You’ve finally decided to grab the hoof nippers, rasp, and gloves to take care of a broken horse hoof, only to find it’s a case of “horse hoof trimmed too short.” Now what? Can your horse recover from this mishap? What can you do to help them recover quickly?
Horses’ hooves grow at a rate of ¼ inch to ⅜ inch per month. This is influenced by the horse’s diet, terrain where the horse moves, their age, and even their overall health. However, a horse will eventually regrow their nail length if you’ve trimmed their hoof too short.
The care your horse receives while they regrow their hoof can determine the effects of the short hoof and what to do about it. Like a vehicle where the wheel alignment is out, a shorter hoof on one leg will place strain and extra wear on the other hooves.
There are a few options you can consider helping your horse face the problems of a shorter hoof.
What Problems Do a Short Horse Hoof Cause?
A short trimmed horse hoof can lead to a host of problems such as placing strain on the horse’s back, hips, ligaments, and neck. Even their teeth can grind unevenly if this problem is allowed to persist.
A horse with a shorter hoof can begin to limp, become physically unsound, and stumble more frequently. Horses walk on the edge or nail around their hooves.
When the hoof is trimmed too short, they walk on the soles of their hooves, which are connected to the soft and sensitive hoof tissue inside the hoof.
While the sole is thick and mostly insensitive, walking on it will cause pressure to be placed on the sensitive laminae inside the hoof. Laminitis can result due to this pressure.
When the horse’s one hoof is trimmed too short, it means they have to stretch that leg further to take a step, or the horse will take shorter steps on one side than the other.
However, a horse isn’t designed to stride unevenly, and as a result, they may step on themselves and develop muscle strain. All the connecting tissues will take additional pressure to try and carry the horse, which is no mean feat since a horse weighs anything from 800-1200 pounds.
As a result of trying to accommodate the imbalance, a horse may wear the shorter hoof away even faster, making it virtually impossible for their natural hoof growth to catch up.
What To Do If Your Horse’s Hoof Is Trimmed Too Short!
Assessing what the impact of your horse’s hoof length discrepancy may be will help you determine what to do. You may consider shoeing the shorter hoof if the difference in length is much more than the other hooves.
Alternatively, if shoeing the hoof isn’t possible, you can opt for a hoof boot or medicine boot to help make up the difference in height.
Consulting with your farrier may be a great place to start, and a simple video call can help you get information on how to treat the issue. If your farrier isn’t available, you can book a video call with a veterinarian to get some affordable advice.
Getting a vet out may be too costly if you live far into a farming area where the vet needs to charge a call-out fee.
You may be advised to trim the three other hooves shorter to address the imbalance, but this may make the horse sensitive. You may have to ensure they are kept in a pasture with soft footing for several weeks if not months.
If pressure starts causing abscesses in the sole of their hoof, you may need to fit your horse with a full set of hoof boots. The rubberized hoof boots will act like a fake nail, helping to take pressure off the horse’s hoof soles and protecting the hooves so new growth can happen.
Can You Leave A Short Horse Hoof To Grow Back By Itself?
A horse’s hoof will regrow over time, but it may require some assistance to help ensure the hoof grows back evenly. Regular rasping will ensure there are no split ends or cracks that can cause the hoof to break.
Keeping the horse on soft ground will help them grow better hooves and hoof length as there are no rocks to wear away the new hoof growth. Adding a supplement to your horse’s feed can help encourage hoof growth.
A daily dose of collagen, unflavored gelatin, or vitamin B can help encourage extra hoof growth and hoof strength. Treating any hoof or leg injuries quickly will also help prevent scar tissue forming on the hoof capsule, which can lead to breakage.
And finally, you should have loads of patience. A serious hoof injury can take as much as a year to fully grow out.
So if your horse’s hoof is trimmed too short, it can take several months to fully recover and grow out. On average, when you trim your horse’s hoof ⅜ of an inch too short, it will take as much as three to six months to recover fully due to breakage and uneven growth patterns.
While waiting for the hoof to grow longer, you may need to give your horse a break from ridden work, and you would be wise to monitor the situation daily. Something as inconspicuous as a tiny stone lodged in the frog’s grooves can lead to a serious injury and an abscess if not quickly removed and sanitized.
If you are not experienced enough to trim your own horse’s hooves yet, it is a good idea to only trim them while under the supervision of a qualified and experienced farrier. We all learn somewhere, but that learning shouldn’t endanger your horse’s health. A hoof that’s trimmed too short or shorter than the other hooves can cause substantial pain and discomfort to a horse.