Put Your Best Hoof Forward

Everyone knows the saying, “No hoof, no horse.” But did you know that hoof quality has as much to do with what’s going on inside your horse as it does with his external environment?

A horse that receives proper nutrition will have stronger, more resilient hooves than a horse lacking the dietary foundation needed for hoof integrity. Unhealthy hooves are more prone to problems like chipping and cracking, and they don’t hold shoes well. If the hoof wall or other structures become damaged, this may even lead to soundness problems. To make sure your horse’s foundation is strong, be sure his diet provides the building blocks he needs for healthy hooves by feeding a hoof supplement.

Many factors influence your horse’s hooves, including his genetics, his environment and the type of work he does. However, all horses need certain nutritional components in their diets in order to have strong hooves. These nutrients, which can be provided by a quality hoof supplement, include specific vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Your horse’s body needs them to produce healthy connective tissues, which include the wall and sole of the hoof.

Biotin, a B vitamin, is the most common ingredient in many hoof supplements. Biotin is vital to growing durable hooves because of its role in collagen formation. Collagen helps form connective tissues throughout the body, including skin, bones, cartilage, tendons and hooves.

Research studies show that long-term, daily supplementation of Biotin may improve the growth rate and hardness of hooves, especially in horses with poor quality hoof horn. A relatively small percentage of hoof problems stem from a Biotin deficiency alone, so look for supplements that combine Biotin with other important nutrients.

Methionine is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be provided in the diet since the body cannot create enough of its own. Because Methionine contains sulfur, a key component of connective tissue, it is often included in hoof supplements. Lysine and Threonine are two more essential amino acids often included in hoof supplements.

Zinc is also important to hoof health. This micro-mineral has many important roles, including forming keratin, which makes hooves hard. Other minerals you might find in a hoof supplement include Copper, Cobalt and Manganese.

Fatty Acids like Omega 3s and Omega 6s are needed for more than just a shiny coat—they are necessary for moisture maintenance and pliability of hoof structure. Look for a hoof supplement that provides fatty acids from Flax Seed, Soy or Rice Bran.

Feeding a targeted supplement is an excellent way to improve or maintain your horse’s hoof quality. Plan to feed a hoof supplement for at least six months to see results—it takes time for new, healthier hoof to grow.

Step Up to Healthier Hooves

Healthy hooves start from the inside with a balanced diet that includes these three nutritional building blocks, among others.

Biotin

This B vitamin assists in keratin production and plays a vital role in the formation of connective tissues like the hoof horn. Studies show supplementing with Biotin may improve the growth rate and hardness of hooves.

Methionine

An amino acid that supplies the sulfur necessary for the cross-linking of connective tissue fibers that give hooves their strength.

Zinc

This trace mineral is a component of more than 100 enzymes in the body, and plays a key role in the proper formation of hooves and other connective tissues.

Supplements to Try

Farrier’s Formula Double Strength (#14675, $19.32)
10 mg Biotin
125 mg Zinc
2,650 mg Methionine
SmartHoof (#17401, $13.75)
20 mg Biotin
150 mg Zinc
2,500 mg Methionine
Glänzen 3 (#11420, $30.95)
30 mg Biotin
360 mg Zinc
6,500 mg Methionine
SmartHoof Ultra (#17402, $30.95)
30 mg Biotin
150 mg Zinc
4,000 mg Methionine
Grand Hoof Pellets (#12454, $16.55)
20 mg Biotin
250 mg Zinc
3,000 mg Methionine
Horseshoer’s Secret (#10815, $18.70)
7.5 mg Biotin
150 mg Zinc
1,448 mg Methionine
 
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