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: Are stress rings in the hoof due to nutritional changes in the horse’s diet?

By Julie Davis, DVM and Richard Mansmann VMD, PhD

A: Nutrition may be reflected in the hoof wall as nutrients help regulate hoof growth. Sudden changes in the diet can affect the environment within the gastrointestinal tract by encouraging several types of bacteria to grow while inhibiting the growth of others. A change in the horse’s gut environment may cause an episode of systemic change that incites laminar hyperplasia and/or a change in the hoof growth rate, which results in the formation of raised rings in the hoof wall. 

If a sudden change in diet also brings a sudden increase in the horse’s body weight, buckling of the hoof tubules may contribute to the development of these rings.

Finding a stress ring in all four feet is likely due to a systemic change or inflammatory response. The duration of the inflammatory response or buckling of the tubules determines the vertical measurement of the ring, which is how thick it is from top to bottom. However, a stress ring developing in just one hoof is most likely the result of a change only in that one limb and probably is due to an injury to the horse.

Julie Davis is a graduate of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and equine veterinarian Richard Mansmann is a professor emeritus in podiatry and rehabilitation in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. This item is taken from an article they authored on “Nutrition May be the Culprit” in American Farriers Journal.

Click here to read part 2 of the Oct. 21, 2021, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: When it comes to the hoof, it seems like there are several misconceptions about the impact of nutrition. Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.