Why is hoof care important?
Throughout the breeding and foaling season, a question often considered by horse owners relates to the hoof care for pregnant mares about to foal or those that have foaled. There are several things to consider regarding when and why a pregnant mare should be trimmed.
As broodmares reach the last few months of pregnancy, their weight increases, putting an extra-heavy load on their hooves. This stage of gestation also often coincides with late winter when the footing in pastures is likely to be either deep and muddy or hard and rough as the mud dries out.
Mares that are barefoot need to be regularly trimmed to keep their hooves balanced and avoid spreading and splitting. Allowing hooves to become long and overgrown changes the angles of tendons and bones, increasing strain.
Other reasons why it is important to have mares trimmed before foaling include:
- During foaling she might accidently injure herself or the foal if she has excessively long and ragged hooves.
- She will be sore in the perineal region after foaling and may become difficult for the farrier when her rear legs are lifted.
- She may become anxious about the foal and instinctively attack or be difficult to handle around your farrier.
Will my mare still need to be shod?
Some mares become broodmares because they were performance horses that became injured or have retired. Often these mares may have pre-existing conditions before being bred like osteoarthritis, navicular syndrome, tendonitis, or suspensory ligament injuries. Some of these mares with pre-existing lameness issues may need to be kept in shoes throughout their pregnancy.
Some barefoot broodmares may also be more comfortable with shoes on as their weight increases in the last two or three months of pregnancy. With these mares, a wide web shoe or heart bar shoe will help increase support for the hoof.
When should my mare be trimmed or shod?
Ideally throughout the pregnancy you should trim or shoe your mare every 6 to 12 weeks. This time interval may be different between horses based on their hoof growth. It is also important to remember that whether a mare is barefoot or shod, they should, if possible, not be scheduled for trims or shoeing very close to their foaling dates. If possible, attempt to set up farrier dates so that the last trim or shoeing comes several weeks before the foal is due, this helps to avoid the stress of the mare standing on three legs when she is at her heaviest.
Broodmare safe Hoof Supplements
Ranvet’s Hoof Food is a premium hoof growth promoter and strengthener which helps improve strength and resilience, allowing cracks and defects of the hoof to repair and grow out and regenerating normal hoof wall growth. Hoof Food is safe to feed to broodmares and contains a combination of biotin, zinc, methionine, Sulphur, choline, magnesium and gelatine for optimal hoof growth. Hoof Food can treat a variety of hoof associated defects cracked wall, contracted heels, thin soles, bruised soles, seedy toe, split frogs and dry shelly feet.
Written by Michael-j Goddard