Environment and Diet
Diet and environment must be considered when the goal is a healthy equine with healthy hooves. Here you can see the pea gravel we brought in for the boys (our mules). Mud was a huge problem for us winter 2006/2007. Our barn opens to the north so we don't get much sunshine to dry it up. As a result, the mud stays around much longer. Loon Lake Sand & Gravel 4072A Highway 292, Loon Lake, Wa Phone: (509) 233-2401 are wonderful folks to work with. Judy is always friendly & helpful on the phone and Vern has delivered about 21 yards for us over the last month. We, (my husband Jessie) spread it out in their loafing areas, around the waterers, and the path out to the larger fenced area. As you can see the boys were eager to help. Pea gravel is small smooth edged pea size gravel. There are no sharp sides or points. It is wonderful for helping to develop a solid hoof with good structure. We have about 8 acres fenced for our two mules, but virtually no pasture. They have a rocky hill they love to climb and hang out on along with flatter ground to browse around.
Spring of 2008 we will be installing "tracks" for the mules to encourage more movement and self trimming of the hoof. This concept was brought to light by Jaime Jackson in his book Paddock Paradise - A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding. I encourage everyong interested in environment management purchase this book and figure out a way to implement "tracks" in your fenced area. Whether you have 1 acre or many, you can implement his concepts.
We feed timothy hay year 'round. We have begun a new supplement we're trying called Equine Challenge™ Grass. They also make an Equine Challenge™ Alfalfa and a Joint supplement. Check out the Equine Challenge™ page for more details. Fresh water of course is provided year round. We can't forget that our animals drink a lot of water in the winter months too.
Building adequate sole is more than just leaving it alone. Remember – it’s all skin, even the hoof. If the horse is lacking in nutrition or ill in some way, the organs are preserved while “skin” is left on its own.
Typically horses will stay thin soled until you’ve grown in a totally well connected wall. Ride in boots until then. Even if he’s sound, continue until the sole is thick and wall is grown in.
Beware of laminitis and founder in the spring and fall months. By the time you see the signs of lameness, damage has already been done. Call your equine vet first, then contact me. We can reduce the stress on the hoof wall due to flaring and excess growth, which reduces the amount of pull on the laminae and pain to the animal. For an acute attack, padded boots can also be provided to make your animal more comfortable during their recovery period.
Education for the Prevention and Treatment of Laminitis in Horses by Katy Watts. Her website has lots of valuable information. I encourage you to check it out and find out how to help prevent laminitis and founder.
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