Tips For Healthy Equine Foot Care

We all know shoeing is important for horses, but no one is more passionate about the health of horse feet than Doug Hewlitt!  Doug Hewlitt has seen a lot in the last 16 years of full time shoeing in Colorado.  He got into the industry originally because he couldn’t find anyone else who he could trust to do a good enough job.  While training at the beginning as well, he soon became so busy as a farrier, that he couldn’t train as much.  Doug now travels to a few select barns and also has a huge client base that will drive sometimes hours to have him shoe their horses.

Doug was kind enough to share with us a few of his insider tips on keeping not only your horse’s feet clean, but in turn, the entire horse healthy!  

Doug’s Tips For Horse Care Between Shoeings:

  1. Clean your horse’s feet everyday. This is the number one thing you can do to keep your horse in healthy standing.  Doug sees so much thrush and white line thrush from horses in stalls that don’t get their feet cleaned.  All of which can be prevented.
  2. Work with your horse to stand and have his/her feet picked up.  This makes life easier on you for daily cleanings, but also makes things easier for your farrier.  You can’t do as good a job shoeing if the horse is always moving around or drug around, as compared to standing.  Trainers should work with them in between shoeings so that the times when the ferrier is there are spent focusing on the feet, not getting the horse in position.  
  3. Get your horse moving!  When the horse is moving, the debris get kicked off much more than if they are just standing in a stall.  Movement is good for you and your horse on so many levels, but it also helps to keep the feet clean!
  4. Apply Thrushbuster to the bottom of the foot.  A horse often stands in a stall at least 22 hours a day in either his own mess or other dirt.  Thrushbuster is a great product that helps keep the foot clean.
  5. Show horses are more susceptible to thrush and other foot problems because they often are in a stall or move slowly in a pasture by day.  Compare that to a reining horse who has rapid movement in training and in events.  The faster the movement, the less debris that can get lodged in the foot.  
  6. 100% alfalfa sometimes isn’t the best mix; switch to grass mix and it is possible that swelling will go down in the feet.  Horse owners should look at the bigger picture.  Sometimes you need to fix the fuel, not the tires.
  7. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.  There’s a lot of gimmicky stuff out there but the basics are the most important.  A horse’s feet need to be balanced and have the right angle.  Get your angles and foot balance and that never changes.  The horse always needs that, regardless of the latest and greatest techniques in shoeing.  
  8. Be aware of your climate.  For example, horses need to acclimate to harder ground in Colorado.  A horse new to this climate may just need reconditioning, rather than new shoeing technique.  

Hewlitt is originally from Southern Iowa, but came out to Colorado when he was around the age of 19.  He worked breaking a bunch of colts one summer and then went on to school in Lamar.  He grew up on a commercial dairy, where the family farm used horses in everyday life.  He says he broke his first horse at age 13 and felt like it was “plumb easy.”  He had found his call:  the horse life.  

Doug is based in Yuma, Colorado where he works with locals.  He also travels to the Front Range and the outer, eastern skirts of the Denver Metro area to a few select barns.  He loves the down-to-earth community of the Eastern Plains of Colorado, and getting to work his own horses.  He loves having a business and profession that combines his love of horses with an opportunity to promote overall health for the horses too!

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