Regular cleaning and hoof picking is vital to the overall health of your horse?s feet.? They should be picked out before and after every ride to prevent stone bruises and discomfort, and always carry a hoof pick with you on your rides in case your horse picks up an uncomfortable stone.? For safe and easy hoof picking, try the following routine:
- Make sure your horse is standing quietly, and tie him up if he has a tendency to wander off.
- Stand on the left side first, facing the horse?s tail, and run your hands gently but firmly down his neck, shoulder and legs.
- Be sure that you are in a position to have good balance and free movement.? If your horse kicks or suddenly drops his foot, you will need to be able to get out of the way.
- Give him your command for lifting his foot.? This can be anything as long as you use it constantly.
- If your horse does not pick up his foot on the first command, squeeze the fetlock and give the command again.? Most horses will respond to this but if he is being difficult, you might ask him to shift his weight over and pick up the foot as he moves his weight to the other foot.? If your horse normally lifts his foot without difficulty but is now having a hard time with it, you will want to check for lameness.
- Support the hoof with one hand and use the pick in the other to gently clean the hoof of dirt and debris.? If your horse tries to drop his foot, flex the toe backward towards his elbow.? Stop the pressure as soon as he stops trying to drop his foot.
- Always use the hoof pick in a downward motion to avoid damaging the frog or heel.
- When you are done, gently return his foot to the ground.