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University of Minnesota Extension

Caring for your horse's hooves

Quick facts

Establish a good working relationship with your farrier and veterinarian to ensure your horse stays healthy and sound. Many foot problems can occur in horses. To reduce hoof problems:

  • Schedule regular trimming or shoeing.
  • Maintain good hoof balance.
  • Provide appropriate shoeing for different weather and footing conditions.
  • Provide appropriate treatment when disease occurs.
  • Maintain proper horse nutrition.

How often should you trim or shoe your horse’s hooves?


Trim or shoe hooves at least every 6 to 8 weeks in the summer. Show horses may need more frequent trimming.


Because the horse’s hooves grow slower in the winter, you should trim or shoe hooves every 6 to 12 weeks. This time interval may be different between horses based on their hoof growth.

Learn how to care for horse hooves in the winter.

Keeping the hooves balanced

A balanced horse hoof

Horses with balance hooves move better and have less stress and strain on bones, tendons and ligaments. The ideal foot has:

  • A straight hoof-pastern angle.
    • A straight line from the pastern down through the front of the hoof wall.
    • This correctly lines up the bones between the pastern and coffin bone.
  • Easy break over.
    • The toe is not too long and is squared, rounded or rolled.
    • This allows easier movement with each step.
    • Too much break over can result in health problems.
  • Adequate heel support.
    • The shoe extends back to the end of the hoof wall and supports the back of the entire leg.
    • The back edge of the shoe is under a line drawn down the center of the cannon bone.
  • Medial-lateral balance.
    • The foot lands evenly from side to side as the horse walks.

Selecting a farrier

Routine hoof care is essential to your horse’s health. Regular trimming and, in some cases, shoeing can help keep your horse sound and performing. Having a farrier that works well with your horse and is willing to meet their individual needs is important.

Often, the best way to find a farrier is by word of mouth. Your veterinarian, industry professionals and other horse owners are good resources.

The Minnesota Horseman’s Directory lists local farriers.


Common hoof problems

Nutrition can help some hoof problems

  • Feed good quality hay.
  • Correctly supplement vitamins and trace minerals.
  • Provide constant access to fresh, clean water.
  • Correct poor nutrition can lead to gradually improve hoof health.
  • Cooperate with veterinarians and horse nutritionists to set up a good nutrition plan.

Research shows poor quality hooves can benefit from commercially available hoof care products that contain:

  • Biotin (20 milligrams per day)
  • Iodine (1 milligram per day)
  • Methionine (2500 milligrams per day)
  • Zinc (175 to 250 milligrams per day)

Authors: Mary Boyce, DVM, University of Minnesota; Krishona Martinson, Extension equine specialist and Kim Otterson, County Line Farm

Reviewed in 2021

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