Saturday, January 29, 2011

Asking for Tips From Everyone....

Question from a reader asks.....

Any tips on making white hooves look better in the ring? My paint has four white legs past the knees/hocks. I think painted black hooves look silly on a horse who obviously has naturally white hooves. I currently use clear hoof polish and a top-coat of spray shine. They're shiny, but they still show uneven color. I have heard that it's possible to "sand" the hooves to remove the darker areas, but I'm unsure of the safety of that practice. I've noticed his feet look perfect when he's turned out in the snow, but I've tried scrubbing and it doesn't seem to work well enough. 

Personally I like the shiny white hooves and uneven coloring does not bother me at all. Depending on the coloring on the legs, black polish may just make your horse appear to be wearing clunky bell boots and could detract from the overall appearance. It could also make less than stellar movement stand out much more than it would otherwise. 
I'm not sure about sanding the hooves except for the smallest of uneven nicks or a sloppy nail filing from the farrier but that's just me.
So anyone and everyone with a tip for this reader? Please feel free to chime in with your experiences and preferences!
Oh and as for white, I'm still using corn starch or baby powder so I know I'm way behind the times on that! LOL! 


  1. This is my routine for my mare: use a stiff scrub brush to get them as clean as possible during her pre-show bath. Then, once they're dry, I use little squares of sandpaper to sand away the more caked on dirt, etc. It definitely takes some elbow grease, and doesn't always come out perfect, but when it does it looks great! Finishing touch is Absorbine clear hoof polish after I'm done sanding.

  2. I would say sand paper might depend on how often you're showing. I wouldn't do it every week. The farrier sands off the outer layer, so I wouldn't hesitate to do it a few times a year. To avoid it, a stiff brush as the previous reader suggested but after a bath as well (when the hooves are a little softer) may help. I totally agree that black on obviously white hooves looks awkward.

  3. I would go with the black polish. Anything else looks "unfinished" and when you go to the big APHA shows, all the white hooves are painted black.

  4. We use clear on all the hooves, white or not. The black can be tacky, especially on white legs/white hooves. Scrub with brush, sand if needed (sanding sponges are the best), then apply the clear. Have to disagree with the comment above; this is not the norm in Zone 5. In addition, a mess up with a little hoof black can ruin a damned nice showmanship jacket in a quick hurry.

  5. If anyone is still reading... I spent my time as a groom on the upper levels in Arabs. In halter you are not to use black on white hooves, period. Instant DQ for that one.

    Some people sand- some don't. Either way, you do what makes the hoof look the best, cleanest and most evenly 'colored'. After the bath be sure to use alcohol or witchhazel to remove all soap residue from the hoof. Then I use the neutral shoe polish. A quick thin coat, rubbed on with a rag, covered with a coat of clear hoof polish and taadaa. Hope this helps.


I am just one judge with one judge's opinion. Almost all of the classes I judge are based on the rules of USEF & AQHA. Judging a horse show is very subjective to the interpretation of the rules. Please keep this in mind when commenting.