Painting Those Toes

Hoof dressings serve a number of purposes, including one that might surprise you!

When it comes to hoof dressing, things tend to get personal. Some horse folk are staunch believers in it, while others prefer to let their horses’ hooves go au naturel. Among those who believe in it, there are many different reasons they use it.


The best way to promote healthy hooves is through good nutrition and plenty of exercise.

But if you notice your horse’s tootsies getting a bit dry or cracking/chipping (and this may depend on the season, climate or footing), application of a moisture-balancing hoof dressing or oil like Hooflex® Therapeutic Conditioner Liquidor Hooflex® All Natural Dressing and Conditioneris a good way to condition and protect the exterior of the sole, frog and hoof wall. When applied regularly, dressings like these could help restore the moisture balance and flexibility to an otherwise brittle hoof. For maximum effectiveness, the dressing should be applied to the frog, the heel bulbs and around the coronary band. (As a bonus, Hooflex® Therapeutic Conditioner Liquidevencontains antibacterial and antifungal agents to help prevent infection.)

Note: If your horse’s hooves have endured a wet-dry-wet-dry cycle of late, some experts recommend using a hoof toughening dressing rather than one that softens the hoof wall.


In addition, some advocates use hoof dressing before competition to give an entry a dressier, more polished look. (The idea is the same as nail polish in humans, although we have yet to see a horse with a French manicure.)

Formulas such as Hooflex® Therapeutic Conditioner Liquidleave a healthy shine and work as an excellent show dressing, while natural alternatives like Hooflex® All Natural Dressing and Conditioner, which is free of petroleum distillates, enhance natural hoof color without artificial chemicals or dyes. The latter also penetrates fast and deep conditions for a natural shine with no greasy residue (you know, the kind that picks up arena footing as you trot around).


This in from experienced horse folk: When applied before bathing a horse, hoof dressing can also prevent water from getting into the nail holes on the hooves, potentially causing an expansion and contraction effect that could loosen the nails over time. “Moisture in and moisture out” … hmmm, sounds like a good idea.


Another very personal decision is whether to use a liquid or paste dressing.

Most liquid formulas come with a brush-in-cap applicator to minimize dripping. Others come in a thick paste that is easily applied with either a brush or a paper towel. The choice is up to you.

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