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The hooves of a horse are, without a doubt, extremely important. Good hoof health begins by addressing your horse’s entire lifestyle. I’m sure we’ve all come across a horse that has cracked or chipped feet, perhaps even laminitis or navicular. Trimming or shoeing a horse is just a temporary fix to a much deeper problem. Take a look at these three essential steps to good hoof care. 1) Improving natural living conditions is the first step towards obtaining healthy hooves. Ideally, your horse should have access to a pasture or outdoor turnout at all times. This allows for freedom of movement. Stall confinement is not desirable or natural for your equine friend. 2) Regular exercise is another essential ingredient to your horse having healthy hooves. This could include going on frequent rides, hand walking, or keeping other horses in the pasture. Field design can actually encourage healthy movement, as well. If all else fails, space hay piles out to ensure he’s walking to different spots, and not munching continuously in the same area. Try to aim for 10 miles throughout the day. 3) Lastly, find a good farrier. Make sure they have the right knowledge and experience to correctly shape your horse’s hooves. There are many barefoot trimmers that are able to encourage strong and healthy feet. These three approaches will help guide your horse into a more natural lifestyle, and ultimately improve their hooves and overall wellbeing. (Originally published in December 2016).