Last Updated on September 29, 2022
If you walk into your local agricultural store for a hoof conditioner for horses, you will be spoilt for choice! But how do you know which is the best one to choose? And do you even need a hoof conditioner for your horse at all? Let’s find out!
What Is Hoof Conditioner For Horses?
Horse hooves are made from an incredibly hard-wearing substance called hoof horn. The hooves of the horse are required to carry all the weight of the horse. When the horse moves, each hoof strikes the ground with some force, and it must be able to absorb this without crumbling.
Many horses suffer from problems with their hooves, and we may consider using a hoof conditioner to solve this. Hoof conditioners are widely available in agricultural and equine stores. They normally consist of a thick substance that is painted onto the wall and sole of the horses’ hoof.
You will come across hoof conditioners for horses in many different forms. In the past, hoof treatments tended to be oil-based and many people used hoof oil to give shine and depth of color to their horses’ hooves.
In more recent years it is more common to find water-based hoof conditioners for horses. These often contain many other substances, either naturally derived or chemical. They claim to be able to help the horse build strong and healthy hoof horns and repair previous damage.
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Is Hoof Conditioner For Horses Necessary?
Hoof conditioner for horses is not always necessary, but you are unlikely to do any harm by applying it to your horse. However, in some situations, the wrong hoof conditioner may do more harm than good.
The hoof of the horse is made up of the same substance as human fingernails and toenails. To be able to grow good quality hoof horns, the horse needs adequate nutrition and clean, hygienic living conditions. If either of these conditions are not met, no amount of hoof conditioner is going to compensate for this.
But in some situations, a horse can be well fed and live in an ideal situation, but still have poor quality hoof horns. The hoof horn may be prone to splitting, cracking, chipping, or crumbling.
A common reason for these problems occurring is a lack of moisture in the hoof horn. This is more common in horses that live in drier, warmer climates. If this is the reason that your horse has problems with his hooves, then a good-quality hoof conditioner may help.
However, your horse may have problems with his hooves because of other issues such as a low-grade thrush infection or living on damp, soiled bedding. In these situations, hoof conditioners may make the problem worse by adding even more moisture to the hoof.
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What Is The Best Hoof Conditioner For Horses To Use?
Although the hoof wall appears to be solid, it does contain some moisture. Normally, around 90% of this moisture comes from within and the rest is absorbed from the ground or atmosphere. This means we can ‘top up’ the amount of moisture in the hoof wall by applying a good quality hoof conditioner.
The best hoof conditioners to use for horses are water-based rather than oil-based. Although hoof oil was traditionally used on horses, it was found that it actually prevents moisture from entering the hoof as it seals the outer surface. A water-based hoof conditioner will penetrate the hoof wall, adding moisture without sealing it.
It is important not to seal the surface of the hoof as this tissue needs to be able to breathe. This is particularly the case with the sole of the hoof and the clefts of the frog, where moisture-related conditions such as thrush commonly occur.
So is a hoof conditioner for horses necessary or an unwanted expense? In most cases, it would be far better to focus your attention on keeping the hooves of the horse clean and dry and providing adequate nutrition for your horse. If a horse suffers from dry, brittle hooves then a daily application of a water-based hoof moisturizer may be beneficial.
Summary, Hoof Conditioner For Horses
So, as we have learned, a hoof conditioner for horses is not always necessary, but it can be useful in some situations. A good hoof conditioner will be moisture based rather than oil-based and will help to rehydrate and build good quality hoof tissue. If your horse suffers from poor quality hooves he may require systemic feed supplements as well as hoof conditioner.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the best hoof conditioner for horses? Do you put hoof conditioner on your horse every day or do you feel it is unnecessary? Maybe your horse always has dry hooves no matter what type of hoof conditioner you use. Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Do horses need hoof conditioner?
If a horse has poor quality hooves, then the focus should be on helping it to grow good quality hoof horn. This is achieved by ensuring the horse receives good quality nutrition, possibly including a feed supplement for hoof growth. In the short term, a good quality hoof conditioner could help to stabilise existing hoof horn.
How do you apply horse hoof conditioner?
Horse hoof conditioner should only ever be applied to clean dry hooves. If it is applied over dirt and moisture, it may seal this into cracks and crevices. This can lead to hoof problems such as thrush.
Where do you put a hoof conditioner?
Hoof conditioner for horses should be applied over all parts of the hoof, including the sole and heel bulbs. It can be applied on the hoof wall right up to the coronary band.
How do I moisturize my horse's hooves?
If your horses hooves are dry and brittle, a water based hoof conditioner can help to add moisture. You should also evaluate your horses diet to make sure it is nutritionally balanced. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can contribute to poor quality hoof horn.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE