Generally, it’s recommended to have your horse’s hooves trimmed every 4-6 weeks. However, this interval can be lengthened or shortened. Before you can determine the right frequency for your horse, in consultation with your farrier or barefoot trimmer, you should assess their diet, exercise regime and hoof quality.
Providing your horse with the energy intake they need is fundamental in supporting healthy hooves. While some hoof conditions are the result of genetic predisposition, correct nutrition can improve the overall health of your horse’s hooves.
There are a number of ingredients vital to hoof health, including protein, zinc and calcium, to name a few. A well balanced diet, along with quality forage in the form of hay or pasture, will ensure your horse isn’t deficient in any essential vitamins or minerals.
In a domesticated setting, there is less opportunity for the hoof to wear naturally, particularly if your horse is housed on soft pasture or bedding. In nature, horses have adapted to roam each day, covering all manner of terrain, which hardens and trims their hooves.
There are a few simple changes you can make to do the same for your horse’s hooves. Regular exercise and freedom of movement promote blood circulation and hoof growth. In addition, placing pebbles or gravel in common areas, such as near water troughs, assist in shaping hooves.
If your horse has poor hoof condition, regular trimming is essential. An unhealthy hoof may split or crack in dry conditions and splay out in wet conditions if left untrimmed for too long. Brittle hooves can also lead to poor performance, so routine trimming will shape and strengthen them.
Regardless of whether you choose to keep your horse shod or barefoot, regular trimming is part of the picture of well balanced, sound and healthy hooves. Ultimately, the frequency of hoof trimming will depend on the rate of hoof growth. Faster growing hooves will need trimming more often.