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Nutrition help


I have a coming 4yr thoroughbred mare I bought off the track in November. 2 days after I bought her there was incident with the barn owner and long story short my new horse ran through a wire fence and sustained a 6 inch laceration to her front left leg that was very difficult to heal and she was pretty much non weight bearing on that leg for at least a month. She continued to be lame on that leg intermittently since but now seems ok.

She is on pasture 24/7 with unlimited hay. She gets fed 5lb tribute senior sport and 1.5lb alfalfa pellets a day. I also have her on Vermont blend as a balance/hoof supplement and she is also on tractgard and probios. She is a good weight currently and seems very comfortable but I’m dealing with rain rot and her front right hoof is not growing very much, the left front is growing significantly faster. She also has a very raggedy coat and is shedding much slower than the other horses. All of this makes me think something is nutritionally imbalanced but I feel like she is eating a decent diet right now. She is UTD on her worming schedule and is otherwise a healthy girl.

Part of me wonders if the hoof issue is from her offsetting weight for so long and she also lame on her front right now. I’ve taken her to a specialist and they can’t pinpoint why she’s lame but it blocks to the hoof. She did have a severe abscess blow right below her coronary band that has only grown out maybe half an inch in almost 4 months. Just looking for some advice on nutrition and to see if anyone has dealt with anything similar. I am working closely with my farrier and vet but the vet is not offering me much advice about diet or giving me suggestions.

Skin and hoof issues make me immediately think of copper and zinc supplementation. Senior Sport does not have added iron, which is helpful. Depending on your hay and water, though, she could still need additional Cu/Zn to balance. Uckele makes powder and pellet versions of copper and zinc that I’ve had great luck with.

There seems to be a misconception that Vermont Blend is a hoof supplement - it’s not. It’s a forage balancer, not intended to be fed in combination with the full recommended ration of a fortified feed (4-8lbs for Senior Sport). Adding VB on top of that creates a nutritional imbalance in and of itself.

I wouldn’t worry about the shedding at this point - it’s still very early in the season. Changes in diet and environment (like coming off the track in November) could change her growth and shedding pattern a bit. Good grooming and patience is probably all you need for now. Uneven hoof growth could be the same, or it could be a symptom of another issue. Have you had hoof rads done to make sure there’s not an internal issue or imbalance which could be impacting the RF? It’s also possible that the reduced movement and circulation in that hoof while she recovered from injury slowed the growth rate.

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Thanks for the info. Vermont blend is advertised as a hoof supplement and forage balancer and a large amount of people on the ottb forum I am apart of stated they had good luck with it as a hoof supplement hence why I figured I would try it, but I will discontinue it to avoid any further imbalances.

As far as the hooves, she has negative palmar angles and medial lateral imbalances. This was discovered when I took her to university of Tennessee for possible sequesters removal on the front left from the fence injury. The lameness started in January but the lack of growth has been present since I purchased her November 1st. Not to say the structural issues were not present at that time but she was sound when she came off the track and passed a PPE although I did not X-ray her hooves. The vet assumes it is from the lack of movement or over compensating during recovery. I am just at a loss with this horse and trying not to give up but it’s been a heck of a few months.

Lastly I will add she is at a boarding facility so I don’t have much control on hay and don’t feel it is worth getting it tested as I don’t know where it comes from and it doesn’t always come from the same place. We are in southern tennessee and the grass should be coming in very shortly.

Do you supplement vitamin e?

Didn’t see it listed above and super important if no green grass.

there’s plennnnty of cu and zn in the Vermont Blend though, even if it’s only a half serving

Agreed to an extent - it is, and isn’t, a “hoof supplement”. It has things similar to supplements labeled for feet, just more of the ones that matter the most - copper, zinc biotin, and lysine/methionine/threonine. The selenium content makes it a bit trickier to add than the typical “hoof supplement”

is there an actual plan in place to address this?

Often, “lack of growth” is deceiving, in that the growth is there but it’s getting squished. The “maybe half an inch in almost 4 months” is on the slow side, as average growth is about 1/4" a month. BUT, that average means a bit less over the Winter, and a bit more over the warmer months.

I agree iwth luvmyhackney that you may need to supplement vitamin E. You say she’s on pasture 24x7 but if it’s like in the pic, it likely isn’t contributing much. The Sr has 250IU/lb, so 5lb is 1250IU BUT, it’s a mix of natural and synthetic, probably about 50/50, so the 1250 is possibly more like around 1000IU. Technically, that’s enough, but optimally it’s not, not for a horse her sizse. It would be worth a blood test to see where she is on the current diet. My guess is she’s probably in the normal range, but it would be good to know for sure.

if your VB is a full serving I would cut it in half. The Sr Sport already has a decent amount of cu and zn in it.

Is there any way you can get a ground level side view of each front foot?

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I’d also want to crunch the numbers and make sure you aren’t overdosing selenium which is toxic. If your feed and your supplement have selenium in them this could be a problem.


Such good advice already given.

I see that coat and it reminds me of my new horse just a few months before I bought him. His coat was wirey and felt awful. Here he is a few months earlier for his Coggins picture. Poor guy. I did also find a FEC of 2100 . Have you done a FEC?

I put him on Santa Cruz Vitamin E at 4000/day and in 30 days we had a noticeable improvement. 60 days later his coat felt luxurious. If I were you I’d really get some Vitamin E going AND test so you know your starting point.

Here he is 4 months later:


Well done! He looks fabulous!!!


I will cut the Vermont blend in half until it is gone and then I will discontinue it. I will go ahead and get vitamin E and I’m assuming I should still supplement copper and zinc when the Vermont blend is gone? The horses are currently in their winter pasture but will be turned out next week in the summer pasture which is 50 acres of quality grass. I’m hoping that will help significantly. I tried my best to get some decent photos of her feet but it is hard making a baby thoroughbred stand still. These photos are 6 weeks since her last farrier visit. She was just shod today but I didn’t get a chance to get photos after.
Right front:

Left front:

She was seen at the university of Tennessee for this, the doctor there told me to follow up with my farrier and give her a couple months to mature and just be a horse and then see where we are at. He would not give me any instruction for my farrier but we are trying to manage her and correct her angles. I am getting another opinion by another farrier next week to make sure we are on the right track. We will recheck the xrays at some point in the next month or so to see if they are improving.

My farrier says she has abnormally small feet which is part of the problem especially since they are not growing very fast. I know it is winter and we are definitely making improvements as far as growth and the sole thickening up so that is good. Just a slow process but I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to give her a chance.

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He looks great!! I will get some. Thank you for the suggestion.


I don’t think you have a nutrition problem, I think you have a farriery problem. I see you already have a second farrier consult lined up. That’s EXCELLENT. I hope the other farrier will be better able to support your horse.


So those feet are horribly under run, the heels are way forward, and the right hoof is starting to pancake and dish. You may have a bit of a high low issue developing either mechanical or congenital.

When heels are run under this bad the toe starts to stretch and the growth is forward. This can look like the hood is not growing down.

My personal move would be to go barefoot with frequent trims until she’s rehabbed.


The pictures are consistent with the NPA found on the x rays previously as well. OP is smart to be bringing in another farrier

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what time of year did you start the E?

I don’t really mind a 1/2 serving of the VB on top of 5lb of the Sr Sport, which is on the lower end rate IIRC. If you drop it entirely, then it’s not possible to say whether you NEED to add cu/zn. Where does your hay come from/where are you? Not everywhere in the US has high iron/low cu zn.

You won’t need E since they’re getting ready to go out on all that grass.

The RF especially is way too long for 6 weeks, so either he’s not trimming well enough, or the cycle needs to be a lot shorter. The LF isn’t great either, it just stands up more.

Pics of the current trim since it was just done will be really helpful.

Did your farrier see the xrays?

Mid April but he was muzzled immediately and hadn’t been on grass for quite a while as I understood.

I should add that the horse was already having issues when this farrier took over he care. This is the third time he’s done her, I can post the current trim tomorrow I just didn’t have a chance when we were done today. I hate to just assume he isn’t experienced enough to correct this but I’m just getting anxious because my horse hasn’t been sound in 3 months. It’s also hard because I don’t know if I should expect her to show immediate improvement when the right combination of shoes/pads/trimming is on or of it will still take time.

The medical record and xrays were sent to my farrier but the university. I don’t have a copy or I would post them, I will be calling Monday to get a copy to give to the farrier that is giving me a second opinion so I can post them at that time.

It was specifically said not to pull her shoes by the vet. She has very thin soles and is a chronic abscesser so the vet said it was absolutely not worth the risk of of continuing to bruise and abscess when she is already unsound.

This is what she looked like when I brought her home in November. I have no photos of her feet from back then but you can kind of see where they are at in this photo.

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Her feet have really declined since you’ve had her much more run forward. But I see an asymmetriy between the left and right front feet already here.

The back feet look wierdly short

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She has been through a lot physically since I’ve had her. But she looks horrible In more ways than just her feet so I do think there are both nutritional issues and farrier issues going on.

I hear you. If the OTTB forum OP mentioned is the one I’m thinking of, people constantly recommend CA Trace and VB as a “hoof supplement” on top of literally any concoction of feeds under the sun. I’ve even seen one where someone suggested it for a horse who was already getting 10lbs of TC Senior a day. Drives me nuts, so that’s why I felt the distinction was important.


Just looking at these pictures I would say that the angles on her feet have deteriorated from when you bought her. There may well be a nutrition problem but there definitely is a farrier problem. Her back feet do look short but she had heels and her toe wasn’t running forward like it is now. And having her toe running forward contributes to the thin sole problem.