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- What are Hoof Injuries?
- What Causes Hoof Injuries?
- Help for Hoof Injuries
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What are Hoof Injuries?
Despite proper hoof care and all the efforts made by horse owners to protect their horses, hoof injuries do happen. Hoof problems and injuries can be quite serious and may mean that your horse is unable to work or train for some time. Common foot and hoof injuries include cuts, puncture wounds, and sudden blows. If proper care is not taken infection can develop.
What Causes Hoof Injuries?
Common causes of hoof injuries include:
- Cuts: A horse’s hoof is very vascular and so don’t be too alarmed at the amount of bleeding a small cut can cause. The best thing to do for a bleeding wound is cold hosing. Running cold water over the hoof for about ten minutes will slow blood flow while still allowing natural cleansing to occur. It also reduces pain and swelling. If a cut has already scabbed you may need to assess how deep it is. Shallow cuts or abrasions can be left, but deeper or larger cuts that have already scabbed may need to be scrubbed and cleaned. Once again, cold hose the area for 15 min, then gently scrub the area with a sponge, loosening dead tissue. After cold hosing, apply a natural astringent and anti-bacterial remedy to the area to promote healing and reduce the chances of infection. Cuts should be cleaned twice daily and not wrapped as wrapping provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
- Puncture Wounds: This type of wound can be a little more serious and depending on the severity, you may need to call the vet so that he can advise if antibiotic or wrapping of the hoof is necessary. In some cases x-rays may also be necessary to determine if the puncture harmed any of the hoof bones. For mild puncture wounds, soak the foot in warm water and an anti-bacterial agent.
- Blows and bruising: When horses kick hard they can do a fair amount of damage to their hoofs. Severe blows may result in bruising, broken hoof walls and even broken bones. In the case of severe bruising, the damaged tissue is often expelled through the formation of a hoof abscess, which generally requires veterinary treatment.
Help for Hoof Injuries
Hoof injuries are often treated at home and it can be helpful to know that there are a number of ways to help reduce the chance of infection, relieve pain and promote healing for healthy horse hooves.
Tips for treating hoof injuries:
- Err on the side of caution when giving your horse pain killers that take away all pain. In some cases, strong pain medication is necessary but in others it may do more harm than good. Pain is nature’s way of preventing re-injury and if you over medicate a horse with an injured hoof, they won’t feel any pain and may put too much pressure on the hoof, causing further damage. Rather opt for natural alternatives whenever possible.
- When your horse has a hoof injury, it can be useful to turn them out into a smaller pasture. This will encourage walking rather than running. Also make sure the area is not full of manure or very wet as this may lead to infection. A hay or grass covered area would be best.
- Keep your horse’s tetanus vaccination up to date.
- Keep an eye out for infection after the injury. Any infection will increase your horses body temperature so be sure to check it. Normal temperature ranges between 99º to 101º F (or 36.5º to 38.5º C).
- Many injuries are not sudden and occur as a result of poor hoof care, inappropriate diets and products or incorrect trimming. It is essential to practice daily hoof care have your horse seen to by a reputable farrier. Diets too high in sugars or starch can result in damage to the lamina which increases the risk for other hoof injuries.