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Hoof Cracks: 3 reasons your horse has them and how to get rid of them


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Interesting read!! Thanks for posting!! We really have to stay on top of hoof care down here in the south where the ground can be completely flooded one day and then rock hard again 3 days later. I feel blessed to have a wonderful farrier who has been shoeing mine and my mom’s horses for over 15 years. He’s expensive, but so worth it. My guys feet stay balanced, and in the almost eight years I’ve owned him he’s only pulled one shoe. What are your thoughts on the various hoof supplements out there?

Here is an excerpt from my post featured on Horse Collabrative where it may be easier on the eyes :http://www.horsecollaborative.com/hoof-care-fact-vs-fiction/

I do not recommend hoof supplements until all other balance, management and environmental issues have been resolved. Horses with bad feet have normal levels of biotin in their blood. Despite what you may have heard, there is little evidence that supports that they have a significant impact on hoof growth or quality. These products cost well over $1 per day and there are valid, industry-wide concerns about the lack of regulation in the supplement industry.

Biotin is the main ingredient touted by the supplement makers to promote hoof growth. It is required, and not only for hooves, but for every cell in the body. What no one ever mentions, however, is that biotin deficiency is extremely rare. It is found in oats, hay and grass which are the staples of most horses’s diets. If you are feeding quality horse food, you should be fine.

Also, because hooves grows so slowly, it will take more than a year’s worth of supplementation to see the purported “results” that the supplement makers promise. I would like to suggest that it is more likely that improvements in the horses’ environment, management and farrier work is what leads to better looking hooves.

I am not a nutritionist. People seem to really like feeding the hoof supplements for the right reasons. They want to avoid or remedy a nasty hoof problem, and of course I do too. I just don’t think it’s possible to “supplement” your way out of the majority of the hoof problems I come across. The efforts and resources need to go into good shoeing and management first.

Thanks for the reply for reading!

Why do horses’ hooves grow so slowly in Tennessee? One of mine grows his hoof out coronet to ground in nine months. My previous horse took a bit over eleven months.

I started both horses on a selenium/vitamin E supplement at the same time and there was a striking difference in the new hoof. I watched it grow and noted the length of time it took, in part because it was quite a big difference between the two horses.

Great Question!

Hoof growth primarily correlates to heart rate. This is why foals and yearlings need to be trimmed more often than senior horses. Horses that are more active will also grow more than those confined to the stall although this may not evident because the stabled horse will not wear any foot either.

The smaller the horse, the quicker the hoof growth too. This is due to the higher heart rate and that the foot is smaller and less horn needs to be made for it to progress downward. This is why ponies and minis recover from founder easier than big horses.

Time of year plays a huge part as well. Feet grow way faster in May than January.

I am sure nutrition is helpful, but I have been looking at horse feet, all day, every day for the last 15 years. If I saw any evidence of supplementation working, I’d be preaching it. Feed premium food, premium farrier and eliminate the horse standing in wet. If that doesn’t work I would start spending money on supplementation.

As for Tennessee feet being different from elsewhere… I shod horses in Lexington KY for 10 years before here. Hooves are pretty much hooves. If you make a priority of it, most feet can be managed with persistence and attention to detail.

Thanks again for reading!

While I agree that trim and environment/lifestyle are huge factors in hoof health, so is nutrition. This is a great article on feeding for healthy hooves: http://www.naturalhorsetrim.com/FEEDING%20THE%20HOOF,%20Dr.%20Kellon.pdf

Yep, all the components have to be in place for a healthy foot.

I have seen dietary improvement make big differences in hoof health. But, I do agree with the comment “I do not recommend hoof supplements until all other balance, management and environmental issues have been resolved.” because IME, many more hoof problems are a direct cause of poor trimming, and to a lesser degree poor environmental management, and throwing the best diet and diet improvements at that horse won’t fix the foot.

There are indeed studies out there that prove that biotin supplementation can work. Not all the time, some horses revert back to poor hoof quality when taken off, some keep the same improved quality, some of the improvements are increased rate of growth, and some are denser hoof horn. All that means is, it comes down to what’s going on with that individual horse - are there digestive issues, is it a genetic issue that means they don’t metabolize X nutrient very well, etc.