How do horse hooves grow? What factors play a role in hoof growth? Lots. There are many factors that play into how your horse grows about 1 cm of hoof a month - it boils down to genetics, environment, and how well you and your Farrier stay ahead of things!
Also consider these factors:
Here’s something else to consider. The vast majority of horses grow asymmetrically. That means their hoof maybe grows more toe than heel, maybe more on the inside than the outside, or maybe more on the outside than the inside. This is the critical reason why your farrier must maintain a regular schedule, even if your horse is desperate to grow some hoof, for whatever reason. Perhaps, if your horse lives in South Dakota, and it’s winter, and he grows absolutely symmetrically, you might be able to go one week longer between visits. Otherwise, keep your farrier on a schedule that works for your horse. Some horses are four weeks, some are eight, it will depend. Work with your team to determine the best schedule!
Regular maintenance is beneficial so that you are not overcorrecting an extreme situation, which requires a significant adjustment in terms of your horse "getting used" to his new hooves after a trim. By routine and frequent trimmings and shoeings on a tight schedule, you create a uniform shoeing cycle with no extremes, which helps your horse grow more hoof correctly. Maintain the hoof without dealing with extremes (too long here, too short there) and the hoof will be happy, comfortable, and grow well. A specific example of this would be a horse that grows a lot of toe, and while you think this may be great, it's the heel that takes the brunt of this as the toe grows out, and often times can prevent the heel from growing at all. Staying on top of this with regular hoof care and trimming prevents this type of situation, and your horse will thank you for it!
The key to hoof growth is blood flow, and the keys to blood flow are movement, diet and overall health. And, of course, paying attention to what's going on!
Help your horse keep his shoes on! Consider your horse's diet, farrier routine, and even how wet or dry his paddocks are. Learn some quick tips for helping your horse keep his shoes on.
The digital pulse is one way to get an instant reading of your horse’s hoof health! This pulse is found at the fetlock, and often reflects pain and inflammation in the hoof. Generally speaking, you may not be able to feel the digital pulse if the hoof is healthy and uninjured. However, as inflammation sets in, the pulse begins to strengthen and can often be strong to the point of bounding. This could be a sign of an abscess, a bruise, or laminitis. Your Veterinarian should always be called for any signs of hoof distress to rule out laminitis and start treatments.
The hoof is subject to stones, uneven terrain, bruises, thrush, and more! These are all situations in which a little tea tree and jojoba come in handy.
Always loop your Veterinarian in when your horse develops a hoof issue, to rule out laminitis and other painful conditions.