Hoof Supplements vs Hoof Topicals

It’s rained on and off here outside Chicago for a while now. Due to standing in water, our horse’s hooves got soft. Our vet told us to give him Farrier’s Formula supplements, which we did. The horse trainer said supplements don’t work, touch up the hooves with a topical. Who’s right–and how can the answers be so different? Thank you. Marilyn

Dear Marilyn,

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They’re both right! Your veterinarian is addressing the issue from the inside out with ingredients like biotin, methionine, zinc, fatty acids and others that have been shown to improve the growth rate and hardness of hooves. Meanwhile your trainer is addressing the issue from the outside in, advising you to apply a barrier against excess moisture with a hoof sealant. For best success, I recommend you do both, as oral hoof supplements only affect the quality of new growth so it can take months to see an improvement. A topical hoof product will start to protect your horse’s feet right away. Now you just have to ask your farrier what he thinks!

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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6 comments on “Hoof Supplements vs Hoof Topicals
  1. Michelle Kincaid says:

    I’m very glad that this question was posted. I am in the Chicagoland area and have been contemplating which one to go with. Thank you!

  2. rhonda says:

    I have used Farriers Formula on my horse for a year and I have had great success with it.

  3. Nicole says:

    Glad the answer is both. It’s what my trainer and farrier both recomended. I’ve been doing that for a couple years now whenever I get a new horse with bad hooves I give the full strength of the suppliment but I cheat a little and only give half the suppliment once their hooves are in great shape. Never had to go back to full strength on any of my horses and the farriers always comment on them halving good hooves. I also feed other suppliments and some have a few of the same ingredients so thet may be a factor.

  4. Christine says:

    I’m glad to hear the answer as well! My former farrier said that oral supplements don’t really help because ingredients were used for all over the body, not just the horse. Duh. Haha, but I agree that it has to be both. I take supplements for my own fingernails and hair, and I can see a big difference, so why wouldn’t my horses. Great topic.

  5. James Norris says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. The hoof supplements seem to actually help the horses I have seen, but it depends on brand and the time of year. Keep up the great posts.

  6. Lisa Durham says:

    I’m happy to hear the reply as well! My former barrier said that oral supplements don’t really help because ingredient were used for all over the body, not just the horse, but I agree that it has to be both.

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