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Should you use any products to moisturize hooves or let them be all natural?
  If you have read other pages in my site, you know that I'm not really fond of using commercial hoof moisturizers in general. However, generally, weather and environment is tends to fall into wet or average dry periods that are brief and cyclical and moisturizer is not needed. Many horses are kept in less than stellar environments that tend to be mushy and never really dry out properly and hooves tend to be too moist and soft and prone to fungal infections.
  Recently we have been seeing some record heat and drought in my area and hooves are hard, dry and brittle. Add stomping at flies and there is more breakage and chips than normal. If your horses' feet sound like glass when your farrier/trimmer nips them, then it wouldn't harm them to get a little moisture. Keep in mind, excessive wet-dry is harder on them than just being dry all the time. The good thing about this dryness is that the hooves are not likely to suffer from thrush and if treating for any fungal infections for hoof cracks you can get a jump start on fighting it. Really, the only time you need to add moisture is as a courtesy to your hoof care provider. Hard hooves are hard to trim and are hard on tools.

How do you moisturize them?


   Depends on what your end goal is. If you are wanting to soften them up for a farrier visit, it would be nice to soak them in water for up to an hour before they are expected to be trimmed. This will clean them, soften them for easier working and is not going to leave a greasy mess for the professional. Mud is something we are used to, so even standing them in mud is acceptable in my book-as long as it's not runny manure up to the hocks!

   If you are wanting to prevent cracking or add moisture in general, a little oil will work. Just please wait until AFTER the trim, or at least don't apply just before the trims. No one likes to hold a greasy foot in their lap. I do not recommend ANY hoof prep with "pertroleum" , "peteroletum" or "peteroleum jelly". It doesn't let the hoof breathe and can actually contribute to fungal infections in tiny fissures of the hoof wall. I would recommend liquid formula "Hoof Flex" by Absorbine, or just some oil from your kitchen. Oil absorbs into the hoof wall better, and won't contribute to fungal issues. You can apply to all parts of the hoof with a brush.  Most likely, though, it will make you feel better than it will your horse. However, in this extreme heat we've been having, applying this every couple of days might help keep hooves from being so brittle.

Once we get some rain and cooler temps, it won't be needed anymore.