To say we've had a little bit of rain here in Southern California recently would probably be the biggest understatement of the year! I'm seeing some areas reporting almost 12 inches just in the past three days - yikes!
Anyone who's owned horses for any length of time knows excess moisture and horse hooves don't work well together AT ALL. But when you're area is in the middle of a nasty rain storm (with no relief in sight), it's sometimes truly impossible to keep your horse out of it. So what's a horse girl to do?
I've got you... here are a few of my favorite tips and products for keeping my horse's feet in tip top shape, even in the nastiest of conditions!
Things You Can Do:
Pick out your horses feet every single day. While this may seem like a no-brainer, sometimes, due to work and life schedules, it can be tough to actually get to the barn every day to do this.
Cleaning your horse's feet every day serves several purposes.
Removing excess mud and debris that can build up and cause fungal infections like thrush.
Gives you an opportunity to really inspect your horse's feet and notice little problems before they become big problems. Hooves are more prone to developing problematic cracks, white line disease, and abcesses during wet weather. These problems are much easier for your farrier to manage if they're caught early! See something that you think may develop into a problem? Take a picture and send it to your farrier. Every single farrier I know would rather us clients bug them with little problems often, than we wait until we have a lame horse with a massive problem for them to correct!
If you can't get to the barn every day to pick out and clean your horse's feet, consider teaming up with a friend at the barn! Figure out a schedule and trade grooming days.
If your horse is in a training program or at a full service facility, this service should be included but never hesitate to ask your trainer. We love talking horses and never mind answering questions and helping owners feel confident in their horse's program and care.
Products I Love:
Yes, the little bottle of purple stuff! This stuff works at both healing thrush infections and preventing thrush from developing. Apply a little bit in the grooves of the frog and the cleft of the frog - a little goes a long way! Use gloves when applying... this stuff will stain your hands!
Gold Bond Foot Spray
Many of you may be raising an eyebrow right now, but hear me out... Gold Bond (or comparable generic brand) is designed to reduce moisture, bacteria growth, and keeping feet dry. Many farriers love it for this reason. I've found it really does help soles and frogs stay dry and hard.
Yes, there are similar "horse" foot sprays. A quick Google search shows you can buy a similar product from Cavalor for about $30... or you can pick up Gold Bond at your local Walgreens for less than $10. For as much of this spray as I know we'll be going through this winter, I'll take the Gold Bond!
If your horse's feet are really wet and sensitive, coating the hoof with a sugar and iodine mix is a good way to harden and dry out the sole. Be care with this one to avoid drying out the hoof too much.
Products I Avoid:
I avoid hoof dressings, gels, moisturizers, or any product that "conditions" the hoof. There are many of them out there promising the world, and through trial and error, I've found most of them are expensive and just don't work. They create or exacerbate more problems than they solve.
In crazy wet weather like we're experiencing in Southern California right now, less is more. There is only so much a horse owner can do to manage mud, etc. in an emergency situation like this.
As an owner, give yourself some grace. Get out to the barn and do the best you can to keep your horse and his living space dry. But if all you're able to do is pick out his feet and spray them with a product designed to protect them and reduce moisture, you're doing great!
They really don't need much more. Do this every single day and your four-legged kiddo will be just fine and come out of this storm in good shape!
Are you in an area affected by severe winter weather? What do you do differently with your horse during yucky weather to help manage his feet?
Tell me in the comments!