It’s around this time of year that I start seeing a lot of posts where people are asking for help because their horse has gone lame because the ground is wet.
I’ve no doubt in 6 months or so, I’ll be seeing people say that their horse is lame because the ground is too dry.
It’s like clockwork. Every winter there’s rash of horse’s lame from the wet ground. Every summer they’re lame because of dry ground.
I know us Brits do like to talk about the weather, but really… Is this likely? Are hooves really such a victim of the weather?
It doesn’t make sense to me. If horses go lame on wet ground, and go lame on dry ground, then when are they ever sound?
Is it at all possible, that the ground isn’t the problem?
Here’s what I’ve noticed… When the diet is right, the hooves aren’t all that affected by the wet. They are slightly different, but not much.
When the diet is right, the hooves don’t seem to have problems with the dry either.
When the diet isn’t right, then the feet can be hard and brittle, or soft. Hard is never my goal for hooves. Hard hooves are brittle. I like hooves to be strong and flexible. It’s maybe a little pedantic, but there’s a big difference between hard hooves and strong ones.
It can be a little confusing, as sometimes the terms are often used like they’re interchangeable, but they’re very different things. So when I say hard hooves are a sign of a diet issue, I mean hard, brittle hooves. Not strong hooves.
The weather may be affecting the health of your horse, and that may be affecting the soundness, but that’s not the same thing as the wet or dry ground being the problem.
Why is it important to make this distinction? Because once you do, it’s a much easier problem to address.
The different seasons affect the grass, hence the nutritional intake of your horse. It also affects the hormones, the amount of movement and exercise they get, and their stress levels. Excessive heat or cold can cause all kinds of stress on the body.
Why aren’t hooves weatherproof? That’d be a pretty weird design flaw wouldn’t it?
If the ground conditions only cause a problem to the hooves if the diet is wrong… are the ground conditions really the problem?
The Healthy Horse: Feeding and Nutrition
We Are What We Eat
It's easy to see why diet is so important. The body is always regenerating, it needs good nutrition to be able to build healthy cells. Nutrition is such a confusing subject though!
There's so much advice, and so many different choices, how are you ever supposed to figure out what's right for your horse?
Life is funny. I live in Southern California (drought, dry, hard hooves) and a month ago it rained about an inch (wreaking havoc). One of my horses started limping and my first thought was the wet ground is the cause, making his hooves soft, squishy and sensitive. Then I came back to earth and started to think about nutrition. Then your email came and I read this blog and had a little laugh at myself and reflected on how our thoughts go out into the universe and circulate and come back to us as relevant and welcome blog posts. Thank you for writing this and I look forward to more.
Just in time then 🙂 It’s so easy to point at the big obvious thing we can see! Mind you, it’s pretty easy to miss the big obvious thing too… as long as we keep on thinking… hopefully we’ll get there 🙂
The only horses I have foot problems with ie smelly frogs, is because they have underlying issues – Cushings or EMS. I can keep on top of it with regular cleaning cider vinegar and purple spray and it often appears to be only in one foot! The ‘healthy’ horses are fine.
Yes, I find that. There’s often something underlying.