Look after your horse’s hooves

Under normal conditions, a horse’s hooves should maintain a natural moisture balance. However, sometimes they can get extra dry, cracked, and brittle in cold or dry weather. In this case, it’s a good idea to help your horse’s hooves maintain an ideal moisture level by applying hoof oil. You can easily make it at home using a few simple ingredients. Apply homemade hoof oil to protect your horse’s hooves from excessive moisture or prevent them from drying out.


  • 3 cups (710 ml) of coconut, olive, or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of lavender or tea tree oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of vitamin E oil (optional)
  • 12 cups (350 ml) of glycerin or lanolin (optional)
  • 12 cups (350 ml) of aloe vera gel (optional)

Makes 3–5 cups (710–1,180 ml) of oil

Use coconut oil to fight extreme brittleness. 

Coconut oil is a fast-absorbing and rich oil that would be perfect if your horses live in a very dry, drought-ridden environment. A thin coat of coconut oil provides deep moisture without making the hooves soft.

  • Because coconut oil turns solid below 76 °F (24 °C), it can be a little difficult to apply in the wintertime.
  • Find refined coconut oil in your local grocery store or natural foods store.

Choose vegetable or olive oil for a budget-friendly option. 

These oils are great for retaining moisture in the hooves. You can use one or the other, or mix half olive and half vegetable oil.

  • Find olive or vegetable oil in the grocery store. Buy the same type that you would use for cooking.

Give the oil a moisture boost with aloe vera. 

Use 1 part aloe vera for every 2 parts of your oil. Aloe vera is soothing and moisturizing, and it can help make your horse’s hooves smoother and shinier.

Increase the health benefits of your oil by adding essential oils.

Consider adding tea tree or lavender essential oil, which have antibacterial benefits. Vitamin E oil can act as a preservative, increasing the shelf life of your oil.

Use baby or mineral oil as an inexpensive polish.

These oils don’t have as many enriching ingredients, but they can be used to improve the look of your horse’s hooves. If you have a special occasion or show, apply mineral or baby oil to your horse’s hooves to make them shine.

  • You can also extend the life of your purchased hoof oil or polish by mixing in a little baby or mineral oil.

Pour your oils into the top section of a double boiler

If you are using more than one type of oil, combine them in equal parts to make 3 cups (710 ml). Pour the mixture into the top section of a double boiler. Don’t add any of the other ingredients yet.

  • If you don’t have a double boiler, you can also place a mixing bowl on top of a saucepan.

Heat the oils for 2-3 minutes.

Fill the bottom section of the boiler with 2 inches (5.1 cm) of water. Heat on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until all the oils have combined.

Mix lanolin into the warm oil if you’re adding some to your hoof oil. 

Once you’ve mixed your oils together and heated them in a double boiler, add 1 12 cups (350 ml) of lanolin. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it is well-combined.

  • If you are just using one type of oil, heat up the oil in a double boiler before you mix in the lanolin to help the ingredients combine better.

Add any extra ingredients after the mixture has cooled.

Let your hoof oil sit and cool down to room temperature. Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) each of any essential oils you would like to use. Pour in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of Vitamin E oil as well, if you would like to give the oil extra preservative powers.

  • You can also add glycerin or aloe vera gel at this time, if you are using them.

Pour the finished hoof oil into an airtight container.

Use something that you can easily dip a brush into when you are ready to apply the oil. Be sure you can fully close and seal the container to protect and preserve the hoof oil when you aren’t using it.

  • Try cleaning out an old butter tub to store your oil.
  • You can use a funnel to help you pour the solution without spilling.

Use a hoof brush to apply a light coat of hoof oil to clean, dry hooves.

 Dip the brush in the oil and swipe it across the outside of each hoof. Cover the entire surface, including up 12 in (1.3 cm) into the hairline. Lift your horse’s foot and apply a coating to the underside of the hoof as well, covering the heel, frog, and sole.

  • If you don’t have a hoof brush, you can also use a 1 in (2.5 cm) wide paint brush.
  • Be sure to clean the top of your horse’s hooves and clean out the soles with a pick before applying the oil. Dirt and grime can interfere with the oil absorbing, and it can be very messy.
  • If you mixed various ingredients to make your oil, be sure to shake the container well before you dip your brush in.

Keep your horse in a clean, dry place while the oil absorbs.

Once you’ve applied the oil, don’t let it out to pasture or back in its stall right away. Give the oil some time to dry and absorb into the hoof. This should take about 30 minutes.

Apply the oil to extremely dry, cracked hooves every day for one week.

For an intensive hoof treatment, use the oil every single day for a maximum of 7 days. Reduce the frequency to about 3 times per week after that if your horse’s hooves are still dry.

Use the oil once per week to prevent splits and cracks in the hooves.

For the most part, your horse shouldn’t need to have hoof oil applied regularly because the hoof maintains the proper moisture levels naturally. However, if it has a tendency to get dry or cracked hooves, you can apply the oil once per week to help maintain the proper moisture levels.

Store the oil in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months

Keep the container tightly closed whenever you are not using the oil. If ever it starts to smell rancid, dispose of it and make a new mixture.

  • Try writing the date you made it somewhere on the container to help you determine when to make a new batch.
  • If you are using an unmixed oil, check the label on the container to find out its shelf life.

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I am a retired professional horse trainer, active Certified rider coach, I coach riders and their horses throughout Australia and New Zealand, I am the author of the book From Go To Whoa - Training Your Own Horse, I am also a Certified Nutritionist and a professional Keto Coach. I am a keen fisher woman and I love the gym where I weight train 4 days a week. I travel Australia full time now with my husband and our Jack Russell Doug, booking and holding clinics and lessons throughout the country for many remote horse riders as well as not so remote. I love coaching riders and their horses along with helping people with nutrition and the ketogenic diet.

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