Horse Hoof Growth - A Year in the Life a Healthy Hoof
When it comes to supporting healthy hoof growth, there are many factors to consider, but the one most horse owners forget is patience! Cracking, crumbling, chipping hooves are not a pretty sight, so many riders start their horses on a hoof supplement hoping for a quick fix. Unfortunately, just like our own fingernails, the hoof wall is mostly composed of dead tissue, so it can’t mend and heal. Instead, damaged sections have to be regrown and replaced, and even with the best supplement and farrier care, that’s going to take time.
How much time? Use our handy timeline to help you set realistic expectations.
Hoof growth rates vary from horse to horse according to a number of factors, including nutrition, maintenance, exercise/activity, climate, environment, and even time of year. However, the expected rate of growth will generally average 1/4” of new hoof per month. Since new growth starts at the coronary band, after the first month, you’ll only see a small strip of new, healthy hoof wall.
At four months, your horse’s hooves should have about one full inch of healthy growth at the top of the hoof wall. Keep in mind that this still leaves about three to four inches of older, “pre-healthy” hoof wall. This older section is never going to repair itself; you simply have to wait for it to grow all the way out. So don’t be discouraged if well over half your horse’s hoof still looks a little rough.
Top picks for healthier hooves
You’re over the halfway point now! A new heel should have fully grown in at this point, and you should see about two inches of healthy tissue extending down the front of the toe. (Heels don’t grow faster than toes, they’re just closer to the ground, so they’re fully grown out much more quickly.)
You did it! You waited it out, stuck with your supplement, environmental management, and farrier care, and now you’re rewarded with a totally new, healthy hoof wall. Your horse now has the solid foundation he needs to perform his best. Give yourself a pat on the back, then go for a ride — you deserve it! Don’t forget that maintenance is a big part of healthy hoof care, so keep up with your supplement, management, and farrier care!
“Foot” Note: While hoof growth rates are generally consistent across breeds, the overall
hoof length will definitely vary from Shetland to Shire (and everything in between).