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.
This edition is sponsored by the W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine) of East Longmeadow, Mass.
Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: When poor nutrition seems to be a concern, what is the potential impact on the hoof?
By Milton Turner
When the hooves are nutrient deficient, they grow at a slower rate than normal.
With a barefoot horse, the slow growth rate may cause the hoof wall to wear away faster than it’s growing. If this happens, the sole drops closer to the ground or comes in direct contact with the ground. This can lead to bruising or potential lameness issues due to 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 the old nail holes. When there are too many nail holes in one part of the hoof, the area becomes weakened and is more likely to crack and break apart. A weakened hoof wall makes it easier for shoes to come off, which tends to cause the hoof to break apart even more.
When hooves are nutrient deficient, the hooves not only grow slower, but also are not as strong as they otherwise would be. Nutrient-deficient hooves are usually weakest in the heels and in the quarters of the hoof wall and are more prone to break or collapse under the horse’s weight.
Slow hoof growth and weakness usually leads to low-angled hooves. 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.
Low-angled hooves can place undue stress on the horse’s leg. This can result in injury, especially if the horse is worked hard.
However, slow hoof growth and weak hoof structure concerns can be corrected with a well-balanced diet and a high-quality hoof supplement.
Milton Turner is a farrier and independent marketing consultant located in Phoenix, Ariz.
Click here to read Part 2 of the November 1, 2017 installment: My laminitic horse already receives biotin in a supplement; is there any value to trying acupuncture?