Hey Everyone -- back again! What a crazy season! Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day -- all wracked with "must do's". The horses and ponies are starting to shed BUT -- since our little herd is kept on 24/7 field with shelter then there's no formal tool grooming taking place quite yet. It was in the 50's last week only to find us buried under a slight coat of snow and freezing rain today. So they get to keep their yak coats and keep rolling and scratching and grooming each other to shed themselves out.
I trimmed up one of the horses and one of the ponies yesterday --- thinking it'll be an easy job because their hooves will be soft from all the moisture. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong! Wow -- have you ever tried trimming petrified wood? Their hooves could probably be soaked for 3 days (well, they really are as they do live outside most of the time) and they'd still be so hard that even brand new GE nippers can't get through the wall! The only things that were easy to trim were their frogs. Yes, I trim up frogs to take off any flaps where nasty little bacteria love to hide.
So, trimmed as much as I could and prayed for drier weather so the girls and boys can start trimming up their own hooves!
Now one of my ponies had an extremely traumatizing first year of his life so he still has his 'triggers' even after all but one year of life here on PENZANCE FARM. Every once in awhile I will hang onto his hoof to trim a bit longer than he deems 'safe' and tries to rear up. As cute as he is, that is still rather dangerous behavior. I don't punish him, though, as it is strictly a phobic and emotional reaction to his past. What I have found is that Lavender Essential Oil helps to calm him down. I don't like using chemicals and therefore have never tried to tranquilize him. Actually, I've never used tranquilizers for trimming hooves in over 30 years! That's with thousands of horses. Both Lavender and Vetiver essential oils are a great way to help calm even the most fractious horses and ponies!
Not only do I use Lavender Oil for calming, I also use it routinely while cleaning out hooves and trimming. When I have a specific Hoof Spray on hand made with 4 different essential oils, then I'll spray hooves with that to help protect and soothe as well as to help restore full hoof health on those who need it. (The illustrative recipe for the hoof spray is posted below.)
Essential oils help to protect and improve hoof health as well as soft tissue. Think of nasty hoof ailments such as "Mud Fever" or "Thrush" or "White Line Disease" -- they are especially beneficial for cuts and bruises. Essential Oils are a safe and "natural" way to help keep your horses' hooves in optimal soundness when combined with an overall protocol that includes an individualized specific diet and exercise. However, it is important to realize that medicinal quality essential oils are S.T.R.O.N.G. ... 50%-70% stronger than herbal teas or tinctures! So they must be used with care! Only use 100% pure oils with no lower grade oils substituted or artificial colors or perfume added.
Some oils that can be used with hooves are:
Oregano (must be diluted always! - never used 'straight')
These are all oils that I keep in the barn emergency kit at all times.
Some ways to USE the essential oils with hooves ... foot poultices, soaks, conditioners, drawing agents and, as mentioned above with my pony, calmatives.
Again, let me assure you that, when used correctly, pure essential oils are safe and tremendously effective for many hoof-related situations! And extremely cost-effective as well – literally costing just pennies per application. We ALL love cost-effective solutions for our horse and hoofcare, right?
Now, here is the HOOF SPRAY recipe for you --
You can also find me on my website as noted below!
Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the world-reknown author of "10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves" and "Natural Hoof Anthology" as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in NE Connecticut and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com
Gwenyth is available for freelance assignments, contract work and consulting.