Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Managing Wet Feet

Hoof care is one of the most important aspects of quality horse management. Hoof trimming, good nutrition, and

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Hoof care is one of the most important aspects of quality horse management. Hoof trimming, shoeing if necessary, good nutrition to ensure good hoof growth, and inspection for disease or injury to the foot are just a few of the tasks a horse owner needs to worry about. Yet no matter how much attention is paid to these steps, if your horse’s feet are constantly wet, this can create a disastrous situation for proper hoof health.

A Product of His Environment

Water is nature’s hoof moisturizer, but moderation is key. Too much moisture can lead to deformed hooves because as the hoof becomes softer, it loses its structural integrity. Prolonged and excessive environmental moisture leads to dangerously high hoof moisture levels.

To better understand hooves getting saturated, Stephen O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, owner of the Northern Virginia Equine practice in Marshall, Va., gives the analogy of water’s effects on a board: "If you pour water over a board, the water will run off the board. But if you tie a rock to the board and submerge it in a water trough, the board will become saturated, become soft, and eventually fall

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Written by:

Marcella Reca Zipp, M.S., is a former staff writer for The Horse. She is completing her doctorate in Environmental Education and researching adolescent relationships with horses and nature. She lives with her family, senior horse, and flock of chickens on an island in the Chain O’Lakes.

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