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: Since my 17-year-old trail-riding horse isn’t used much these days, does he need to be trimmed as often?

By Kentucky Equine Research staff

A: This kind of thinking is understandable, as some older horses show less hoof growth than younger equines.

However, all hooves grow more rapidly at the toe than in the heel area. Over time, this difference in growth rate tips the pastern back, changing the stress on tendons and other joint structures. For older horses that may have arthritis or chronic discomfort from old injuries, regular trimming minimizes this strain and discomfort.

Remind the farrier of a senior horse’s age so he or she is aware of possible stiffness or pain that may keep the horse from cooperating. Farriers can adapt their work by slowly picking up legs, allowing them to stretch and bend gradually. The farrier can also work close to the horse rather than pulling a leg too far from the body, thus lifting the hoof no higher than necessary and setting each hoof down gently.

Some owners give their senior horses phenylbutazone (bute) before farrier visits. If this medication is used, owners should do so under the supervision of a veterinarian and realize that oral bute takes 8-12 hours to develop its full pain-relieving effect. For this reason, the medication should be given to the horse in the evening for a next-morning farrier visit, or early in the morning for a late afternoon appointment.

Good nutrition is important for the development of healthy hoof tissue and the use of a hoof supplement will guarantee that the older horse has all the nutrients necessary to keep hooves in good shape. Biotin can improve hoof health and a dose of 20 mg per day is recommended to strengthen hooves.

Free exercise is also a good idea for minimizing the development of stiffness and arthritic changes. Owners should pick out the hooves of older horses daily to enforce the habit of allowing the feet to be lifted and handled.

Kentucky Equine Research is a nutrition consulting company located in Versailles, Ky.

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Click here to read Part 2 of the Dec. 15, 2019 installment: Can’t horses be fed hay free-choice?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.