Healthy hooves are influenced by a variety of factors – some controllable and some not. Genetics, age, climate, environment, nutrition, activity, hoof care and breed, along with countless other factors, play a key role in how healthy your horse’s hoof is. Things like genetics and age can’t be controlled but proper hoof care is in our hands.
Proper nutrition is the start of healthy hoof growth. Your horse should have constant access to fresh water and free choice minerals. Since the horse’s diet is based on forage good hay should be given priority. In addition to good hay, a grain with essential nutrients can also be given. Healthy hoof care is an everyday thing – hooves don’t get time off. So it’s important to be diligent about caring for your horse’s hoof, inside and out.
Daily Hoof Care:
- Check all four hooves & pick out any dirt/mud/rocks/other debris using a hoof pick. Be mindful of the sensitive “V” of the hoof, the horse’s frog, as it is more sensitive than the other parts of the hoof.
- Make sure there are no injuries to the hoof or the leg.
- If your horse has shoes make sure they are all securely on the hoof – no loose nails or bent ends. If there is an issue with the shoe, be sure to get in touch with your farrier. The longer the horse walks on a thrown or loose shoe the possibility for injury and soreness increases.
In addition to daily hoof care, you can use topical products such as hoof dressing to maintain the appearance and feel of hooves. The use of hoof dressing is ideal if your horses live in an area that is particularly dry or if the horse has a naturally dry hoof. Hoof dressing is also beneficial to those horse’s that have minor cracks and splits in the hoof.
Benefits of Hoof Dressing:
- Helps to retain moisture to combat dry and brittle hooves
- Conditions and brings out natural shine
- Enhances texture
- Prevents cracks and splits
If your horse needs a little more support than the above mentioned practices, a feed through hoof supplement might be a good idea. Like so many other types of supplements, there are plenty of hoof supplements on the market to choose from. One difference, however, is that is can take approximately 6-9 months of using a hoof supplement to see any change or improvement. This is because the hoof grows at such a slow rate that the new (and hopefully improved) growth won’t be evident for quite some time. In accordance with that, hoof supplements typically need to be fed on a continued basis and not just during certain periods of time.
Key Ingredients in Horse Hoof Care Supplements:
- Vitamins: E, Biotin
- Minerals: Zinc, copper and calcium
- Amino acids/Proteins: Lysine, methionine and threonine
- Fatty Acids: Omega 3 & 6