Raise your hand if you love to be around horses! I know that my hand just shot straight into the air. At Natural Equestrians we are all about supporting horses and their riders. Today we are going to be learning how to hoof pick.
While we have written an excellent grooming article, How to Groom Your Horse Properly, we are going to go into much more detail and include everything we know that is “hoof” related.
In fact, you could say that we are going to get to the hoof of it all.
Take Your “Pick”- Finding the Right Hoof Pick
You pull your horse in from the pasture, and are terrified to lift up their hoof. You can see the mud encased around the outside and can only imagine what is caked on under there. What tool should you use? You are in luck! We will be discussing many of the different style hoof picks! You will truly be able to “take your pick”.
The brush hoof pick is one of the most commonly used hoof picks. This type of hoof pick is a good choice, because it includes a brush on the end. While the metal pick is more common, the brush can be used to help wipe off any stubborn mud or dirt. This trusty hoof pick is an excellent choice for any grooming kit.
Next, we will discuss some varieties that do not include the brush. One type that is very helpful is the pointed hoof pick. This hoof pick often has a wood or vinyl handle. It has a steeper point on the end is made from a more durable metal. This type of pick is superb choice for those stubborn cases. Living in a cold climate where hooves can get stuck with ice and snow, the pointed hoof pick will be your friend.
At Natural Equestrians, our recommendation is to include at least two hoof picks in your grooming kit. It is important have a brushed variety, as well as one with a steeper point. When it comes to riding horses, the hoof pick is your friend.
Securing Your Horse
You went to Tractor Supply, and you are now armed with multiple hoof picks. It is time to bring your horse in from the pasture. Many barns will have cross ties, which is an excellent way to secure your horse while picking out their hoof.
In the event that cross ties are not an option, you can always tie your horse up in a safe location. Please be sure to use an easy release knot. This is very important when working with horses as you never know what situations you might encounter. Your horse is always on alert and he just might find a monster plastic bag lurking in the distance. Joking aside, either location will be just fine to begin picking out your horse’s hooves.
Chasing Chestnuts- Lifting the Hoof
The big moment has arrived. Once your horse is secured, you are ready to begin lifting your horse’s leg. Most horses will do this easily. If that is not the case for you, we have tips for even the most stubborn of situations.
It is now time to lift your horse’s leg and hold onto their hoof. I like to give my horse time to adjust and do this in a gentle manner. I will slowly run my hand down the back of their forearm to their cannon bone. Many horse’s will become so used to this, that they will automatically begin to lift up their hoof.
If you are just beginning this process you will most likely need to add a little pressure to the back of the horse’s leg. Once you have reached the middle back portion of the cannon bone gently put pressure on increasing the firmness until your horse picks up their hoof. If this doesn’t work, you can lean into your horse… most horses will lift up at this point.
In the case your horse is not lifting its leg, you may need to squeeze the chestnut. The chestnut looks like a little button above their knee on the inner portion of their legs. By gently squeezing the chestnut, your horse will pick up their leg.
Horses are trained through pressure and release. It is important to hold pressure until your horse has made an effort to lift their leg. This teaches them there is release in responding to the pressure. Releasing the pressure too soon will teach your horse that it doesn’t need to respond to your efforts. This will make it more difficult the next time.
Cleaning the Hoof
You have won the battle! You have the hoof in your hand! You are in luck, because cleaning the hoof is actually quite simple. We will take you through the process step by step.
- Start at the front of your horse and work from front to back on one side, and then front to back from other. This allows your horse to get used to the routine, and before you know it. They will be picking up their hooves for you!
- It is important hold your horse’s hoof in the hand closest to their body. You will when then use your other hand to pick out their hoof. This allows you to pick safely, without stretching you body underneath.
- The first important thing to know if the sensitive areas. The sensitive part of the hoof is called the frog. It looks like an upside down triangle in the center of the hoof. When picking out your horse’s hooves, remember to pick around the frog. Most of the horse’s hoof is made of a very tough toenail like material. You do not need to be worried about hurting the hoof as long as you avoid the frog.
- Hoof in hand begin to pick out the area next to the frog. This often looks like deep grooves. Make sure to remove all the dirt and debris. Then you can move outward cleaning off the remaining mud and dirt. You can also, check around the outside of the hoof and scrape out remaining dirt.
- At this time, you can use your brush to scrap away any remaining bits of mud. Always do a thorough check for dirt and stones. Anything that might harm your horse and make it difficult for your horse to move. This is especially important before a ride.
Continue this process on each of your horse’s hooves..your horse will certainly thank you!
Happy Hooves Make For Happy Horses
Your horse’s hooves are now clean! You have learned how to hoof pick! When you first learning anything it can take some adjustment, but before you know it, you will be hoof picking like a pro.
We are so glad to help you along your equestrian journey!
We would love to hear from you in the comment section down below! Show us a picture of you and your horse!
Happy hooves make for happy horses!