Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Is the poor hoof quality on one of my horses likely due to poor nutrition?

By Scott Morrison, DVM

When poor hoof wall quality is evident in a horse, one of the first considerations is whether the diet is well balanced. When this occurs, some horse owners often think feeding more supplements is necessary.

Although nutrition certainly can be a culprit, there are also other potential causes to consider. A lot of hoof wall quality problems are multifactorial and can be the result of genetics, mechanical/shoeing problems, hydration, nutrition, coronary band pathology and chemical damage. In addition, horses with thin soles usually have poor quality hoof wall and horses with compromised coronary bands often generate poorly developed hoof walls.

Make no mistake, a well-balanced diet is critical for healthy hoof walls. Yet, there can be too much of a good thing.

Selenium serves as a good example. Horses need a little bit of selenium, but it’s bad when you give them a lot. It interferes with the disulfide bonds that help hold the protein structures of the hoof wall together. When you feed too much selenium, it replaces the sulfur and horizontal cracks develop. Horses with selenium toxicity can get really sore and can get severe founder.

Although there’s a possibility a horse is experiencing poor hoof quality because of an unbalanced diet, it’s important to examine all of the potential causes to avoid unintended consequences.

Scott Morrison is a farrier and equine veterinarian at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. He is also a member of the International Equine Veterinarian Hall of Fame.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.

Click here to read Part 2 of the Dec. 15, 2018 installment: My farrier says the hoof quality is extremely poor on my 6-year-old mare. Is nutrition to blame?
Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.