How do horse hooves grow? What factors play a role in hoof growth? Lots. There are many factors that play into how your horse grows about 1 cm of hoof a month - it boils down to genetics, environment, and how well you and your Farrier stay ahead of things!
Also consider these factors:
Here’s something else to consider. The vast majority of horses grow asymmetrically. That means their hoof maybe grows more toe than heel, maybe more on the inside than the outside, or maybe more on the outside than the inside. This is the critical reason why your farrier must maintain a regular schedule, even if your horse is desperate to grow some hoof, for whatever reason. Perhaps, if your horse lives in South Dakota, and it’s winter, and he grows absolutely symmetrically, you might be able to go one week longer between visits. Otherwise, keep your farrier on a schedule that works for your horse. Some horses are four weeks, some are eight, it will depend. Work with your team to determine the best schedule!
Regular maintenance is beneficial so that you are not overcorrecting an extreme situation, which requires a significant adjustment in terms of your horse "getting used" to his new hooves after a trim. By routine and frequent trimmings and shoeings on a tight schedule, you create a uniform shoeing cycle with no extremes, which helps your horse grow more hoof correctly. Maintain the hoof without dealing with extremes (too long here, too short there) and the hoof will be happy, comfortable, and grow well. A specific example of this would be a horse that grows a lot of toe, and while you think this may be great, it's the heel that takes the brunt of this as the toe grows out, and often times can prevent the heel from growing at all. Staying on top of this with regular hoof care and trimming prevents this type of situation, and your horse will thank you for it!
The key to hoof growth is blood flow, and the keys to blood flow are movement, diet and overall health. And, of course, paying attention to what's going on!
The horse’s hoof is an amazing structure, with layers and layers of tissue and function. The hoof wall is the barrier between the bones inside, as well as the soft tissue structures that hold your horse up!
The hoof wall is a changing structure, as is grows about 6 to 9mm a month. In a year’s time, most horses will have totally regrown their hoof wall. The majority of tissue in the hoof wall is keratin, and it’s about 25% water. If your horse is shod, the horse shoe nails go through the hoof wall.
In some parts of the county, the frozen ground is a welcome occurrence! Bugs are gone, snow might be coming, and the earth gets a time to rest. BUT - you horse’s hooves might not appreciate it so much.
Frozen ground is wickedly hard - harder than any concrete or asphalt road. It also likes to freeze rocks into place, creating little spikes in the ground. Your horse won’t be able to kick them out of the way, so tripping is a risk, as are nasty bruises from landing on one of those - even at the walk.
It’s almost inevitable that at some point, your horse will need his hooves soaked or iced. Common reasons for soaking a horse’s hoof include an abscess, white line treatment, or even icing for hoof bruises or laminitis. The best way to get this done is also the easiest way - with a Soaker Sack.