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 kind of hoof concerns are most often caused by poor nutrition?
By Milton Turner
A: When hooves are nutrient deficient, they grow at a slower rate than normal. With a barefoot horse, a slow growth rate may cause the hoof wall to wear away more rapidly than it is growing. If this happens, the sole becomes closer to the ground or comes in direct contact with the ground, which can cause bruising or potential lameness from excessive pressure being placed on the sole.
With a shod horse, a lack of hoof growth presents a different problem. When the horse is trimmed, less hoof wall will be removed than is normally the case. This often results in new nail holes being set too close to old nail holes.
When too many nail holes are in one part of the hoof, the area is weakened and is more likely to crack and break apart. A weakened hoof wall makes it easier for the shoes to come off, which tends to let the hoof break apart even more.
When hooves are nutrient deficient, hooves not only grow slower, but also lose strength. Nutrient-deficient hooves are usually weakest in the heels and in the quarters of the hoof wall. Given this weakness, the heels and quarters are more prone to break or collapse under the weight of the horse.
Slow growth and weakness also leads to low-angled hooves, which can place undue stress on the horse’s leg and result in injury, especially if the horse is worked hard. This makes it more difficult for the farrier to set the hooves at an angle that is appropriate for the horse’s conformation and/or gait. When the hoof angle is inappropriate, it affects the horse’s gait, joints, ligaments and tendons.
While many other hoof problems can be attributed to nutrient-deficient hooves, slow growth and weak hoof structure are among the most common concerns. These and other hoof problems caused by poor nutrition can be supported with a well-balanced diet and perhaps a high-quality hoof supplement.
Milton Turner is a farrier and marketing consultant located in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.
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 April 15, 2016 installment: How important are having proteins in the diet for hoof strength?