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: How do hoof concerns relate to overall nutritional deficiencies in the horse?

From American Farriers Journal

A: The hoof sometimes is the first place for a nutritional deficiency to show up. Because of the farrier’s routine care of the feet, he or she can often notice slow growth or defects in hoof quality such as cracking or being unable to hold shoes.

Horse owners worry about a lot of things, but most don’t worry about the feet until they actually have a problem, says Steven Duren of Performance Horse Nutrition in Weiser, Idaho. They don’t pay attention to foot maintenance like they should.

Darren Owen, a farrier in Ivor, Va., feels it is essential for farriers to alert owners when they see a problem in the foot or the overall health of the horse that could be related to nutrition. One of the largest consumers of nutrients for the horse is dermal tissue, which includes the actual hoof.

When the hoof meets the ground, it is exposed to the worst elements a horse works in. If there’s a nutritional problem with the horse, it often leads to a breakdown in the horse’s feet.

Richard Tully, the co-owner of the Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic in Elkhorn, Wis. says that although a farrier can’t always make a definitive diagnosis, it’s important to be aware of changes in the foot and the overall condition of the horse and to pass this information along to the owner.

Good nutrition is essential to the hoof, the same as it is for all tissues, he says. Deficiencies show up in hoof wall and sole growth before they’re readily observed in the rest of the horse.

From “Balanced Diet Leads to Healthy Hooves,” an article that appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of American Farriers Journal.

Click here to read part 2 of the Feb. 15, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: How important is calcium for hoof health? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.