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 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: From hoof quality to athletic ability, good nutrition influences every aspect of a horse’s health.

By Mike Barker

A: From hoof quality to athletic ability, good nutrition influences every aspect of a horse’s health. Nutritional imbalances result when a horse is fed too little or too much of a particular nutrient. Quality forage and grain should provide the bulk of a horse’s nutritional needs, but supplements also may be needed to balance a ration.

Over-supplementation and under-supplementation of nutrients can negatively affect a horse’s hoof growth and quality, as well as the overall health of the horse. Throughout the course of regularly scheduled visits, your farrier might notice some of the symptoms indicative of a nutritional imbalance:

  1. Poor, unthrifty hair coat that appears dull with hair that breaks easily, grows slowly or sheds frequently.
  2. Loss of muscle, especially along the topline, which may affect conformation and performance.
  3. Low energy levels.
  4. Slow-growing hooves that split, crack or flake.

Confronted by these challenges, it may be difficult to get a horse to maintain and hold a shoe between resets. Hooves affected by poor nutrition are also prone to secondary issues, such as thrush, white line disease, abscesses and microbial infections.

A balanced equine diet is made up of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. We have to balance each and every one of those nutrients to achieve the balanced diet each horse needs and avoid an excess or deficiency in a specific nutrient that the horse needs for daily function. 

If you suspect a nutrition imbalance is at the root of hoof care issues, consult an equine nutritionist and set nutritional goals for that horse and adjust its feeding program as needed.

Mike Barker is a product representative with Life Data Labs in Cherokee, Ala.

Click here to read part 1 of the July 1, 2021, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Can horses eating poisonous plants lead to serious hoof concerns? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.