During wet weather outbreaks, one of the many struggles horse caretakers face is the persistent mud, muck and generally sloppy ground that can wreak havoc on our horses’ hoof health. Here in the South, the problem is compounded greatly by the black gumbo mud that sticks to everything. It packs our horses’ hooves, creating that oxygen-less environment that certain bacteria thrive in. Many of us have thrown much time and money at the problem. And trying to find the most cost-effective and long-lasting products to battle the issue often produces very limited results. During the last few years, I’ve been working to expand my own natural hoof care knowledge. As a result, I have had the honor of meeting quite a few professionals willing to share their knowledge. I’ve learned many new ways to attack these old problems thanks to them. One of these techniques was incredibly simple and very effective for me. It involves packing the hoof with a homemade concoction of bentonite clay and pure essential oils.
Bentonite Clay Benefits
The benefits of bentonite clay have been known since ancient times. It is used extensively for the skin, digestion, wound healing and detoxification. Its popularity has grown in recent years as more people become aware of these wide-range of benefits. It’s anti-microbial properties and ability to “bind” toxins make it uniquely suited to aide in hoof health during wet weather. Bentonite clay is quite helpful when it comes to abscesses – both in aiding the healing process after an abscess has erupted (on hoof or anywhere else on the body) and helping to draw out a known un-erupted abscess. For use on wounds, it provides a protective barrier against dirt/debris AND those nasty flies as well!
Ready-Made Bentonite Clay Products
There are several bentonite clay products that I’ve used in the past when I was first introduced to the concept. I first learned about this from a natural hoof trimmer that had created her own hoof health product called “Toe Jam”. She created her own special recipe of bentonite clay and other beneficial ingredients. It has been quite helpful and fairly cost effective, with the exception of the shipping cost, which was a little bit high but beyond her control.
I also tried the clay products offered by Redmond Equine. However, I found the moisture content of their products was too high for the purposes I was using them for. They had no “staying” power and just easily fell off of the areas I would apply them to.
Do-It-Yourself Bentonite Clay Recipe
Because I wanted to be able to customize the ingredients depending on the situation, I found it MUCH easier and incredibly cost-effective to just make my own. A high quality bentonite clay can be purchased off of Amazon very inexpensively. Then I can add whatever essential oils or other ingredients I want for added effect. Lavender, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Wintergreen and Peppermint are the ones I use the most. They have the widest range of helpful cleansing/soothing properties I have found. Be careful to only use high quality essential oils so as not to cause harmful skin reactions that may occur when using the cheap poorly designed oils found on the market. You can feel free to contact me directly about what I use and recommend.
To make the clay mixture, simply place about 3-4 ounces of the powder bentonite clay into a container and add about 10 drops of each oil to the mixture, along with any other desired ingredients. Then slowly start adding water and mixing with a utensil until the clay reaches the desired consistency. I prefer a fairly firm and sticky consistency. But not so much so that I can’t get it out of the jar. It is then ready for application.
For application to the hoof, simply pack it into the central sulcus on either side of the frog. Make sure to get it into every nook and cranny that bacteria can hide. You may need to reapply after several days. But I find that it will typically stay put for about 3-4 days except in very dry weather.
For application to other areas of the body, simply apply the mixture anywhere on the body you feel needs the extra layer of protection. You will likely have to apply daily.
Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer like I am, or you would just prefer to pay for a ready-made product that gets the job done right, I hope you will find one of the options noted above to be helpful in your hoof care routine! Please feel free to reach out to share your successes AND challenges. And as always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you need help or have questions.
This information is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition, nor is it meant to replace regular veterinary care. Always remember to consult your veterinarian before beginning any treatment plan on your horse!
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork, using essential oils for animals and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.