Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension
extension.umn.edu

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?

Summer

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

Winter

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

Share this page:
Page survey

© 2023 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.