Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trustee and qualified farrier shares his tips for taking care of your horse’s hooves this winter
One of the first farriers to receive Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) funding, Henry Middleton has pursued his passion for farriery following five years of training. Aid from the Trust has allowed Henry to work with polo teams, Grand Prix dressage horses, showjumpers and racehorses to broaden his knowledge and experience, which is vital to ensuring the horses in his care are kept happy and healthy.
QEST was set up to support British craftsmanship through scholarships and apprenticeship funding. QEST has awarded nearly £5,000,000 to 600 individuals across 130 disciplines – everything from guitar-making to thatching. It was founded in 1990 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II and, in 2017, HRH The Prince of Wales became the organisation’s patron.
While keeping your horse’s hooves in top condition can often feel like an uphill struggle – especially at this time of year when you’re knee-deep in mud and can’t recall the last time you went a week without prolonged downpours – the key is to keep it simple and make sure you’re doing the basics well. Henry shares his top tips for keeping your horse’s hooves in great condition through the winter months…
- Pick out his feet regularly. This helps avoid bacteria building around your horse’s frog, which can lead to thrush. Keeping his stable, mats and bedding clean will also make a huge difference when it comes to a healthy frog.
- Regular trimming. Whether your horse is shod or not, regular trimming is essential to his hoof health. Changes in his environment can affect the rate at which your horse’s hooves grow, so be aware of this when booking appointments with your farrier. Regular trimming will maintain an ideal foot balance, as well as giving you and your farrier the opportunity to thoroughly check over your horse’s feet.
- Pick the right product. Applying a high-quality hoof product will help ensure your horse’s hoof wall receives the nourishment it needs to stay elastic and supple. The correct product will also support hoof growth and prevent the horn from becoming dry or brittle. Speak to your farrier for advice on the right product for your horse’s needs.