Whether your horse is shod or barefoot, the health of his hooves is paramount for maintaining comfort, soundness and performance. Nutrition plays a key part in hoof management alongside environmental factors, here is our 6-point checklist for healthy hooves:
Most horse owners will have come across the vitamin known as biotin, or vitamin H. Biotin is used during metabolism and for general health so the horse is able to produce enough biotin from the microbes in his gut to meet his needs. Feeding 20mg of biotin to a horse with poor hooves has been shown to improve quality, strength and overall structure of the hooves.
Biotin alone is not a guaranteed solution. Hooves are complex materials and just adding biotin won’t cure the issue for all horses. To increase the chances of success, it is much better to feed a combination of key nutrients to support healthy hooves, rather than rely on one ingredient alone. These key ingredients include zinc, methionine and MSM (sulphur) which can all be found in the Foot Perfect Hoof Supplement.
The environment has a huge role to play in the health of our horse’s hooves. Prolonged wet weather can make the hooves soft and prone to infection, whereas prolonged dry weather will draw moisture out of the hoof wall making it brittle and prone to cracking and splitting. As owners, we should care for the exterior of our horses’ hooves, as much as the interior. Being aware of the environmental conditions and treating the hooves accordingly will go a long way to maintaining healthy hooves.
A common bacterial infection (and sometimes fungal) can lead to a condition known as thrush. The bacteria invade the clefts of the frog, creating a foul-smelling black discharge which can eat away the frog tissue and cause pain. Hoof confirmation can make a horse more prone to thrush, but the major cause is poor hygiene – dirty bedding and failure to pick the feet regularly. Infected hooves should be washed out and treated with an anti-septic such as Foot Perfect Hoof Spray. For long-term support, talk to your farrier about the confirmation of his hoof and frog.
White line disease
This is an opportunistic fungal disease, and prevention is definitely easier than cure! If the layers of the hoof wall start to separate, due to poor quality, poor shoeing, environmental conditions etc, the fungi can get into the gap, increasing the separation and eating into the tissue. If neglected, it can lead to a serious condition requiring hoof resection. Maintaining simple, good hoof care practices and hoof hygiene should prevent it almost entirely, or allow it to be treated quickly before spreading.
Have you ever noticed your horse’s hooves deteriorating in the autumn? When the blackberries are ripe in the hedges, this is traditionally known as the worse time for losing shoes, but why is this? It takes the best part of a year for your horse’s hooves to grow from the coronet to the toe, so think back about 9 – 12 months…. Your horse was going into winter, the grazing was losing quality, you were switching on to your winter feeding regime…. If he has poor feet at blackberry time, this is telling you that his diet last winter wasn’t quite up to scratch, and could have been lacking essential vitamins and minerals, including Biotin, Zinc & Methionine. Feeding a supplement like Foot Perfect alongside winter feeding helps overcome these issues come Autumn.