Summer can bring on a whole new set of issues concerning horses’ hooves. Moist environments can predispose your them to numerous ailments and problems, including bruises. What can you do to help prevent bruises or promote healing of them this summer?
Hoof bruises can be the result of a number of things, including improperly fitting shoes, too short of a trim, rocks, hard landings, and even sudden changes in terrain. Moisture in the hoof makes it more susceptible to developing bruises under summer conditions. These hoof bruises can manifest in a variety of colors: red, purple, or even hot pink. They may be seen on the sole, hoof wall, or even along the bottom edge of the hoof.
James Luttrell, veteran Mid-South farrier since the 1970’s, states bruises are more likely seen in the horn of the foot in horses with white feet and less so in those with dark feet. “Horses that are ridden a lot on hard surfaces” are at risk for bruising as well, Mr. Luttrell states. Shoeing horses who are prone to bruising may help keep them comfortable this summer, he advises.
A stone bruise may be visible on the sole, especially after your farrier removes the surface with his knife. Bruises that cause the pooling of blood at the site can create ideal conditions for microorganisms and bacteria to thrive, which can lead to a subsequent abscess. Therefore, it is necessary to provide your horse with proper hoof maintenance and care this summer.
Check with your veterinarian or farrier first, if warranted, but if you see your horse limping and suspect a bruise, pick up the hoof (only if you can safely do so) and apply careful pressure with your thumbs at certain points around the sole. If you are able to locate an area of interest by your horse’s reaction to the pressure, you have found the bruised area most likely.
Now that you’ve located the bruise, you can begin to treat it. Again, always check with your vet or farrier first, but there are home remedies you can try in an attempt to alleviate pain associated with bruised hooves and help prevent abscesses. A hoof poultice is a good place to start. Epsom salt is an economical, DIY option when it comes to treating your horse’s bruised hooves.
A quick internet search reveals several homemade Epsom salt poultice recipes using ingredients most horse owners and caregivers have on hand, such as sugar, iodine or betadine, and Apple Cider Vinegar. After applying liberally, a poultice should be covered with a wrap or dressing. You can also soak bruised hooves in a shallow, rubber bucket using Epsom salt. Commercial products are also available for dressing or soaking bruised hooves, should you choose not to make your own.
National Farrier’s Week is July 9-15 this year. This special week is set aside to acknowledge the contribution of farriers to the equine industry. Take time to tell your farrier how much you appreciate him or her and the importance they make in the lives of your equines. By going to AmericanFarriers.com, you can even nominate a farrier who has made an impact in your life- perhaps someone who passed on invaluable lessons or helped you get your bearings in the equine industry or even as a rider. As clients and equine business owners, let’s take time to celebrate our farriers this week.