Do you ever stare in awe at the sleek shiny horses, the glistening brass, perfect braids, and dazzling white marks at a CCI trot up? Do you ever wonder how they get that way? (LOTS of hard work is the correct answer!) Each Sunday morning we will bring you a little insider info on how the big-time grooms manage an upper level event horse. Feel free to email or comment with specific grooming questions if you have a topic in mind!
Today’s tip: Hoofcare
Of course it goes without saying, your horse should be properly trimmed/shod on a suitable schedule leading up to competition. Plan your farrier schedule well in advance, according to your competition plans, so that your horse won’t risk running with loose nails and long toes (a recipe for ripping a shoe off!).
This is especially important for three-days! Try to have your final shoeing 5-10 days before the Wednesday jog, that way the clinches are tight and strong. Any less than 5 days and you run into a possible hot nail appearing too late to fix before trot-up (it happens!!).
Now, to make those feet pretty. Use SOS pads to scrub any manure stains for a nice, clean foot; best if used wet and sudsy, but also work dry in a pinch. Applying hoof oil is my final step before the horse leaves the barn; I usually stand him in the barn aisle, or outside, to prevent shavings/dirt from icking it up. Use whatever particular oil product you prefer. I like the dark glossiness of Hooflex Liquid or Fiebings, but baby oil works just fine too. A small piece of sponge soaked in baby oil makes a great applicator. The darker oils make a nice contrast with white markings, without looking unnatural. Clear sealant polishes are also ok, but not my favorite (they are also very sticky, and make a huge mess when spilled in the tack box!). STAY AWAY from “black” polishes, especially on white feet. It just screams “I’m A Halter Horse!” and will have the fashion police snickering at you.
For a CCI jog, take your hoof product with you to the warmup area. Wipe the feet clean and apply a final coat of oil before the horse presents to the judges. Glistening feet clip-clopping soundly down the runway strip always make a good impression!
For interesting hoof-related information, see Fran Jurga’s hoof blog, including 2009 Badminton’s Best Shod Horse Award.