“My horse doesn’t need to be trimmed as often because he doesn’t grow much hoof in the winter.” I’ve heard this many times over in barns and general discussions with horse owners. As my clients know, I trim horses every 6 weeks, even in winter. I do make exceptions for horses that need a trim cycle of less than 6 weeks. On our own farm, the horses are typically trimmed every 3-4 weeks. However, due to my recent travel, they went a little longer and got overdue. Today, I finally trimmed them at 6 weeks and 1 day. I’ve noticed something before, and it was readily apparent again today.
I trimmed all 5 of our horses in succession. This isn’t about how well-behaved they were in the cross ties, how the dogs hung out under their hooves eating the scraps, or the icicles on their hair when they came in the barn. This is about the amount of hoof I had to trim on ALL 5 horses in FEBRUARY. 2 of the 5 horses are over 20 years old. NONE gets any grain, only hay pellets with supplements per each individual.
I used my nippers to trim the hooves on all 5 horses. In comparison, I probably only use my nippers to trim around 25% of client horses at a 6 week trim in the winter. The rest are done with just my rasp because the growth is not significant enough to alternate between the tools.
So what’s the big deal? I see the difference in hoof growth as a clear indicator of a mineral imbalance. As my clients also know, I am not a fan of grains for most horses. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “I only give my horse XX amount of grain so he gets his daily vitamins and minerals.” Do you eat Cookie Crisp cereal for your daily vitamins and minerals? After all, it is fortified just like grains for your horse. Of course not. You eat Cookie Crisp for the bits of chocolate in the cookie, just like horses love the molasses in the grain (read your bag tag before you tell me how “Safe” your “Choice” is).
So how do 5 horses on my farm grow more hoof all winter, without grain, compared to some horses I trim in the summer? It’s simple. They have Free Choice minerals. I’ve said it before: We only sell products we use and believe in. Dynamite’s Free Choice mineral program is one of those products. If you are interested, you can get more details and order here. Just check out the Free Choice Starter Pack. What’s great about the system is the horses regulate themselves. If you still are a doubter, and don’t take vitamins and minerals yourself, buy a good quality vitamin and mineral, take it daily, and track how often you need to trim your own nails. In fact, Dynamite has human products you can use too.
So, how do you know if your horse is growing enough hoof? It’s simple: watch your farrier/trimmer and see how much they take off every 6 weeks. And if Flash doesn’t need a trim but every 8-10 weeks, you have your answer.