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: I have limited turnout for my backyard horses, so how do I know if they’re getting enough vitamin D?

By Connie Larson, PhD

A: Vitamin D regulates a horse’s calcium and phosphorus levels through absorption, bone mineralization and demineralization. A deficiency of vitamin A can result in abnormal bone growth and also lead to a toxicity condition that causes calcium to be removed from bones, leaving them weak and brittle.

Vitamin D precursors in plants undergo transformation once they are absorbed and present in a horse’s skin. This process requires exposure of the skin to sunlight. One function of vitamin D is to control calcium metabolism, which includes absorption from the intestine, calcium movement in and out of the bone and regulation of the amount of calcium retained or excreted through the horse’s urine.

Connie Larson is an equine nutritionist and researcher with Zinpro Corp. in Eden Prairie, Minn. She has been a frequent contributor to American Farriers Journal and a speaker at several International Hoof-Care Summits.

Click here to read part 2 of the Aug. 5, 2021, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: How will starving a horse negatively affect hoof growth? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.