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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 F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. 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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