April 23, 2021 3 min read

1. Feed a quality, high dose and targeted mineral supplement

There are some key ingredients that relate to hoof health, but dosage is also extremely important.

Look out for the following at rough doses for a 500kg horse:

  • Zinc at around 1200mg/day
  • Copper at around 400mg/day
  • Selenium and Iodine at around 2mg/day
  • Biotin at 20mg/day

Optimal mineral balance helps the hoof tissue form, it also strengthens the horse’s resistance to fungal and bacterial infections in the hoof, such as thrush and seedy toe.

Some good examples of this:

This picture shows one of our clients’ horses’ hooves.

The horse was on a similar mineral mix to Missy’s Bucket, but it was at a lower dose and didn’t include some of the secondary ingredients like amino acids and vitamins.

You can clearly see the change in hoof tissue from halfway down the hoof where the mineral supplement was switched out for Missy’s Bucket. It didn’t seem like a big change in supplements, but the horse was obviously lacking in some ingredients.

Her coat also started to improve after the switch as well, it got a real metallic shine which she hadn’t had previously for a few years’ said her owner. 

This is another picture of two different horses hooves, the new hoof growth above the dots is clearly stronger and more healthy.

These two horses started on a high dose and appropriately balanced Mineral supplement, being Missy’s Bucket at this time.

2. Choose a good farrier and keep trimming intervals short

The more regular the trim/shoeing interval is the better.

Horses evolved to self-wear their hoof walls so it’s important to trim their toes regularity to make sure they stay in balance and don’t cause too much shearing pressure on the hoof capsule.

Long walls cause stress and strain on both the hoof capsule and the soft tissues and ligaments in the leg and in fact, can also affect the whole posture and movement of the horse by effecting the breakover point.

Imagine wearing shoes that were several sizes too big for you, then going to do an exercise class? Your back and legs would not thank you for it!

A good farrier will make sure your horses’ hooves are balanced properly and will be able to head off problems before they occur. They should also be able to advise you on other hoof related preventative measures.

3. Keep hooves out of the mud

Making sure your horse has somewhere relatively high and dry is important in the wetter months. This can be achieved by building up the height of their loafing area - where they like to stand and hang out for long periods.

Even better lay down some drainage, possibly with a gravel base and fill the area, around 4 inches, with round pea-gravel. As the name suggests, this is a small round pebble about the size of a pea. This will keep your horse’s hooves dry but not only that, it helps condition them to make them physically stronger. It’s also quite comfortable for the horse as they are able to self-adjust their joint angles, their solar surface is supported, the frogs are exfoliated and conditioned and get a change to breath and dry out. Win win on so many levels!

Also consider...

A couple of other things to note in regard to hoof health includes:

  • Jiao Gu Lan is a useful supportive herbal treatment for hoof issues, as an adaptogen, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and due to its ability to modulate nitric oxide, can increase the blood flow to the hoof which supports healing and growth.

  • Avoid excess sugars – an overdose of starch and sugars can play havoc with the growth and structure in the hoof, leading to laminitis, white line disease, seedy toe and wall flaring among others. Tighten the diet and choose low sugar alternatives.

  • No excess Iron - if your feed or supplement includes Iron then it might be time to reconsider. Iron is naturally VERY high in horse diets and it just does not need to be supplemented. An excess can cause a relative deficiency of other important trace minerals as it competes for absorption in the gut. It can kick the important ones, like copper and zinc, out of the system.

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