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Hoofcare Tips

Easy Hoof Bath to Make in Minutes

With the current drought a hoof bath for daily soaking will not only keep your horse's hooves healthy and supple, but easier to trim too. Here is an inexpensive version that takes minutes to put together once you have the following materials on hand;
4 poles or 'sleepers' - 2 long ones approx. 2m and 2 short ones of approx. 1.5m
2 pieces of old carpet 2.5m x 2m
1 piece of plastic pool liner or heavy duty tarp 2.5 x 2m

If you set the hoof bath up in front of your water trough the horses will need to put at least their front hooves in when they drink.
First put the poles in place as shown in the photo above, followed by a piece of carpet, then the pool liner topped with another piece of carpet.
Allow the horses a day or so of walking on it dry to get used to stepping into this strange area - you may even need to lead them through it first.
Then wet it down so there is no pooled water so they get used to the wet feeling before adding more water to make a shallow pool. You may need to lead the horse's through at each stage to ensure they can cope with stepping in to get their drink.
Alternatively, if your horse drinks from a stream or dam and their hooves are still very dry, you can set up the hoof bath for a longer soak just before trimming. By feeding them in the hoof bath, they will be happy to stand once they get used to walking through.


Seedy toe seems to be one of the most common afflictions to a horse’s hooves can best be described as a fungal infection which enters through the white line where it has been weakened either by long hoof growth of horse shoe nails.

It gets its name from most commonly being found in the toe area although it can affect any other part of the hoof wall.

Where the integrity of the white line has been weakened (stretched or punctured) the fungi and bacteria enter from the soil much like hoof rot in sheep, and eat their way up the inside of the hoof wall, thriving on the dark, damp conditions. What can first look like a small area of rot once dug into with a hoof knife can reveal a large amount of damage, which in severe cases can cause chronic lameness.

As the primary infection is usually fungal, it means that it does need consistent treatment to return the hoof to good health.

First, if you trim your own horse’s hooves, you need to remove as much of the damaged (crumbly) hoof wall as possible to open the infected area to the light and air and to stop dirt being packed into it. If you aren’t confident about doing this, ask a hoof care specialist to show you how far to trim and be careful to only remove hoof wall, not sole or the sensitive lamina inside the white line.

Next, itís a matter of using an anti-microbial agent to soak the hoof in once or twice a week. Milton nappy wash or the generic equivalent (Black & Gold or Home Brand) which have the same chemical component and concentration as Milton, are ideal at a ratio of 1:10 (9 parts water).  I mix up a 2 litre bottle using 200ml of Milton and the rest luke-warm water.

Many bleaches use the same chemical (sodium hyperchlorate) but at different concentrations.It is probably easier to use the “Milton” than to work out the right does rates for the bleaches.

Using a hoof soaking boot or if you’re on a budget, a section of inner tube folded in half once the hoof is inside and tied around the pastern is just as effective. After cleaning the infected area thoroughly with a wire brush and even a sharp knife or nail to get all the dirt out, put the hoof boot on and pour in enough solution to fill it to mid pastern level.

After 10 minutes, empty the boot and add fresh solution. Do this again twice more after 10 minutes so there is a total soaking time of 30 minutes.While the hoof is nice and clean, spray the infected area with a solution of 1:10 Vetadine (9 parts water)  that you have mixed in a spray bottle (Vetadine is an economical form of tamed iodine (betadine) that you can buy as an animal wash from your vet or produce store…again it is the easy way to get the dosage right as “iodine” may come in a large range of concentrations and straight iodine mixed 1:10 is quite destructive).

You can spray the Vetadine in twice daily if it’s a serious infection, otherwise, do it as often as possible between soaking.

This method has been used with great success by Peter Laidely who recently held a hoof trimming workshop after Agfest. He says people who use other products such as Formalin or Copper sulphate, risk poisoning their horse as the area where the bacteria reaches is alive and can absorb these chemicals into the blood stream.

Of course once you have the seedy toe under control, the hoof wall will grow out and if you keep the hoof correctly and frequently trimmed, it will not occur.

The type of ground your horse is on also seems to be a pre-disposing factor as some dirt (such as soft moist areas) seems to harbor more fungi and bacteria than other types.

For more information on keeping your horse barefoot, or learning how to trim, Peter has a wonderful book on CD which is available from me at a cost of $39 including GST and postage. Click here to read a review.

Treated seedy toe

Photo: A hoof treated for seedy toe by removing the damaged hoof wall.

When being 'kind' is cruel

While reading the book 'Perfect Partners' by Kelly Marks (an excellent book by the way) I was struck by a very true statement she made.... "Well meaning is not the same as wellbeing for the horse".
One of the ways we show good care for our horse is to provide plenty of feed. Unfortunately this over-caring can be cruel to a horse or pony especially in spring and early summer when grasses are high in sugar.
Our equines (that includes donkeys and mules) often have to endure the pain of a hoof abscess caused by too much rich grass, and can be affected even if they don't appear to be overweight.

The photos show the various stages of an abscess which in the beginning can cause three legged lameness before it bursts through soft tissue. The pain the horse endures at this stage is similar to when you hit your thumb with a hammer and the swelling and blood is trapped under your thumbnail.
Eventually the pus and serum are forced from the internal hoof structures and come out through the coronet band or heel bulb areas.
Sometimes a milder abscess is not even evident in a horse not exercised regularly, only showing up when the hoof trimmer discovers a rotting hole in the sole or hoof wall.
If you suspect an abscess it's a good idea to poultice the affected hoof, changing it daily so the coronet and heel bulbs are soft to allow the abscess to find the easy way out. This can take up to a week, but if your horse is lame for longer than this, call the vet in case it is something more serious than an abscess.

Of course if you want to avoid the abscess situation then you need to restrict your horse or pony's intake of grass, especially in the afternoon and overnight when the sugar content is highest.
Rather than 'locking them up' in a small bare dirt yard with nothing to eat (being cruel to be kind) a long narrow area to move in is a better option and some soaked hay (to reduce sugars) must be provided to prevent gut ulcers, colic and development of vices such as wood chewing to alleviate hunger. Don't use cereal hays/straw such as oat, wheat or barley as these can be even higher than grass hay in sugars.

The best option is to set up a 'track' around the edge of the horse's pasture which is grazed out by sheep, cattle or other horses early in the season. You could even plough it up if you have a chronically foundered pony or horse with insulin resistance, to remove all the grass while still providing room to move.
Movement is vital for a horse to burn calories and relieve boredom. Having the company of another horse promotes movement and play, and is much healthier way of keeping any horse. A horse or pony kept on its own and in pain from laminitis will suffer depression and prolonged recovery.

If you can't provide a track or company for movement, then exercise by riding, driving or leading is essential, as is the company of another prey animal such as a cow, sheep or goat.
I heard that in Denmark it is illegal to keep a horse on its own - a law we could well do with here too if we had the ability to police it.

See the article on Paddock Paradise for ideas on setting up a track. Another option is to run your pony in a large area of bush or poor pasture grazed out by sheep. You may still need to provide 'low sugar' hay so to find out more about that visit www.safergrass.org or purchase the Safer Grass CD's from the Natural Horse World Shop.

A hoof abscess is a warning sign that the horse has suffered a laminitic episode, and therefore is prone to more of these unless the feed situation is changed. Caring horse owners love to give their horse a bucket feed or treats but this can cause more problems.
Treats such as carrots, apples, sugar cubes, bread and mints all have sugars that add up to tip the horse's intake over the edge (just like a diabetic).
Instead, give your horse a handful of sunflower seeds or a good scratch/groom where they like to be rubbed - it's much healthier for them.
Grains, pellets and even oaten chaff are high in sugars too, so feed an alternative if you have to such as Speedi-beet, and soak the oaten chaff or use a very small amount of lucerne chaff.

Check the Laminitis page so you know the early signs, get them off the grass and work with your hoof trimmer to alleviate the symptoms.
Education and action is the key to being kind to your horse - if you really love your horse you will make an effort to find out new information that can help keep them from suffering the affects of over or under feeding.

By reading this newsletter and researching the links, you have taken the first step so well done. Now keep going and put your knowledge into action.

Make Your Own Safe Hoof Stand

This safe and easy to make hoof stand was put together from items you can find at most recycling shops or even from around your own place. To start with you need a removeable agitator from the centre of an older style washing machine - the larger ones are better as they have a larger, more stable base.
Next, find some PVC pipe that fits into the top of the agitator - mine had a joiner on it so I was able to get it to lock into the top snugly. I made two pieces about 100mm long that can be swapped for whatever hoof job I was doing.
On one piece I fitted a dog toy ball that made a comfortable surface and provided a grip to sit the hoof on. With the second piece of pipe I drilled 2 holes in the top and with a cable tie, I attatched a curved piece of radiator hose to make the hoof cradle which also had two holes drilled through and 2 slots cut where it met with the pipe. This keeps it from rolling over when pressure is applied.
To ensure the easy removal of each piece of pipe from the agitator, apply a little oil to the edge of the pvc pipe and voila! you have a very safe (for you and the horse) and light hoof stand.




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Disclaimer: The information contained within this website is soley the expressed views and opinions of the author, unless otherwise stated, and the author accepts no responsability for the way this information is used by viewers. The information is provided to help PREVENT problems, not to replace veterinary advice.


Cynthia Cooper -
Natural Horse World

46 Wattle Lea Lane, Golden Valley. Tasmania, 7304. Australia.

Ph. 0419 372279

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