BY JESS CLAWSON
It’s no secret that I love thoroughbreds for a great many reasons: their tendency to be decent jumpers, their sensitive natures, and their proficiency in eventing. But if you asked all thoroughbred enthusiasts what they’d change about the breed if they could, I bet a lot of them would say the feet.
Having owned at least a half dozen thoroughbreds and ridden countless more, I’ve come up with a list of products I love that make their hooves the best they can be–in addition to working closely with my farrier, of course!
The Hoof Pick
We have to start here. It’s the most important tool in your grooming box, the one thing I use on my horses every single day even if I don’t ride them. I grew up using those rubber coated metal ones that you can get for under 75 cents anywhere, but now I’ve learned the value of innovation. My favorite hoof pick at the moment is called The PickBrush.
It’s designed so that the user can pick out the hoof and brush out the loose dirt with a single action of the hand. And as someone who types all day long, I appreciate the ergonomic handle–my wrist tendonitis doesn’t flare up if I use it on 15 horses in a row. The pick blade itself never bends (a problem I’ve found in other “fancy” hoof picks) and it’s easy to hang in the wash stall. What’s not to love?
In Virginia, we’re dealing with swamp-like conditions and Mo is turned out basically all the time. Although I love all that turnout, I worry about his hooves. That’s where EffolHoof Ointment–Green comes into play.
Made with laurel and thyme oils in a petroleum base, it protects the hoof against moisture while combating infections like thrush. You can apply it from the coronet band down, and even on the underside of the hoof if the horse is going to be out in wet conditions. It can even be applied with your hands if you don’t have the Effol brush,. Everything Effol makes is human grade, so you can use it on your own finger nails if you want to!
I also like how long the tub lasts, and that the ointment doesn’t run onto the floor so nothing gets wasted. Just brush the hoof free of dirt with your PickBrush and go to town with the hoof ointment. It’s easy and doesn’t smell terrible like a lot of hoof dressings do.
Despite our best efforts, horses do get thrush sometimes so we need to have a plan in place to treat it. I like the Effol Frog-Vital a lot. It’s easy to apply. It comes in a syringe like bute paste, which means it isn’t going to get all over me. In just a couple of applications, the frogs are healthy again and I’m not covered in product.
I don’t feed a lot of supplements to my horse, but I’ve seen so many good results from the Springtime Supplements Hoof & Coat Formula on so many horses that I have to recommend it. All hoof supplements contain biotin, but the Springtime formula also has naturally occurring electrolytes, trace minerals, and B vitamins. The horse’s hooves will grow in stronger and the coat shinier, but the supplement also promotes healthy nerve function and a good fluid balance.
Mo is an event horse and sometimes after a tough cross country trip or long schooling, I ice his hooves in addition to his legs. For this, I love using Ice Horse hoof ice boots. They go on easily, stay cold forever, and you can re-use the cold packs.
Another issue that’s coming up for a lot of horses right now is laminitis. The grass has a high sugar content in a lot of places much later into the spring than usual. We need to monitor our horses on grass, including putting them in grazing muzzles or dry lots if we have to. Laminitis is no joke, but the Ice Horse laminitis kit is a tool every barn should have ready. I used to work at a lay up farm and that’s what we used for the horses there with laminitic issues. If you have a horse at risk for laminitis, it’s great to have on hand because the faster you can get those hooves cooled, the better.
With a healthy diet and a careful maintenance regimen, horses have a much higher chance of staying sound. Here’s to Healthy Hooves 2019.
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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