Daily Hoof Washing?

I have heard horses should get their feet washed every day, and that this is called the natural moisturizing cycle for hooves. In the horses you have observed in the wild, do they wet their feet every day? If so, please explain how they do it?   via e-mail

Horses and ponies that I have observed living in natural environments do have wet feet a good deal of the time.

Depending upon the climate, the weather, the time of the year, and the bodies of water around, their feet get wet in a wide variety of ways.

Whenever the grass is wet from rain, dew, or snow, the feet and lower legs are wet. Whenever horses encounter a natural body of water such as a pond, stream, or water hole, they paw at the edge or step in and paw, whether or not they drink or swim. They do get their feet and legs wet in those circumstances. So that's just about every day.

I have heard people who speak about natural hooves and their extraordinary health mention that horses get their feet wet or "washed" daily, and that it serves to moisturize the hooves. And they do get their feet wet and cleaned every day.

They also get dirt packed in the hoof, so that when the feet are not wet, they are packed with dirt.

One thing is for sure, most horses in wild situations have healthy feet compared to our domestic horses' feet. How much the daily wetting contributes to the health is probably not known.

About the Author

Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners