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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Kumpulainen

Hoof care in the Hawai'i and why it's important

Horses are high altitude desert dwellers. They are designed to digest high fibre, but low quality herbage and traverse dry terrain.

The central Asian Steppes where they come from are mostly cold and any heat is dry, very dry heat. Tropics are the antithesis of the adopted equine environment. Apart from the nutritional challenges that bombard their hooves with laminitic pressures and the constant wet that robs keratin of its tensile strength, extra challenges facing tropical hooves are the humidity, and the omnipresent and particularly virile and opportunistic pathogens (bacteria and fungi). Paying attention to the seasons and monitoring how your horses hoof health changes seasonally is something I personally pay attention to.

It is especially important in the tropics to make sure your horses hooves are be trimmed regularly enough to ensure the frogs stay well-grounded and robust, and the walls don’t grow far enough past the sole to create any excessive mechanical forces, which lead to laminar separation or wall cracks. Even minor breeches of security will let the tropical bad guys into the hoof’s safe house.

All in all, it takes considered management to get the best out of equine hooves during the tropical wet season. The cornerstone of successful hoofcare in such an adverse environment is regularity. Very simply, don’t let the hooves grow long. Horses evolved over the millennia with their hooves being constantly worn by continual movement over abrasive terrain. It is thought that their hooves did not grow long, but remained short with frogs weightbearing and resilient, and with the laminar line compact and tightly connected. It is also important for your horse to get appropriate minerals and salt, especially if your horse is on a pasture here in Hawai'i. I've noticed a significant chainge in my horse hoof health after switching him from a full hay diet to a full pasture grass diet. He was doing much better hoof health wise with a full hay diet so adding appropriate minerals was essential.

During our Equine and barn care visit's our service includes picking hooves, fly spraying horses, mucking out and feeding. We are always happy to customize your barn care needs as every horse has a different care routine.

By Andrew Bowe-Master Farrier

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