and wiping the hoof wall.
  • Clean warm water
    Sometimes you will need to wet an area of the hoof to get it clean.
  • Farrier’s knife
    Used for removing small stones or other foreign objects in your horse’s hooves.
  • Stiff brush
    Helpful in removing hard-to-get-off dirt and debris and useful in cleaning the underside of the hoof.

How to Pick Up a Horse’s Hoof

When you go to pick up your horse’s feet, you could have a reasonably easy time doing so, but occasionally horses may not want to pick up their feet. 

How to Pick Up a Horse's Hoof

Picking up the foot for well-trained horses

  1. Take your hand and run it alongside your horse’s shoulder. Run your hand down your horse’s leg.
  2. Cluck, and they should lift their foot.
  3. Begin picking out the feet.

Picking up the foot of a horse who isn’t as well-trained

Make sure you feel comfortable working with the horse and seek help if you feel that you or your horse may be put in danger at any moment. 

  1. Make sure you and your horse are both in a safe spot.
  2. Run your hand down their shoulder to their lower leg. Notice the tendon running behind the cannon bone.

    If you have problems with your horse picking their foot up, you can gently squeeze at the base of the cannon bone where it meets the fetlock.

    To find this spot run your fingers down the tendon and then to the bottom of the fetlock.
  3. You may also need to cluck or gently lean your body weight onto your horse’s shoulder in order for them to pick up its leg.
  4. Begin cleaning out the hoof.

Hoof Cleaning Tips

When you are cleaning your horse’s hoof, there are areas where you will want to make sure they are cleaned out very well.

Hoof Cleaning Tips

There are also portions of the hoof you don’t want to try cleaning due to the horse being sensitive in those spots.

Hoof Areas to Make Sure You Clean Out Well

  1. The bars

    The portion of the hoof with deep grooves alongside the frog.
  2. The sole

    You can take the scrubbing end of your hoof pick or hoof brush and wipe this area to remove any caked mud or dirt.
  3. The hoof wall

    Take your hoof brush and knock off and brush off any dirt, mud, or debris. Then take a warm, wet rage and rinse your horse’s hoof off.

    You can then apply a hoof conditioner if your farrier has recommended you do so or you feel that it would benefit the hoof. 

Hoof Areas to Avoid Cleaning

The good news regarding your horse’s feet is that most of the hoof has no feeling. There is one spot mainly on the equine foot that has feeling to it, the frog. 

The frog is the V-shaped or triangular portion of the horse’s foot located with deep bars on either side. 

Things to Look For When Cleaning Horse’s Hooves

You should always be watching and looking out for problems or potential causes of lameness when cleaning your horse’s feet.

Some common hoof problems are loose shoes, white line disease, improperly placed nails, or when a horse throws a shoe.

Abscesses can also be a problem you should look out for. You will want to contact your vet or farrier if you notice any abnormalities. 

Related Hoof Cleaning Questions

What is Equine Thrush?

Equine Thrush is the name given to the condition when your horse’s hoof has been attacked by hoof-eating bacterial microbes.

This can be a serious condition and you should contact your horse vet immediately if you suspect it. Equine Thrush is most noticeable by a foul smell around the horses’ hoofs.

What is a horse’s digital pulse?

The term digital pulse refers to the horse’s pulse as measured (or felt) from the blood running through a horse’s hoof.

A vet or Farrier will use their fingers, placing them just above the fetlock, to measure.

Why does the digital pulse matter?

An abnormal digital pulse can indicate an injury, infection, or some other medical issue your horse is suffering from.

What is a normal digital pulse for a horse?

An adult horse will have a normal digital pulse in the range of 30 to 40 beats per minute.

How can I maintain healthy horse hooves?

Daily care and maintenance are the best way to ensure the health of your horse’s feet. 

Where do I buy hoof care equipment?

You can buy everything you will need for hoof care from your local feed store, tack store, online, or even from your farrier. 

When should I pick my horse’s feet?

You should pick your horse’s hooves at least once a day.

Also, pick their hooves every time you bring them in from the pasture, take them for a ride or walk, or go somewhere with them. This will keep your horse’s hooves healthy and safe. 

Properly Caring For Your Horse’s Hooves is Vital

Taking good care of your horse’s feet is important and can easily be included in your daily care routine. 

By practicing good hoof hygienic practices and checking daily, you can prevent many common problems and further your bond with your horse. 

We hope that this how-to-hoof care guide has been helpful for you in learning how to care for your horse’s feet properly.

How to Clean a Horse's Hooves

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