How to Clean Horse Hooves

cleaning hoof with hoof pick

Horse hoof cleaning should be done on a regular basis. If your horse is still ridden, check its hooves before and after the ride. You’ll need a hoof pick to do so. Checking your horse’s feet frequently prevents hoof health issues. It helps to spot the problem at the earliest stage if it occurs.

This article includes a step-by-step guide on how to clean your horse hooves and what you need to know.

What is a Hoof Pick?

A hoof pick is an essential tool for the frequent cleaning process. Some of the best grooming kits come with hoof picks included. The process of cleaning your horse’s hooves is called “picking out” the horse’s foot.

The hoof pick helps to get rid of all the dirt on the hooves. Most hoof picks come with a stiff brush attached. It helps to remove the remaining dirt and debris after picking.

woman cleaning hooves outside

The Guide to Horse's Hooves Cleaning

  1. Put a halter on your equine and tie it up. Make a quick-release knot.
  2. Get to the left side of the horse, beside the horse’s shoulder. Stand near the horse facing the horse’s tail.
  3. Get down to the horse’s leg and reach the fetlock on the horse’s front foot ankle. This will make your equine friend pick up his foot.
  4. If your horse doesn’t pick up the foot, get your forefinger and a thumb on either side of the cannon area. Gently squeeze your fingers to make your horse pick up its hoof. Your equine should be trained to raise its foot willingly.
  5. Hold the front foot in your left hand. Grab a hoof pick with your other hand and start cleaning a horse’s hooves.
  6. Remove dirt and small stones from the heel to the toe. Start with the collateral groove. Clean the flog cleft between the frog and the sole of the hoof.
  7. Pay attention to the white line. It’s the space where the hoof wall meets the hoof sole. Excessive dirt stuck there may cause common hoof problems like seedy toe or white line disease.
  8. When there’s no soil left, check the clean environment. Take a look at the frog if it’s firm.
  9. Check if there are no thrush or loose shoes. Regular cleaning helps to check for missing nails. Make sure the clenches (the top of the nail) don’t come out.
  10. Apply hoof treatment that your farrier recommends. In case you use thrush remedy, apply it on the clean and dry hoof.
  11. When you finish, gently set the front feet down. Then proceed to the hind foot. Next, get the other side of the horse. Start from the hind foot now and finish with the front hoof.
cleaning hooves with brush

Useful Tips to Consider

  • If you’re left-handed, hold the hoof with your right hand and clean the hoof with your left hand. You may find it more comfortable.
  • Stand close to your equine when cleaning your horse’s hooves. For horse owners with long hair, get it to the side or make a ponytail. Your hair shouldn’t bother you when you reaching the horse’s hooves.
  • If you’re a rookie horse owner, you may need a professional helping hand. Contact your farrier to get recommendations on how to keep your horse’s hooves healthy. Perhaps your equine needs special horse care and treatment.

Keeping Horse Hooves Healthy

Apart from regular cleaning, there are other methods to maintain hoof health. Follow these steps to keep your horses’ hooves strong and healthy.

  • Avoid frequent turning out your horses on wet and muddy pastures. There’s a high risk of developing thrush and other hoof problems.
  • Keep bed shaving dry and clean. Wet bedding can easily stick to the horse’s hoof. This creates a damp environment that is bacteria-friendly. Plus, thorough cleaning is needed to remove bedding from the horse’s hooves.
  • Provide your horse with regular exercises. This increases blood circulation in the horse’s hooves. It gets a great impact on the overall hoof health.
  • Set proper nutrition for your horse. Healthy hooves are not only about cleaning. Nutrition plays an important part in a horse’s healthy life. It promotes hoof growth and strength.
girl cleaning horse hooves

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should a Horse's Hooves be Cleaned?

Daily cleaning of the horse’s hooves is a key to proper hoof health. If your horse is ridden under a saddle, clean its hooves before and after riding. Cleaning before leaving the stables ensures no bedding is stuck in the hooves. While cleaning after turning out removes all the mud collected outside. If your horses spend most of their time outside, check the horses’ hooves at least once a day.

Why Should You Clean Your Horse Hooves Frequently?

Healthy hooves prolong the equine’s longevity. Both you and your companion live comfy. Regular hoof inspections help to prevent thrush and other severe fungal infections.

In case of poor cleaning, soil and manure stick to the hooves. As a result, a dirty environment occurs. That’s an ideal spot for bacterial infections to start. You can easily recognize thrush by smell. It’s usually accompanied by a black discharge on the hoof sole and a soft frog. Contact your farrier or vet in case you spotted the signs.

What Do You Clean a Horse's Hoof With?

A horse pick is an essential part of hoof cleaning. If it doesn’t come with a stiff brush, buy it separately. The brush will help you to remove the bits of dirt and debris.

horse hoof frog close view

Does Cleaning a Horse's Hoof Hurt?

The process of cleaning a horse’s hooves is completely painless. You can’t hurt the horse with a hoof pick. The part of the foot that you clean has no nerve endings.

What Hoof Treatment Products to Consider?

After you clean and dry the horse, you can apply a treatment. There are hoof care sprays that create a ‘barrier’ to protect feet from bacteria. You can use thrush remedy if needed. A hoof conditioner is another product for the horse’s hoof drying and cracking. Contact your farrier to get proper treatment for the horse’s foot.

horse hooves running close view

Horse Hoof Care Revealed

Horse hoof cleaning must be done daily. Many horse owners prefer to do it on their own. You can ask a farrier to teach you how to do it properly. Use this guide to get the hang of cleaning the horse’s hooves. Before you start, make sure you have a hoof pick with a stiff brush. You may need to apply hoof care products to treat the hooves.

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David Garcia

David Garcia

David Garcia is a vivid writer and a big fan of equestrian sports. He founded Horsezz – the blog where David shares his knowledge and experience about horses, tack, equestrian riding equipment, taking care of horses, and other useful guidelines.