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: How well will my horses handle our area’s cold winter weather and will it have any impact on their feet?
By Darren Owen
One of the most common traits shared by a number of horse and pet owners is the wish to humanize their animals.
On a cold winter night, we as humans are comforted by a warm, cozy house and a nice, hot meal. It’s natural for us to want to bring that comfort to our horses because they kept outside or in a barn. However, horses aren’t aware that these winter comforts exist and simply don’t need them.
When it comes to comparing the analogy of human health to horses, take a look at poor fingernail and toenail quality.
This is often related to nutrition. As an example, people used to think consuming gelatin would result in stronger fingernails. We’ve evolved from this simplistic thinking and know more now about how diet affects fingernails and hoof health. In horses, we know how specific proteins, amino acids and B vitamins stimulate hoof growth. The horse itself will illustrate its needs.
Dermal tissue is a voracious consumer of nutrients in the horse’s body. With the foot being one of those structures that depends so desperately on specific nutrients, what we’ll see first is a breakdown in the foot. A farrier will recognize poor hoof quality such as chipping and the integrity of the foot won’t be very strong. We’ll know very quickly that this horse needs some assistance through supplementation or even an overhaul of its diet.
Darren Owen is the owner and operator of Indian Fields Farrier Service in Scottsville, Va.
Click here to read Part 2 of the November 15, 2017 installment: How important is Vitamin E in hoof development?