Nutrition: A Piece Of The Footcare Puzzle

Researchers share how our understanding of nutrition contributes to keeping hooves healthy

We know that proper nutrition is important for every function of living beings. In a general sense, horse people recognize this for equine hoof health. Research over the years regarding dietary needs of livestock and horses and its relation to hoof health have put science behind our observations.

“The exciting thing about nutrition is our new knowledge about nutrigenomics and how something as simple as biotin can turn on a gene in the animal that codes for increased hoof growth,” explains Stephen Duren, formerly of Kentucky Equine Research and founder of Performance Horse Nutrition.

“I think the things we’ll be able to learn from here forward will be discovered much quicker than what we learned in the past 20 years. I am not aware of anything in current research in nutrigenomics that is specific to hoof growth, but these types of studies can be done on anything.

“When we encounter a horse with poor hoof quality, we try to change a number of things to improve it. We try to manipulate and modify the environment — for example, keeping the horse out of the mud. We make sure its feet are trimmed and shod frequently.”

Working on the diet is a piece of that puzzle, adds Duren.

Start With A Balanced Diet

“Hoof supplements often contain a number of other things besides the most crucial ingredients,” says Duren. “You may see various fats, calcium, selenium, etc. These are all found in the horse’s natural diet (good pasture, grown on soil…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. Her new book, Horse Tales, is available on, and other online retailers.

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