Extra tips on picking a horse’s hooves
This video shows you how to pick a horse’s hoof that does not have a shoe. You can also see more clearly the anatomy of the hoof, and Danny models nicely what a “thrush” infection looks like.
A few more hopefully helpful tips:
Remember that the frog of the hoof is living tissue, so you don’t want to stab at it with your hoof pick. Look for the clefts (the grooves on either side of the frog). If there’s too much mud or dirt, look for where the clefts come out on either side of the heel bulbs, and work your way up. If you still can’t find them, take your best guess and carefully scrape off the top layers of dirt until you can recognize the shape of the hoof.
Holding the hoof pick the right way will really give you the best leverage to get out that stubborn, packed mud. Check out how I’m holding the pick in this video. Many people start out holding it with the tip pointing toward them instead of away, which makes it hard to lever out those stuck pebbles.
Thrush is the common name for a fungus that can grow in horses’ hooves. It can cause problems because it makes the horse’s hoof crumbly and weak. Like most fungi, it grows best in wet conditions, so you can protect your horse from thrush by making sure his pasture is well-drained. If mud is unavoidable (which often happens!), then make sure to pick your horse’s hooves every day and let hims spend some time out of the mud. If your horse does get thrush, you can treat it with iodine or Thrush Buster.
If your horse doesn’t like to pick up his hooves, first check with your vet that he doesn’t have arthritis or pain that would hinder him lifting his hoof. Then you can try leaning into his shoulder to encourage him to get his weight off the hoof you want to pick up. You can even add in the verbal command, “Up!” or something similar, so your horse starts to learn to pick up his feet just by your voice aid.