Hoof care is a vital part of maintaining your horses overall health. You should check your horses hooves daily, and at the very least, two to three times per week. You should becomve very familiar with what is normal and what is not, and to notice any problems that may be starting. Using this simple checklist may assist you in your daily grooming routine.
1. As you approach your horse make sure the symmetry is close, they do not have to be exactly equal, but very close to the same size and shape.
2. Carefully examine for defects in the wall and coronary band. Pick up the hoof, run your hand over the outside of the wall to feel for defects. Use the exact procedure for the coronary band and then squeeze it gently, these two procedures will also show tender spots and moisture bearing areas.
3. Carefully inspect the sole. Check the coloring in each hoof. They should be the same in color. A clearly delineated dark spot indicates a bruise or puncture wound.
4. Look and compare the frogs. The two front hooves should be similar in size and shape and the same with the rear hooves. You should lightly press each frog with your hoof pick, in most areas, with the exception of desert areas, they should be slightly spongy.
5. If your horse is shod, grasp the shoe and see if it wiggles. Check for missing clinches, if the shoe is loose you may choose to remove the shoe before your horse loses it on her own and possibly taking a chunk of her hoof with it.
If you keep a good close eye on your horses hooves, you can avoid a lot of issues by catching the problem before it gets severe. I would recommend you work into your daily hoof cleaning a few simple steps. Use your hoof pick from heel to toe. If it is tightly packed you may need to loosen it up a bit before it is removed. Once all the debris is removed, check all the areas of the hoof and make sure there is not a bad odor as this is a clear cut sign of thrush. Make sure there are no pebbles or stones lodged anywhere, even under the shoe.
Your horses hooves should exhibit a natural glossy luster of the hoof wall. A smooth uniform surface free of cracks, rings, dishes and flares; a concave sole that touches the shoe then you can be pretty sure that your horses hooves are in good health.