Dealing with Digestible Disorders

Your clients should recognize that several nutritional disorders are linked to hoof-care concerns

Farriers don’t have to be told that horses are what they eat. They can describe the impact of good or poor nutrition every time they take a pair of nippers to a hoof.

Diet doesn’t just have an impact on hoof horn quality, as horses can suffer from a broad range of diseases and disorders that are linked to nutrition. Some are caused by nutritional imbalances, while others have their root cause elsewhere but can be addressed with specialized nutrition.

Here’s a rundown on a few of the more common nutritionally linked disorders that will be of special interest to you and your hoof-care clients.

Developmental Orthopedic Disease

Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) is a catch-all phrase for a series of related syndromes that contribute to poor skeletal development in foals: angular limb deformities, osteochondrosis (a defect in the process by which cartilage is replaced by bone as a foal grows), osteochondritis dessicans (OCD), contracted tendons, cervical malformations, subchondral bone cysts, club foot and physitis (inflammation of the growth plates in the long bones of a growing foal).

Most forms of DOD are variations on the theme of abnormal bone growth in youngsters. While nutrition doesn’t provide all the answers, it does play a role in prevention. Nutritional excesses or imbalances can lead to rapid growth spurts in foals, which have been linked to a high incidence of osteochondrosis and physitis — especially during the crucial period when foals are weaned and make the transition from milk to solid food. Offering…

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Karen Briggs

As an equine nutritionist, Karen Briggs researched, designed and marketed a line of premium quality feeds for performance, pleasure and breeding horses. She’s also offered nutritional and ration balancing information to horse owners throughout Ontario. Located in Puslinch, Ontario, the award-winning equine writer is also a Canadian Equestrian Federal certified-riding instructor and has managed several Canadian farms and riding schools.

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