No Hoof, No Horse
Hoof care needs to be adjusted for weather. Sloppy conditions can make your horse’s feet soft and tender. Venice turpentine toughens up soles, pulls the sting out of them and is an antiseptic. THE OLD SCHOOL STANDARD, venice turpentine is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a proactive measure and effective treatment.
Always start with a hoof that is picked and brushed very CLEAN. I use a small plastic dandy brush that I designate for hooves. The stiff little bristles on hoof picks are not effective enough for me. You want to keep hooves super clean.
Made from the distillation of resin of larch trees, venice turpentine is sticky. You’ll need to heat it first and use gloves to keep your hands from getting gooey. Most tack shops sell warmers for the cans, but the hot plate of a coffee maker will also work well. Just take the cover off the can before heating. Old toothbrushes can also be handy for applying it.
Once warm, paint the soles and frogs of the clean hooves. You can do this every day, if need be. Some barns do it 3-5x a week during rainy seasons. Pay mind to the condition of each horse’s hooves and adjust as needed.
Usually it is applied before putting the horse back in his stall after work. Tossing a little bran on the hoof will keep bedding from sticking to the venice turpentine. Credit for that trick goes to Bernardo Mendoza.
To neatly organize and store your venice turpentine kit, it helps to use plastic zip bags. Remember, this stuff is gummy, so a clean up is a lot more difficult than managing well with a reliable system. I recommend three plastic re-sealable bags, one each for the: coffee maker/turpentine heater, bran and brush. Just be sure the heater is cool before putting it in the plastic bag. Store them all together.
Some barns pull shoes and turn horses out when they have an extended break from showing. Venice turpentine is used to help toughen the feet up when they go barefoot as well.
I'd like to send very special thanks to Sherry Robertson and Lucia Rittenhouse for their valuable input.
Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.
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