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’ve read selenium is essential for quality hoof growth. Can you explain its role in hoof growth?

By Connie Larson

A: Selenium is required in very small amounts as compared to either zinc or copper. The primary role of selenium in hoof growth is to protect the cell membranes as it works with vitamin E.

Contained inside the cell, selenium protects against oxidizing agents that can cause damage. Vitamin E is situated on the cell membrane, providing additional protection to keep the membrane intact.

While selenium is required in small amounts, it can create a disruption in normal hoof wall growth when horses consume higher levels over a period of time, The evidence of chronic selenium toxicity is first seen in the hooves and also in the horse’s mane and tail hair.

While selenium can replace the sulfur that is found in methionine and cysteine, the selenium doesn’t function in the same manner as the sulfur that is contained in these two amino acids. While these amino acids are needed to form the keratin proteins in the hoof, there are no longer adequate amounts of sulfur that are needed to provide bridging between the proteins found in these two amino acids. This weakens the tissue and in the case of mane and tail hair keratins, the strands are prone to breaking off.

In the hoof, weakened hoof walls can crack horizontally. In severe cases of selenium deficiency, the hoof capsule can even be sloughed off.

Connie Larson is an equine nutritionist with Zinpro Corp. in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). 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 February 15, 2016 installment: I’ve heard owners and trainers say that magnesium can help keep horses calm while they are being trimmed and shod. Does this work?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.