A very important grooming item is hoof care. I have to admit that I have been very lax in this area. It’s supposed to be easy to do, but I tell you, I did it today and I’m beat.
Here’s the deal: You have to convince your 1,000+ lb. (in my case, about 1,200 lbs.) animal to lift his foot for you and then you hold it and pick out the bottom of the hoof. It’s a very strange-looking piece of anatomy. It should be concave, and in the middle is an anatomical structure called a frog. Here’s a pretty good photo of a healthy (and shoeless) hoof:
All around the frog is the stuff your horse has picked up and packed in there that needs to be picked out, without damaging the frog. Valentine’s hooves, I’m ashamed to say, were quite packed with all kinds of stuff: mud (mostly), manure, straw and even a couple of rocks. There is a pretty good chance, based on the odor emanating from the junk I picked out, that he has thrush. That’s a nasty little fungus that grows in a hoof that isn’t kept clean. Here’s what his hoof looked like while I was cleaning it:
I’m also sorry to say that Valentine seems to be limping on his right rear leg now. He’s appeared to have a limp on that leg since we got him – that was the hoof that cast a shoe before we got him – but it’s more pronounced now. I think we’ll be calling the farrier out. Updates later.