HomeAbout MeFAQsServices ListPathologyCase StudiesDonkeysTipsHorse KeepingContact MeLinks


Do they work?

    First, you may ask what exactly are hoof hardeners? They are substances that you apply to the hoof in an effort to make the hoof tougher and less prone to damage. Now, as to "Do they work?". That depends.
   Hoof Hardeners are chemicals. There is nothing "natural" about them, and so really aren't part of a natural hoof care regime, if you are a purist on natural care. Pretty much what they do is dry out the hoof. It's not that the hooves are any better than before you applied them, and the effect is temporary and requires reapplication periodically.
    Hardeners may help in very soggy places or during a very wet period, as excess moisture does soften the hoof and make it easier to split/crack or break, especially in fly season when they stomp their feet hard. If you ride on rocks and pavement much, soggy feet won't fare as well as those that are dry. In nature, a horse likely wouldn't stand in excess moisture for long, and movement and varied terrain would help to maintain the natural moisture balance within.  So, considering that domestic horses don't live in ideal conditions a hoof hardener may be the answer in the right situations.  Many of the sealants that I recommend may be considered a hardener. I really only recommend them during wet seasons, or if you frequently bathe your horse, he wades in ponds or stock tank overflow. In general, the hoof is meant to have it's own natural ability to maintain moisture levels in the environment that the horse is living in. Putting chemicals on them interferes with the natural ability to adjust to moisture levels on a day to day basis.  There is a time and a place for everything...

Natural Hoof Hardeners 


   The best way to harden hooves naturally is to allow a more "natural" environment. Yes, in there may be wet periods and dry. Putting out rocks, gravel and so forth  that your horse(s) have to navigate, will toughen feet more than any chemicals you apply. I put rocks and gravel around my water tank. I don't overflow the tank, either. I don't think it's necessary. True hoof moisture comes from the blood supply of the foot and the amount of exercise they get, not from environmental water. Standing water and mud around the tank can become breeding grounds for fungus and bacteria that will cause cracks. They get enough environmental moisture from the natural rain and baths we give.

  •  Lots of exercise on well trimmed hooves will do more to condition the hoof to withstand any crazy weather.
  •  Don't stall your horse every time it rains or snows. They don't mind nearly as much as you do that they get wet. The exercise will keep the hooves healthy.   
  •  Avoid hoof dressings, moisturizers or oils. They actually soften the hoof too much, before the wet season even begins, promoting cracks and some infections
  • Keep hooves trimmed on a regular schedule. Flares, cracks and chips could be as sign that hoof growth has increased and your horse is simply in need of more frequent trimming for the season.

    If you simply must apply hardeners, do so only during extreme wet weather and closely follow the label on frequency (do not exceed the recommended number of applications), and don't apply to the hairline or frogs. These are more sensitive structures that you don't want to draw moisture out of. If your horse suffers from weak hoof walls that crack and split, its time to reconsider your feeding program or investigate a possible infection .