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Feeding For Feet

Equine Answers
Posted by Equine Answers
July 12, 2019

Looking at How Nutrition Affects The Healthy Growth of Your Horse's Hooves

As horse owners, we spend a great deal of time and energy on calculating the perfect feeding regime for our equines. Sourcing the best quality hay and haylage at the right price and calculating feeding amounts is an ongoing process. We have to take into account whether or not our horses are good doers, or need a bit of extra supplementation at certain times of the year.

But how often do we ever stop and consider the impact that our carefully calculated feeding regime has on our horses' hooves? Of course, we’re quick to notice when cracks appear in the hoof wall, or when our horse loses one or more shoes within days of the farrier’s visit. Yet how many of us seriously spend time considering the state of our horses’ hooves, unless we’ve noticed a genuine cause for concern?

Most horsemen or women have encountered the familiar expression of ‘No hoof, no horse’. The relatively small weight-bearing area of the four hooves must carry not just the horse’s own bodyweight, but ours too, often while the horse is performing strenuous movements which increases the load placed on each hoof. The horse’s hoof is a particularly complex structure, so it’s absolutely crucial to the animal’s health that its diet should include all of the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are necessary to promote optimum hoof health.

Biotin has long been believed to be an excellent nutrient for optimum hoof health and research from the tail end of the twentieth century seems to bear this out. Scientists carried out in-depth research on 152 Lipizzaner horses, including a double-blind trial on 42 horses from the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The research study clearly showed that equines fed biotin supplements derived huge benefits from the nutrient, showing greatly improved hoof growth and strength.

Horses’ hooves are made up mostly of keratin, which is the same protein found in human hair and fingernails. Biotin is a key nutrient in promoting the healthy development of keratin, but extra help can be found by including two amino acids - methionine and lysine - which horses are unable to generate on their own. These important amino acids are vital for maintaining tendons, ligaments as well as cartilage, so they are essential additions to any good hoof supplement.

Just like us, horses can also benefit from the addition of zinc to their diet. Aside from helping to promote a healthy immune system, zinc is implicated in the health and strength of your horse’s hair and hooves. Yet the majority of equines are believed to lack sufficient zinc in their diets, even though the mineral is often added to horse feeds and is also present in hay. Zinc needs to be supplemented with copper to provide the optimum benefit, so these are two further key ingredients for an effective high-spec hoof supplement.

We’ve combined all of these ingredients in our Farriers Favourite hoof supplement, taking the guesswork out of your horse’s hoof supplementation needs. Obviously, it takes a few weeks for the benefits to become apparent, but once you see for yourself the difference that it makes to your horse’s hooves - and coat too - you’ll quickly realise the long-term benefits.

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