How to clean your horse’s hooves

Cleaning your horse’s hooves is an important part of keeping your horse healthy. Checking and cleaning the state of your horse’s feet daily (or before and after you ride) is a great way to keep problems from developing and get your horse accustomed to picking up his or her feet for the farrier.

Proper cleaning will:

  • Prevent rocks or other foreign objects stuck in your horse’s hoof from bruising the sole
  • Allow you to check for thrush and/or White Line disease
  • Give you the chance to check the state of his shoes if he’s shod and the condition of his feet if he’s barefoot

To clean your horse’s feet:

  • Secure your horse by tying or cross tying.
  • Stand facing the rear of your horse and start with one of the front feet. Most people start with the near, or left shoulder.
  • Stand in line with your horse’s leg so that, should he make a quick movement, his hoof won’t hit you.
  • Starting on the shoulder, run your hand down the back of your horse’s leg until you reach his cannon bone.
  • Gently squeeze the cannon bone to signal your horse to pick up the foot.
  • Once your horse has lifted his foot, cup it securely in one hand and using using a hoof pick, scrape the mud and dirt from the cleft of the V surrounding the frog. Always run the pick from the heel to the toe (away from you) to avoid poking the horse’s sole or frog. If your horse has shoes, make sure to remove all the dirt or mud that may be caught around the rim of the shoe.
  • Next, use a brush (some hoof picks have them) to clean the surface of the sole.
  • If you are using a hoof oil or treatment, now is the time to apply it.
  • Set the hoof gently on the ground.