Cleaning a Horse's Hoof

Horses October 30, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Betsy Greene, Equine Extension Specialist, University of Vermont 


Cleaning out Hoof

Cleaning out your horse's hooves is a task that should be done daily. Cleaning out the hooves can alert you of any problems in your horse's hooves and can also help to prevent common hoof problems such as bruises, corns or abscesses.

A hoof pick is used to pick debris out of the horse’s hooves.

To pick up the front foot, stand side by side with the horse facing the rear; place the near hand on horse’s shoulder; slide the outside hand down the horses leg, near the fetlock; slide the other hand down the rear cannon and lift the foot up.

Once the foot is lifted, cup it with the inside hand; Grasp the hoof pick and clean the hoof out, working from heel to toe.

Be sure to remove all debris and check for things such as rocks lodged within the foot. If a horse refuses to pick up his foot, the rear of the cannon area can be pinched to encourage lifting of the foot.

When cleaning is finished, gently set the foot down onto the ground.

To lift the hind foot; again; stand next to the horse facing the rear, place one hand on the hip; slide the other hand down the rear of the cannon, pull the foot forward and cup the foot with the inside hand.

Use of hoof pick on the hind foot is done exactly as was done with the front foot; working from heel to toe cleaning out all debris and checking for rocks or things that could have gotten caught within the horse’s foot.

Once finished, gently set the horse’s foot down onto the ground.

Picking out the horse's front hoof


For more information about horse care, check out the Horse Owner Survival Learning Lesson.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.