Cleaning your horse's hooves regularly will give you a chance to monitor the health of the foot, check the shoes and remove any sharp objects that may be lodged in there.
- Put a halter on your horse and secure him in cross ties or tether him to a rail using a quick release knot.
- Position yourself beside the horse's shoulder, facing toward the tail.
- Starting with the left front (near-fore) leg, run your hand down the leg and grasp the tuft of hair at the fetlock (ankle).
- Most horses take this as a cue to lift up the foot.
- If your horse doesn't pick up his foot, apply gentle pressure with your thumb and forefinger either side of the fetlock to encourage him to lift the foot.
- If he still doesn't pick up the foot, lean against him slightly, pushing his weight to the other foreleg, while encouraging him to lift his foot.
- Once his foot is lifted, hold the foot in the left hand and use the hoofpick in the right hand to begin cleaning.
- Start at the heel and use the hoofpick from heel to toe to remove mud and other debris. Be sure to clean the cleft between the sole and the frog.
- After you have removed mud and debris, check the condition of the frog. It should be firm, with no discharge.
- Check the shoes to make sure there are no loose or missing nails.
- Check to make sure the clenches haven't risen (make sure the nails aren't sticking out of the top side of the hoof)
- Repeat this procedure with the remaining three hooves.
- Apply a hoof conditioner/sealant as recommended by your farrier.
- If you are left-handed, you may be more comfortable holding the hoof with your right and and cleaning with the left.
- Stand close to the horse and face the tail. This will lessen the chance of you getting kicked.
- This procedure can be used on foals, along with tapping the hoofpick on the bottom of the hoof to prepare the young horse for future farrier visits.