Cracks that appear on your horse’s hooves in late summer may not be just a result of dry, hard ground. Annoying insects probably also play a role.
During bug season, flies crawling on your horse’s legs and belly can cause him to stomp for hours at a time. This repeated concussion can lead to footsoreness and cracks in his hooves. So, in addition to taking measures to reduce the overall fly population on your property, it’s wise to provide some individual relief from insects.
Fly spray can reduce insect-related stomping but needs to be reapplied periodically. For a long-term solution consider fly wraps—mesh leg coverings designed to keeps bugs off a horse’s lower limbs. For fly wraps to be effective, they must stay on, so keep the closures clean and the wraps themselves in good repair. You’ll also want to ensure that the wraps aren’t irritating your horse’s legs, so remove them daily and look for areas of abrasion. The strategic addition of moleskin or fleece can reduce rubbing; wraps that continue to chafe may be the wrong size or cut for your horse.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #467, August 2016.