BarnManager Horse Health Series: Proper Hoof Care

Proper hoof health can be difficult to achieve at any time of year, especially during the months with higher temperatures and humidity. A solid, healthy hoof is even more difficult to attain in a warmer climate due to an increase in moisture in the environment. Dr. Stephen O’Grady of Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL, explains how moisture contributes to a weaker hoof infrastructure and offers steps owners and managers can take to help keep moisture away and strengthen horses’ hooves.

We tend to use more water to keep horses cool when the temperatures are high, both at competitions and at home. In many areas of the country, the humidity levels also increase during this time of year, adding moisture to the air and preventing hooves from drying as quickly. What happens to a hoof with excess water is similar to what would happen to a wooden plank that’s placed in a water trough: it becomes waterlogged, then softens and becomes weaker as a result.

It is best to tackle issues that accompany moisture by going straight to the source and minimizing the amount of water that comes in contact with the hooves. This can be accomplished in several ways:

  1. Give your horse fewer baths

Photo by Jump Media

Cutting down on how many times per day a horse is hosed can be difficult with competition horses that need to stay clean and that may be exercised, ridden, or shown several times per day. Still, it is important to be strategic about using water, especially on the legs. At home, try to occasionally let your horse air dry in front of the fan if a bath isn’t entirely necessary. Body clipping will help your horse’s heat tolerance this time of year and you may not have to use the hose after every ride.

  1. Avoid standing water

If you must bathe, be sure the horse isn’t standing in excess water that rises over the hoof capsule. Try to shower off the horse in a dry area so the surface underneath the horse does not contribute to the moisture level. After being bathed, move the horse to a dry surface so their hooves can thoroughly dry.

  1. Use hoof shields to direct water away from the hoof

A good preventative tool to use while hosing is tight-fitting bell boots that cover the hoof and prevent external water from running down onto the hoof. The same effect can be accomplished with a gallon-sized plastic bag. Simply cut the bottom of the bag, place the horse’s foot inside, and seal the bag just below the fetlock to prevent excess water from sliding down the hoof.

  1. Stand the horse in sawdust

Sawdust and similar materials have a drying effect on hooves. If hooves become saturated for any reason, let the horse stand in deep sawdust to extract the moisture. Shavings would work also, but sawdust is the most effective for absorbing moisture.

  1. Use a shellac-type hoof dressing

Photo by Jump Media

This type of product can help prevent the hoof from absorbing too much water if applied before baths or turnout. Ask your farrier or veterinarian to recommend options that will do the job when used one to two times per week. Boric acid powder can also be applied to horses’ feet once or twice a week, serving as an astringent for the hoof.

  1. Avoid turning out early in the morning

When humidity is high, the grass at dawn will have a high dew level, meaning horses will be standing on wet surfaces during the first hours spent outside. Though temperatures are cooler as the sun is still rising, for overall hoof health it’s best to wait until the grass has dried.

  1. Farriery may need to be changed during warmer months

Open the lines of communication between your veterinarian and farrier. This is a crucial step to ultimate hoof care. Each professional has a reason behind their decisions, and if the two work together as a team, the horse has a much higher chance of achieving optimal hoof health.

Achieving a healthy hoof is not solely a farrier’s job; it is a whole team effort and requires dedication and attention. By implementing these recommendations into your horse care routine, you can play a role in how moisture affects your horse’s hooves. When considering the effects of excessive moisture on the hoof wall, it’s important to understand there are other factors involved, including the age of horse, breed, genetic makeup, foot conformation, and current farriery practices. With open communication and implementing these measures as a team, you are on the right track to achieving a stronger and overall healthier hoof.

For a more in-depth explanation of horse hoof health, click HERE to read the full article from Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

NOTE: These guidelines are only suggestions, and you should always follow the specific instructions from your veterinarian.

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

BarnManager’s Favorite Equestrian Influencers

Many equestrians use social media to stay on top of the latest news and results in the sport. In addition to keeping up with your favorite riders and horse shows, consider adding a few influencers to your follow list and enjoy the wonderful world of horses from their perspective. Continue reading for a list of BarnManager’s favorite equestrian influencers on Instagram.


Alex Calder

Make sure to follow Alex Calder’s account @betweentwoears for beautiful views of Ireland through the ears of her horse Ben. Get a glimpse at the trails and fields of Ireland with some foal and pony posts mixed in.


Evan Donadt

You should definitely take a look at dressage groom Evan Donadt’s @evangrooms account if you are looking for fun. His videos featuring a lighthearted take on equine behavior and life around the barn will make just about anyone laugh out loud.


Matt Harnacke

Matt Harnacke documents what it’s like to be a model and dressage rider. Check out @matt_harnacke to follow along with his travels, watch videos of him riding during golden hour, and get an inside look at his life as the founder of @horseworld_tv.


Esme Higgs

Esme Higgs shares videos and photos promoting fashion, beauty, horses, travel, and equine welfare. Esme travels to top competitions around the world and shares her experiences with her followers on @this_esme. She also hosts a podcast, Esme’s Country Life, that offers a deeper dive into her love of the countryside, animals, horses, and riding.


Madelyn Houser

Follow along with Madelyn Houser’s equestrian adventures on @theblondeandthebay_. Madelyn chronicles the highs and lows of her dressage career, working with her husband’s roping horses, the funny realities of running a barn with her spouse, and more.


Bethany Lee

For a mix of horse training, fashion, fitness, and travel check out @myequestrianstyle. Bethany Lee shares videos and photos of recent horse shows, her favorite clothing items, her go-to fitness routine, and more. Bethany also interviews leaders from across the sport on The Equestrian Podcast.

Jack LaTorre

Equestrians aiming to improve their fitness for riding should head over to where dressage rider Jack LaTorre shares videos on why cross-training is important for equestrian athletes at all levels. Followers can learn exercises that can be done at the gym or at home to improve flexibility and strength to help improve their time in the saddle.


Brianna Noble

Brianna Noble is an inspirational urban cowgirl who is aiming to change lives. She works with youth from underprivileged communities in California and utilizes horsemanship as a tool toward a brighter future through her Humble project. Follow @urbancowgirl for motivational and fun photos plus an honest look at the equestrian industry.


Taryn Young

Taryn Young posts everything from encouraging quotes to favorite equestrian products and gifts on @warmbloodsandwine. As an amateur dressage rider, Taryn also shares photos and videos of herself competing.

Barn Upgrades for Horse Health

By Kim F. Miller

BarnManager is the Official Barn Management Software of US Equestrian.

If you are building a new barn or planning a remodel, one important factor to keep in mind is the importance of ventilation. Fresh, circulating air is the essential element veterinarians urge when planning barn upgrades that most affect our horse’s health and well-being. Designs and management strategies to reduce airborne dust and ammonia go hand-in-hand with prioritizing ventilation.

Minimizing injury risks and creating a suitable place for the veterinarian and other care providers to help your horse rank highly, too.


Even the most meticulously kept stable is loaded with tiny, respirable particles that impact our horses’ vulnerable respiratory systems. Forage is the healthiest diet foundation for most horses, but it’s also one of the biggest sources of these invisible bits of organic matter that trigger irritation and inflammation in the respiratory tract.

Photo courtesy of US Equestrian

Traditional bedding is right up there with hay as a source of organic dust. Ammonia is another inescapable element in the stable and it’s harmful — for your horse and for you.

Whatever the airborne particles consist of, ventilation keeps them moving along rather than settling in the horse’s breathing zone.

If you are building a new barn, you’ll want to maximize natural breezes by positioning the barn and the breezeways in their predominant path. Make those aisleways wide — ideally, at least 14 feet — to maximize airflow intake, and choose ceiling heights and air exits to harness the tendency of warm air to rise.

Installing more windows and/or doors is your best option in barn remodels and upgrades. The more places air can enter and exit, the better. Horses in stalls with two doors or windows, for example, benefit from living in an airflow corridor.

Continue reading on US Equestrian to learn more about how ambient temperature, fans, eliminating dust, flooring, safe spaces, and injury reduction are all important factors in barn building design.

BarnManager Horse Health Series: Equine Dentistry

Consistent equine dental exams are important for the health of a horse’s mouth as well as the rest of their body. The goals of equine dentistry may appear straightforward, but they include a complex system of evaluations that in turn affect the entire well-being of a horse. At its core, equine dentistry encompasses the objectives of maintaining even tooth wear, treating infection or disease, allowing for proper digestion, and promoting longevity. Dr. Tyler Davis of Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL, believes that routine and thorough dental exams can help prevent many issues from ever becoming problems.

Why do horses require dental care?

Horses grind their food into a finely masticated bolus before swallowing. The combination of a horse’s upper jaw being larger than the lower jaw, and the fact that a horse chews by moving their jaws from side-to-side results in uneven wear of the teeth. This uneven wear may cause sharp edges to form, which hinder efficient chewing and may ulcerate or tear the cheeks and tongue. Uneven wear can also cause the horse to swallow food that isn’t properly chewed and can lead to more daunting problems such as colic.

No horse is exempt from needing their teeth cared for by a veterinarian. For sport horses, however, dental care becomes even more crucial. Much of the connection between horse and rider comes by way of the horse’s mouth, and depending on the discipline, the horse may always have pressure in their mouth. If there are problems or discomfort within the mouth, it can become evident in the horse’s performance and disposition under saddle.

According to Dr. Davis, having a horse’s teeth in perfect shape allows one to immediately rule out dental issues when trying to troubleshoot a performance problem. A “sound mouth” also allows the best condition for supple, soft, and accurate connections between horse and rider through the bridle.

Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Equine Clinic

The most common signs of dental discomfort in horses include:

  • Head-tilting and tossing
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bit-chewing and tongue lolling
  • Tail-wringing, bucking, and other behavioral issues
  • Drooling and bad breath
  • Weight loss and spillage of grain (sometimes)

What is floating?

On a basic level, most horses require a routine float. Floating is the term for rasping or filing a horse’s teeth to ensure an even, properly aligned bite plane. While floating is the physical process, the scope of equine dentistry is much broader and examines the horse’s overall health as influenced by the mouth.

“A proper dental exam using a lightweight speculum, a very good light source, and a dental mirror allows me to see any possible problems and prevent those problems from becoming painful and affecting a horse’s performance and overall health,” said Dr. Davis.

How often should you have a veterinarian perform a routine dental exam on your horse?

Dr. Davis recommends an exam every 12 months at a minimum. For many sport horses, the demands of their competition schedule may require bi-yearly exams to prevent any problems that could sideline them from training or events. Lastly, any horse with a history of dental problems may require exams every three to four months. Without routine dental exams by a veterinarian, uneven wear can escalate to a serious health problem.

For a more in-depth explanation of equine dentistry, click HERE to read the full article from Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

NOTE: These guidelines are only suggestions, and you should always follow the specific instructions from your veterinarian.  

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

BarnManager’s Favorite Summer Barn Activities

Summer is a wonderful time to hang around at the barn. There are also lots of productive and fun jobs you can do with your friends while enjoying the warm weather. Keep reading to learn about BarnManager’s favorite activities to do at the barn during the summer.

Paint Jumps

Summer is a great time to repaint jumps. Start by gathering your standards, poles, and planks together so you can easily make a plan for the colors and patterns you want for everything. Set aside any wooden boxes or jump fill that need touching up as well. This is a great activity to do at the end of the day when everyone is done riding. You can order a pizza and make it an afternoon painting party. Also, remember to check the weather forecast so your freshly painted jumps can dry safely overnight.

Revamp Flower Boxes

Flower boxes often take a beating in the ring. Begin by checking to see if any need repairs. Wash them thoroughly by removing any flowers that can be separated from the boxes. Do your cleaning in the wash stall or outdoors so you can really scrub off dirt and footing from the larger pieces. If the boxes are wooden, it may be a good idea to repaint them.  Consider purchasing some new fake flowers online or at a discount store to replace any that are getting old. It’s also a great time to replace old and worn-out green felt or turf that covers hunter poles or boxes.

Take a Group Trail Ride

Take advantage of the warm weather and plan a trail ride. This a great barn family bonding activity and a nice opportunity for the horses to enjoy time outside of the arena. You can also organize a group lunch or picnic after the trail ride back at the barn.

Plant Flowers Around the Barn

Spruce up the outside of the barn by planting some flowers. You can either purchase pots to put them in or plant them in the ground if you have a nice area in mind. If you really want to go all out, consider setting up a vegetable garden. Of course, make sure to plant a lot of carrots for the horses!

Plan a Photoshoot

Pick a nice summer afternoon to stage a photoshoot with some of your barn friends. Although hiring a professional photographer is an option, you can also take turns going behind the camera yourself. Even if you do not have professional equipment, iPhones can take great photos with proper editing.

Make Horse Popsicles

It’s always nice to have a cool popsicle waiting for you after a ride in the summer heat. This summer, try creating this treat for your horse to enjoy too. Popsicles for horses are easy to make and a great way to help them stay hydrated. Be sure all of the ingredients you use are safe for horses to eat. There are many variations of horse popsicles online with easy recipes to follow. Check out a few horse popsicle recipes HERE.

Summer always goes by too fast so make sure you are taking full advantage of the warm weather and sunshine and enjoy the time with your horse and barn friends.

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

BarnManager Horse Health Series: Your Equine Chiropractic Questions Answered

Most horse owners say they take better care of their equine partners than themselves. While many maintenance treatments and products could be considered a luxury, veterinary chiropractic adjustments do not fall into that category. Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Dr. Ryan Lukens is a certified Veterinary Medical Manipulation Practitioner from the Chi Institute in Ocala, FL, and recommends all horses can benefit from regular chiropractic adjustments.

From minis to draft horses and pasture pets to top sport mounts, the parasympathetic stimulation triggered by chiropractic adjustments improves multiple facets of health for any equine. Therefore, veterinary chiropractic adjustments improve more than just athletic performance, and for sport horses, Dr. Lukens considers them a necessity.

According to Dr. Lukens, the benefits of veterinary chiropractic adjustments include:

  • Relief of pain and soreness
  • Increase in range of motion
  • Reversal of muscle atrophy through increased frequency of nerve activation
  • Increase in speed and accuracy of athletic movement
  • Adjustments can help calm the “fight or flight” response

Dr. Lukens outlines the “must know” details for any sport horse owner:

  1. Major Adjustment Points

There are 205 bones that comprise the skeleton of a horse, however, the equine chiropractor does not just adjust the skeleton. It is important to improve motion at segmented levels that involve bones and the supporting soft tissue structures and nerves. “Motion palpation” is used to test moving segments. If a segment is not moving freely in the appropriate directional planes, the equine chiropractor can perform an adjustment to correct the restriction of this movement.

Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Equine Clinic

Major adjustment points include the:

  • Mandible and tongue
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Poll and cervical vertebrae
  • Withers and sternum
  • Front and hind limbs
  • Thoracic and lumbar vertebrae
  • Pelvis/sacrum
  1. Every Horse Is Different

Veterinary chiropractic adjustments can be different for each horse and are often based on their discipline. The most common adjustments for various performance horses include:

Dressage: Balance is essential for dressage. The major points of balance affected by veterinary chiropractic work are the TMJ, hyoid, sternum, and cervical facets. Other common adjustments affected by lateral work include the shoulders, elbows, and pelvis.

Hunter/Jumper: Hunters and jumpers typically benefit from vertebral adjustments of the lumbar and upper cervical regions, ribs, sternum, front distal limbs, and the shoulders.

Eventing: Most eventing horses benefit from adjustments to the pelvis, all cervical vertebrae, TMJ, ribs, and the shoulders.

Western Disciplines: Reiners benefit from adjustments to their right shoulder, lower cervical facets, withers, and pelvis. Barrel racers benefit from shoulder, sacroiliac, and hip joint adjustments.

  1. Tips for Before and After an Adjustment

It is important that dental and farrier work is not overdue before veterinary chiropractic adjustments. Sharp dental points can cause adjustments to hold for shorter periods of time, especially in the poll, TMJ, and cervical vertebrae. In addition, if a horse is currently not shod well or has recently pulled a shoe, the adjustments of their limbs, back, pelvis, and sacrum may not provide long-lasting benefits.

Horses can be ridden and have a normal day before an appointment. They should not be ridden for the remainder of the day after an adjustment, but they can be turned out to pasture. Horses can be ridden as normal the following day, and it is a good idea to follow up with the veterinarian about how they felt.

  1. Solving Common Issues

Several common issues are often solved by a veterinary chiropractic adjustment. For jumpers, changes in jumping style (i.e. landing away from a front limb, only jumping off of a certain lead) and performance (hitting more rails than normal) could indicate a lack of range of motion that can often be corrected through a proper adjustment or series of adjustments.

For dressage horses, a change in balance could result in head tilting, not working through the back, lifting the lower cervical curve, or the hind limbs not following the path of the front limbs. That balance can often be reestablished with an adjustment.

In the western disciplines, a decrease in acceleration and turning can be indicative of the need for adjustments.

  1. Choosing Your Equine Chiropractor

A veterinarian trained in chiropractic adjustments is the safest choice for the horse. A veterinarian’s extensive knowledge of anatomy and understanding of when not to adjust a horse is an important part of ensuring the horse’s safety and well-being. If done improperly, adjustments can have adverse effects.

For a more in-depth explanation of equine chiropractic adjustments, click HERE to read the full article from Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

NOTE: These guidelines are only suggestions, and you should always follow the specific instructions from your veterinarian.  

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!