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.

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: Can an abrupt change in a horse’s diet impact hoof quality?

By Carlina Grey

When faced with this situation, I treat it like it is laminitis, but do not declare it to be laminitis or founder since it’s against the law for farriers to diagnose anything. Just tell the client their horse is displaying symptoms that could suggest laminitis or founder and have them call their vet.

I have a simple way of explaining the differences between metabolic laminitis and founder. A horse has a very small stomach in comparison to the size of its body. When a horse eats too much grain, fresh grass or hay with a high sugar content, it will spill into the animal’s hindgut. In the hindgut, a horse has millions of organisms that help the horse digest its food. As you might suspect, these organisms love sugar.

When there is a surplus of sugar, the population of organisms explodes and then starts to die. The bodies of these microflora then pollute the blood stream with toxins that affect the blood supply. When the blood supply is affected, the hoof’s bone starts to slowly tear away from the hoof. This allow the hoof’s very pointy bone to cut down through the hoof with every step a horse takes.

Remember that too much sugar leads to founder and founder means permanent hoof damage.

Carlina Grey is a farrier in Placerville, Calif.

Click here to read Part 2 of the March 1, 2018 installment: Can an abrupt change in a horse’s diet impact hoof quality?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.