picking hooves

Hoof picking – getting back to basics!


The WHY’s of picking your horse’s hooves are many – mainly it’s a task to prevent problems.


  • You can keep your barn aisle cleaner if you pick feet in the stall before you come out. A hoof pick on a baling twine loop hangs nicely from a stall door.


  • You have a chance to feel all of your horse’s legs and tendons, checking for heat and swelling, before he goes for exercise or turnout. If you find an injury, swelling, or something weird, you are not walking him or letting him loose on a hurt leg.


mud packed into a horse hoof

Hooves packed in gross like this get the thrush trapped in, and can act like glue for stones and pebbles to lodge themselves into!

  • You can make sure there is no thrush developing. Thrush is fairly easy to detect. You will smell it, and see black goo in the frog and grooves. In bad cases, it can migrate to the sole, also. Nip it in the bud.


  • Check for tweaked or loose shoes and missing or loose nails before you go anywhere. Here’s how to pull a shoe in case you need to do so.



hoof pick on a halter hook outside the stall

Hang a hoof pick on your horse’s halter hook for easy access before you take your horse out.


And here are the HOW’s of picking hooves.


  • I like a really good hoof pick with a long triangular pick. This shape is easier to get into the bulb/groove/shoe crevice where lots of things like to hide. I prefer a pick that also has a brush, this is great for sweeping out all the crud and dust and stuff. This also allows you to pick, sweep, and pick again if need be.


  • Work in good lighting. This is a MUST. I once pulled a piece of bark from a groove that I couldn’t see when picking in the stall but found minutes later when in better light. Some hoof picks have lights on them. Handy.


  • Be diligent. Pick hooves first thing, in the middle of things, and last thing. Do it again before and after riding and before and after turnout. You can never do it too much. The bonus to doing it all the time is that your horse will become quite good at it, so when you are somewhere new with your horse you are not needing to train this behavior.


Some other thoughts on hoof picking.


  • It may be handy to hang a hoof pick on the halter hook.


  • When in doubt, pick again. When in real doubt, call your Farrier or Veterinarian.


  • Don’t wait too long after a ride to pick. If you have no time and you must toss your horse away until later, pick the feet before you do so. It only takes a minute and can be the difference between lame for weeks, because of bruising or a stone, and healthy.


  • Pick just as often for barefoot horses as you would for a shod horse. Yes, the grooves are likely not as deep as a shod horse, but they can still get stuff stuck in there.


three styles of hoof pick

Did you know you can get hoof picks with magnets? They stick to your metal barn or posts! I love the ones with brushes – great to get out every bit of goo.


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