Brittle hooves in horses

Brittle Hooves In Horses

When the ground gets hard and dry in summer, horse owners start to scrutinise their horse’s feet. They assume that brittle, cracked and chipped hooves are the result of prolonged, hot and dry weather, but environment is just one aspect that plays a part in your horse’s feet. Often nutrition and genetics are overlooked. More often than not, the condition of hooves is generally a reflection of his overall health. 

Nutrition 

Whilst some horses just inherit bad feet from their relatives, the importance of nutrition is frequently underestimated. If your horse is lacking protein or vitamins and minerals or has an unbalanced diet, his feet can really be affected. Always ensure your horse is being fed a proper, balanced diet. If your horse is just getting grass and/or hay, he may be missing some key nutrients. Adding a supplement may be the answer to giving your horse healthier hooves. Excellent hoof supplements are available on the market. When selecting a supplement, look for ingredients like biotin, selenium, Omega fatty acids, lysine, vitamin B, zinc, manganese, threonine and iodine.

First and Foremost 

The first and probably most important thing you'll need to repair your horse's hooves is a well-qualified, competent farrier. Farriers with limited ability should not work on horses with problems, as a relatively small problem can quickly turn it into a larger one that will take more time, effort and money to repair. If you are sure you have a qualified farrier, have him and your vet help you make a plan to repair your horse's dry, brittle hooves.

Dress with Care

When your horse’s hoof is dry, brittle, chipped or cracked, it sure sounds like a good idea to “treat” it by painting something on. Plus, these products claim that they moisturise and even help heal/repair damaged hooves. However, applying products such as these can cause more problems rather than solve them. Some products, such as oil, make the hooves reject moisture, which causes them to dry out. Walking around in wet grass every now and then is very good for the hooves of your horse. The hooves become elastic and shine without oil. During a dry period, it even helps to hose the hooves to hydrate them. 

Unfortunately, there’s really no replacement for the natural protective barrier in a hoof. Excessive use of dressings and oils can over-soften an already damaged foot. And horses with deep cracks can have sensitive tissues exposed to potentially irritating ingredients.

Maintain Movement

A lot of problems with hooves stem from bad care and/or insufficient movement. Movement is extremely important for the development of healthy feet, including the hooves and joints in the foot. Movement stimulates the blood flow and that is essential for the transport of nutrients to keep the hooves healthy, elastic and in top condition. So, even when it’s warm and sunny, you still need to exercise your horse - consider early mornings or later in the evenings when it is cooler.

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Author

Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

Comments

  • Michaela Roberts posted on June 06 2019 at 02:06 PM

    I used farriers formula on my horses when I 1st got them with them being ex racers their feet were terrible couldn’t keep shoes on for more than 3 wks at a time I was told by my farrier to use farriers formula and it is brilliant in 9 months my horses had brilliant feet I would highly recommend it

  • Michaela Roberts posted on May 29 2019 at 03:05 PM

    I used farriers formula on my horses when I 1st got them with them being ex racers their feet were terrible couldn’t keep shoes on for more than 3 wks at a time I was told by my farrier to use farriers formula and it is brilliant in 9 months my horses had brilliant feet I would highly recommend it

  • Sarah Mortimer posted on June 17 2020 at 10:06 AM

    I’ve found feeding either a specific hoof feeding or adding a hoof supplement to the diet really does help. The paste type of dressing lasts longer and seems more effective than the easier to apply liquids (usually oil). In hot weather I hose my horses feet before riding them apply paste after once the water has soaked in to help hold it in. My farrier once said if you start applying a dressing be prepared to continue using it, this is very good advice!

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