Juliane Dykiel's Horsemanship Blog

Hoof Care Tip: When to Use Hoof Dressing

By Juliane Dykiel

I’ve always liked the idea of hoof dressing. Perhaps it’s a girl thing. After all, there are few things more rewarding than polishing our nails with clear polish and enjoying the clean, shiny result. For me, I get the same satisfaction when I grease up my horses’ feet.

However, I’ve always found it controversial. How helpful is it, really?

A lot of horse owners, I’ve noticed, apply it every day, while others say that it does absolutely nothing. Others say that you must only apply it when the hoof is wet, or else it will seal moisture out.

This controversial advice had been driving me crazy, so I set out to find the truth. Had I been wasting my time with hoof dressing, or was it really keeping my horses’ feet moisturized and healthy?

Where to apply it?

First of all, I learned something new in my research: very little affects the hoof wall other than proper trimming. Therefore, the sole and frog are what you should really pay attention to, and apply hoof dressing to, if needed.

When to use it?

A friend’s farrier also gave me a great tip that helps you tell whether or not your horse needs hoof dressing: Pick your horse’s foot, then feel the frog with your thumbnail. Is it spongy, or hard as a rock? Use your nail to test it out.


The frog tells you whether or not you need hoof dressing. This is what Mercedes’ sole looked like when we first got her. The frog was soft. We didn’t put hoof dressing on but might have applied a hoof sealer if we had one.

If the frog is rock hard and the bulbs are cracking, the hoof is too dry. In this case, he told me, slap hoof dressing on liberally until the problem is resolved and the frog is soft again.

If the frog is soft, he told me, there’s no point in using hoof dressing. Interestingly enough, horses’ feet are equally vulnerable to both moisture and dryness. Too much moisture can actually hurt the hoof.

Another product, called a hoof sealer, helps seal out excessive moisture yet preserves natural moisture.

Which products are best?

Pine tar seems to be, by popular opinion, the best product for when the hoof is too dry. There are debates that some other products, particularly petroleum-based ones, might suck natural moisture out.

Hoof sealers are good for softer frogs and wetter environments because they moderate the amount of moisture the hoof gets. Some recommended products are Tuff Stuff Hoof Sealant and Keratex Hoof Gel.

As a result of this research, I decided to go out and get a good supply of pine tar for when my horses’ feet are overly dry. I will use a sealer a couple of times a week as a preventative measure for excessive moisture.


Now, this blog is the result of quite a bit of internet research and the interviewing of several experts. I’m no expert myself, and, while interviewing, have gotten some controversial opinions. Therefore, if you disagree or have something else to share, please comment! Let us know what you think the truth about hoof dressing is, and how we can improve this blog. And if you agree, let us know as well! We’d love to hear from you!


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One thought on “Hoof Care Tip: When to Use Hoof Dressing

  1. Pingback: Hoof Dressing - Yay or Nay?

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