How to Build Strong Healthy Horse Hooves

CHERRY HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER

September 2008

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Good Hoof Quality
  2008 Richard Klimesh   Copyright Information

"Poor quality hooves can cause all sorts of problems for you and for your horse. If he's barefoot, the soles and frogs can bruise easily, the hooves can break out in chunks and crack. If he's shod, a poor hoof will not hold nails well and lost shoes can be a frequent occurance. Read on to learn how to improve your horse's hooves."

 

 

Healthy horse hooves are dry, hard and tough - not brittle, spongy or soft. Factors that can affect hoof quality are:

  • genetics
  • poor nutrition
  • faulty metabolism
  • unhealthy environment
  • improper management
  • disease
  • certain drugs
  • and trauma

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillIn cases where hoof quality suffers from poor nutrition it could be that the horse is unable to synthesize essential nutrients, he's not getting the nutrients he needs from his diet, or that he is unable to efficiently process the feed he's getting.

Your Horse Barn DVDTo build strong hooves, a horse's ration should provide adequate amounts of the essential amino acid DL-methionine, biotin (a component of the vitamin B complex) and other nutrients. Often it is necessary to feed a hoof supplement to give the horse what is lacking in his hay or grain.

Because the hooves grow only about 1/4" per month it might take a while afer you start feeding a balanced hoof supplement to notice any improvement in the feet. However, there two other changes in your horse that you might notice sooner.

One is that his coat might be shinier and less brittle. This is because hair is made of the same materials as the hooves and nutrients that build strong hooves also make a healthy coat.

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping AlmanacThe other change is that your horse could fill out if he's thin or gain more weight if he's heavy. This is because nutrients in the hoof supplement will often help a horse utilize his regular feed more effectively. So you might need to adjust his hay and grain to keep your horse at a healthy weight.

If nutrition is adequate, poor quality hoofs might be due to the horse's genetic makeup and/or poor management practices.

Your Horse Barn DVDMore probelms are caused by feet being too wet than too dry. Many horses' feet are so susceptible to excess environmental moisture that even daily rinsing or a brief period in mud can cause the hoove to weaken, spread out and crack. Hooves need to be dry, hard and tough to withstand stress and abrasion.

If your horse's hooves are cracking and spreading because of mud, standing water, or irrigated pasture, for examples, they will likely benefit from the regular application of a hoof hardener or hoof sealer. Unlike traditional thick or creamy hoof dressings, hoof hardeners soak into the hoof wall and actually change the physical makeup of the hoof. They can help keep external moisture from weakening the hoof and prevent internal moisture from evaporating. Hoof hardeners and sealers are especially useful for hooves covered with tiny surface cracks, which are caused by frequent moisture changes and for soft, tender soles.

Longeing and Long Lining the Western HorseExercise is another vital ingredient in your horse's hoof building formula. Just like regular weight-bearing exercise is recommended for humans to build and maintain strong healthy bones, regular exercise is also necessary to build and maintain strong hooves for your horse. This is especially true if the the hooves are barefoot and not protected by shoes.

  2008 Richard Klimesh   Copyright Information

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  2009 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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