Cracked Hoof

Cracked Hoof


Some of my horses have cracks in their hooves. I feed alfalfa and grass hay twice a day and they also receive ADM Patriot 12% once daily. My horses are off duty all winter meaning I do not ride at all in the winter. What are they lacking nutritionally assuming this is a nutrition issue? Thank You. Kelly

Dear Kelly,

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It’s hard to know what your horses may be lacking nutritionally without additional information such as how much hay and grain you’re feeding as well as your horses’ age, weight and workload. And since horses are individuals with different genetics, even if you meet or exceed the NRC’s daily nutrient requirements in all categories yours may still require more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and/or fatty acids to build and maintain healthy feet.

Studies have shown that continuous dietary supplementation with biotin at a daily dose of 10 to 30mg for not less than six to nine months improves and maintains hoof horn quality in horses with less than optimum quality hoof 1.2. In horses that do not respond to biotin alone, other nutrients such as the limiting amino acids Lysine and Methionine, minerals such as Zinc and Copper, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids may provide additional nutritional support.

Finally, don’t forget about the importance of regular hoof care by a qualified professional, daily turnout, controlled exercise, and a clean, moisture-managed environment.

  1. Vet Rec. 1984 Dec 22-29;115(25-26):642-5. Clinical observations on the response of equine hoof defects to dietary supplementation with biotin. Comben N, Clark RJ, Sutherland DJ.
  2. Equine Vet J. 1995 May;27(3):175-82.Hoof horn abnormalities in Lipizzaner horses and the effect of dietary biotin on macroscopic aspects of hoof horn quality. Josseck H, Zenker W, Geyer H. Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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Posted in Ask the Vet, Nutrition, Skin, Coat & Hooves

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3 comments on “Cracked Hoof
  1. ashley says:

    Cracked hooves are “generally” long hooves. Get radiographs, breakover should be 1/4-1/2″ ahead of P3. A bevel or roll to the outer hoof wall helps deter chips and splits and it also a safe way to bring the toes back. And don’t over do the Alfalfa, screws up the calcium phosphorus ratio and generally doesn’t help hoof issues.

  2. Sherry says:

    My 14 year old Morab, Cody has always had cracked, flakey, soft-walled feet even though he has always been fed premium diets and hoof supplements. Last year, I started using Smart Hoof and the change has been miraculous. The hoof that is growing out is healthy and able to hold a shoe on with no problems. My farrier said yesterday that this is the best he’s ever seen Cody’s feet and tht whatever supplement I’m feeding, to keep feeding it! I totally intend to. Thanks, Smart Hoof for a product that has given my horse a better quality of foot and life!

  3. James Norris says:

    Is there any great hoof supplements to help with these types of situations? A cracked hoof is a pretty big deal. It makes things complicated in all aspects of the word.

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