“No foot – no horse.” This old saying is as true today as it ever was. Today’s equestrian sports are very demanding on the hooves of the horse.

When horses lived in their natural environment they travelled long distances over different terrains and this wear and tear and constant stimulation to the circulation in the foot, kept their hooves healthy by natural means.

Farriers and trimmers are always impressed with the improvement in the rate and quality of growth of horses’ hooves on the VF Natural Diet.

It’s important to realise that the sole of the horse’s foot is very porous and is made up of about 50% moisture. To keep this balance, water is absorbed through the sole, off the dew, from around the trough, walking in creeks or dams, or when hosed down after work. During prolonged periods of wet weather, only 20% of that moisture is retained and the other 30% is secreted out through the sole. Similarly during the dry weather some of the 50% moisture reservoir is absorbed. Weather extremes play havoc with horses’ feet, especially when frequent changes occur from very dry to very wet conditions.

The most effective and economical everyday hoof dressing to help combat both these problems is my Terrain Every Day Hoof Oil.

The ingredients are cold pressed linseed (aka flaxseed) oil, and the infused oils of Comfrey and Carrot Seed.

Here’s a review from Lee Oliver … “I purchased the Terrain Everyday Hoof Oil after finding it on a Google search for products to help quarter cracks. My lovely boy developed a full length crack in late February 2018. I found this product in April and have used it 2-3 a week since then. By November the crack has almost grown out (another 1-2 shoe cycles and it should be gone) and barely visible. My biggest fear was it would continue to split upwards during the growing out phase but this didn’t happen. The product is also lovely to use, not messy or greasy and has a pleasant and subtle odour. I also use it on my other horse who HATES hoof oils – if he sees them he will run away!! But if I let him smell this oil first he is happy for me to put it on him!!! Really highly recommend and will continue using it!”

Preventive nutrition and expert farrier/trimmer care with the VF Natural Diet including W P Equi-Vital, All Natural Feed Supplement, is a tried and true method of promoting sound, strong and rapid growth to the optimum of the horse’s genetic potential.

Here’s a review from Laura ….

“I truly love the results I have had with my 2 boys. Their coats are beautiful and glowing. My farrier even commented on their feet the last trip saying how much better they are. All in all they just seem happier and when out riding they are really stretching out and forward moving without being ‘hot’. Very happy.”

Brittle Hooves, Slow Growth, Weak Walls
For horses whose hooves are soft and crumbly or brittle, grow slowly or have weak walls or poor horn quality is the Terrain Every Day Hoof Oil decribed above.

Sudden and extreme lameness is the usual symptom of a hoof abscess, together with a digital pulse. This is located in the artery running down the inside of the horse’s leg just above the fetlock and can easily be felt if inflammation is present. Abscesses develop from punctures of the sole, subsolar bruising, corns and close nails. Some horses are prone to them without obvious cause.

Ideally your farrier should inspect the hoof to try to release the infection by making a very small drainage hole. This is not always possible as the infection may be making its way towards the coronet band where it will break out.


Whether there is a drainage hole or not, hot tubbing and poulticing is always beneficial to draw toxins out and provide pain relief. Shoes should be removed. Add a good handful of Epsom Salts to 5 litres of hot (not boiling) water in a wide mouthed rubber bucket and stand the horse’s foot in this for 20 minutes, once or twice daily.   If there is a drainage hole, after hot tubbing, dry off, then syringe with Hydrogen Peroxide then Castor Oil. In any case poultice with Slippery Elm Bark Powder straight or mixed with water, then bandage the whole foot to prevent dirt from entering. Trying to treat abscesses with penicillin is futile as it does not penetrate the hoof capsule. Also pain relief herbs or bute won’t work as it is the pressure from the abscess in the hoof which causes the pain.

Horses prone to repetitive abscesses or abscesses which are slow or stubborn to heal need blood cleansing preferably for a full blood cycle to prevent recurrence. Often this will drive further infection out in abscesses during the course of treatment or the infection may resolve internally.

Here’s a review from Melissa Pitman …

“I have always used Victoria’s diet and herbal remedies for my horses, so when my new Clydie X gelding Morris arrived, I asked her to treat him for a history of hoof abscesses. After a course of this formula, Morris has had no more hoof abscesses and the diet is producing excellent hoof growth.”

This condition is prevented by ensuring horses are not standing in dirty, moist conditions. Symptoms are accumulation of black, foul-smelling most material in the clefts of the frog. Treatment is twice daily picking and brushing out of the hooves and applying Eucalyptus Oil carefully to the affected area with a small syringe, being sure not to allow the oil to touch the skin, as it will burn.. If thrush is allowed to progress it can extend into the sensitive tissues and cause lameness, chronic infection and tissue damage.

Bruised Soles/Corns
Flat footed, thin soled horses are more prone to bruising than others. Causes of bruising are stones, excessive work on hard ground or poorly fitting shoes which cause a repetitive trauma. A corn is a bruise which occurs between the wall and bar of the hoof at the so-called seat of a corn. Lameness is usually worse on hard ground and is much less obvious on soft ground. It may also be intermittent or worse on turns or show up as a restricted stride. Treatment for corns is the same as for abscesses if the corn has become infected, together with expert farrier care. Corns which are not infected or bruises should be treated topically with my Confidence Specialty Hoof Oil, which also has many other uses. The ingredients are infused oils of Comfrey and Arnica plus Wintergreen Essential Oil.

Here’s a review from Tahnee Camilleri ….

“I was encouraged by Victoria to try her Confidence Speciality Hoof Oil as a possible alternative to cortisone coffin joint injections. After recently dealing with the complications of a joint infection from a joint injection I was willing to try a natural alternative. I am a seeing is believing person and I am beyond impressed with this product. This is easily a viable (and safe!) alternative to joint injections. I have tried this product on a number of my pacers who suffer inflammation in their feet, which until I tried Confidence Speciality Hoof Oil could only be managed with bute and/or injections.”

Oral treatment for bruising and corns is to homeopathic Arnica over the tongue hourly for 3 hours in acute cases following on 2 – 3 times daily until healed.

Seedy Toe/Wall Separation

When the wall separates at the toe, the condition is known as Seedy Toe. Anaerobic bacteria thrive causing the condition to spread. Seedy toe should be regularly cut back to healthy hoof, taking great care not to damage the sensitive laminae. It must be treated regularly with topical applications of Harry’s Lemon Grass Hoof Oil.

Here’s a review from Sandra Palmer …

“We have tried different methods over the years to stop Dexter’s seedy toe from reoccurring in his front feet. After using Harry’s Lemon Grass Hoof Oil daily for two months Dexter’s seedy toe has now gone. I would definitely recommend Harry’s Lemon Grass Hoof oil to anyone who is in the same situation – daily application does really make a difference.”

Grass cracks occur vertically in the hoof wall and extend upwards while sand cracks develop at the coronary band and extend downwards. Grass cracks are usually the result of the hoof becoming overgrown and splitting while sand cracks develop as a result of injury to the coronary band. Topical treatment is daily applications of Terrain Every Day Hoof Oil and regular trimming.

The oils in this product hydrate the hoof, heal cracks and promote hoof growth.

Correct Trimming and Shoeing

There are a couple of golden rules to learn, observe in your horses and discuss with your farrier or trimmer. “The longer the toe grows the greater the leverage it exerts and the greater the strain put on the tendons. Strain on the tendons is also increased by lowering the heels of the foot to excess. The ideal angle for the front of the hoof varies from one horse to another, depending on the individual’s conformation. The angle of the hoof, however, should be the same as that of the pastern (and this in turn is the same as the angle described by the shoulder). Thus a line drawn from the front of the fetlock to the coronary band and then on down the front of the hoof should be straight, with no deflection forwards or backwards at the coronary band.” (Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners)

Most performance horses in full work require shoeing for several major reasons. Normal growth of the foot cannot keep up with the wearing effect of regular work often on hard or compacted surfaces and shoes greatly assist balance and traction especially in sports where speed and fast turning is of paramount importance. Performance horses carry more weight in the form of a rider which loads the forehand much of the time, and therefore the front hooves.

There are always exceptions and many horses and ponies can be maintained in work with regular trimming, especially those who have naturally tough feet, which have never seen a shoe, and never need to.

© Victoria Ferguson Dip.Herb.Med.