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SoCal/Dry Area people- hoof oil necessary?

Hi all. It’s super dry out here in CA and I and trying to figure out it hoof oil should be used on my horse’s feet. I grew up putting oil on before every ride because I was told to by my trainer. I never really asked why we did it or what it did for the hooves. After not riding for a while, I got my horse just as it started to get wet out here.
So I didn’t put any on at that point. I had battled thrush over the winter so I didn’t want his feet to be moist at all until that went away.

Now that it has, I was thinking of starting up again. However, I was doing some research on the various forums for what type of oil and it seemed like everyone was saying not to use it. Most of those people seemed to be on the east coast, where moisture definitely isn’t a problem. I wanted to reach out to people who are on my area and have to deal with dry conditions a lot.

So, should I be using good oil? Why? When is it useful? And if yes, which types are recommended?

no oil. Feet should be hard and dry. Whatever moisture they get into by way of hosing off is all they need. You can soak for 30 minutes or so before the farrier comes if that helps him (and it might make him just love you), but that’s all.

I live in AZ and never use oils or conditioners on my horses feet. Most farriers I have heard when asked if oil should be used reply “if it makes you feel good”. Good quality hoof comes from nutrition, movement, proper trimming, not oils and hoof potions.

soaking dry feet softens the protective sole and is not beneficial.

Am J Vet Res. 2012 Mar;73(3):435-8. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.73.3.435.
Effect of environmental conditions on degree of hoof wall hydration in horses.
Hampson BA1, de Laat MA, Mills PC, Pollitt CC.
Author information
1Australian Brumby Research Unit, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. b.hampson1@uq.edu.au
To determine the effect of various environmental conditions on the degree of hydration in hoof wall horn tissue from feral horses and investigate the effect of short-term foot soaking on moisture content in hoof wall and sole tissue in domestic horses.

40 feral horses from 3 environments (wet and boggy [n = 10], partially flooded [20], and constantly dry desert [10]) and 6 nonferal Quarter Horses.

The percentage of moisture content of hoof wall samples from feral horses was measured in vitro. In a separate evaluation, the percentage of moisture content of hoof wall and sole tissue was measured in the dry and soaked forefeet of Quarter Horses.

Mean ± SD percentage of moisture content was 29.6 ± 5.1%, 29.5 ± 5.8%, and 29.5 ± 2.9% for feral horses from the wet and boggy, partially flooded, and constantly dry desert environments, respectively. Moisture content did not differ among the 3 groups, nor did it differ between dry and soaked hoof wall samples from nonferal horses. However, soaking in water for 2 hours resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of moisture content of the sole.

Environmental conditions do not appear to affect moisture content in the hoof wall horn. Soaking horses’ feet regularly in water would be unlikely to change the degree of hydration in the hoof wall horn but may further hydrate the sole.

I use oil occasionally, but to do the REVERSE of softening! I put it on before giving my horse a bath or shower to limit the amount of softening that happens as a result of the water.

It also really depends on the type of hoof oil/conditioner that you are reffering to. If you mean the type you put on at a horse show, I would not reccomend using that on a regular basis as a means to strengthen the hoofs, or do anything at all really.

What is making you wonder about using hoof oil? Do your horses’ feet look healthy, is he sound, and does he hold shoes easily? Ideally you want hard strong feet that have just enough elasticisity to not just chip away, but if chipping is occuring, oil isn’t goig to stop that. Proper shoeing, and nutrition will.

I find alot of time when hooves are chipping or seem dry, really the protective layer has just been sanded down too much by the farrier, and the hoof just needs a chance to grow out. Especially in hunterland, I feel like farriers tends to make the hoofs “shiny” looking, and rasp down the outside (like buffing out your nails). We ride in a lot of sand rings out here, and so that step really isn’t needed. The sand naturally does it for us, without damaging or thining out the walls.