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: What is the impact of an overweight horse on the hoof?
By Shannon Pratt-Phillips
A: With numerous research studies showing that more than 50% of all horses are overweight, farriers and veterinarians are definitely seeing more horses with obesity concerns. And overfeeding certainly leads to a number of negative health consequences.
Adipose (fat) tissue produces numerous compounds that lead to inflammation in several parts of the horse's body, most notably the hoof. Other concerns occur with reproduction, heat dissipation, digestion (due to lipomas that are fatty masses found in the intestine that can cause blockages) and intolerance for exercise in obese horses.
Overweight horses carry a significantly higher risk for developing laminitis. Many horses that are obese also develop insulin resistance, which further predisposes a horse to laminitis.
Excessive weight can also have a negative impact on overall hoof health. As an example, proper blood circulation is partly attributed to the compression and expansion of the digital cushion within the hoof. Excess bodyweight can also result in additional strain on the hoof wall as it expands with each step in order to absorb normal shock and concussion. Over time, obesity may disrupt the integrity of the hoof wall, resulting in cracking or crumbling hooves. Plus, extra strain on the joints is of great concern, particularly with athletic horses.
The author is an assistant professor in the department of animal science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. where she specializes in equine nutrition.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 2 of the March 15, 2015 installment: What is the critical role of keratin and the development of hoof integrity in hoof nutrition?