Taking care of hooves is an important aspect of keeping your horse happy and healthy. It can be difficult to keep your horse’s feet in good condition through daily care and feed alone. This is why many owners choose to use hoof supplements as part of a healthy foot care regime.
There are many types of hoof supplements on the market, but it can be very difficult to determine how well these would work for your horse. There is always an element of trial and error with most medications and nutritional supplements. Having a good knowledge of the ingredients included in hoof supplements is a very good start and can give you a good idea of how successful a supplement may be for your horse.
Let’s take a closer look at hoof supplements in general and learn more about what they do.
Why Would My Horse Need a Hoof Supplement?
There are many reasons why your horse may require a hoof supplement and quite often that need is based on a deficiency of some kind. Some common reasons for foot care supplementation are:
- Slow Hoof Growth
- Cracked and brittle hoof wall
- Thin Walls
- Weak Flaky Horn
- Thin and Soft Soles
- Weak Connections on the White Line
- General overall daily foot care
It is important to mention that your horse’s hooves do not need to be in bad shape to start using supplements. Many owners choose to use supplementation to keep their horse’s hooves as healthy as possible and as a prevention solution.
How Do I Feed Hoof Supplements?
It is true to say that if your horse has issues with their hooves or feet it is usually down to them not receiving enough vitamins and minerals in their diet. Supplementing can be a great way to give your horse all the nutrition they need without having to buy new types of specialized feeds.
As with all supplements, the key to success is feeding in the right amounts. Feeding below the recommended levels can lead to deficiencies which will often show up as hoof quality issues.
Improving hoof care can take time and it is always a wise idea to purchase at least a 60 day supply to get you going. Supplements can be fed daily directly into your horse’s feed and more often than not are sold in powder form for added convenience. Some owners, particularly for those that have horses who are messy eaters, find flavoured pellets more successful as there is generally less wastage than with powder.
Dosages vary from brand to brand, but will usually include a conveniently sized scoop. Always be sure to read the manufacturers guidelines and stick to the recommended doses. If you have any doubts always be sure to speak to your vet or a qualified nutritionist.
What Key Ingredients Are Inside Hoof Supplements?
Zinc is a trace mineral that has many a role to play in the equine body. It is particularly linked to the involvement with cell division and growth rates. Zinc is a necessary addition to the hardy hoof supplement as, without it, your horse will not truly utilize the amino acids which in turn prevents the production of Keratin. All 3 of these ingredients are important factors in the formula to allow for the very best results.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that is often in short supply within hay and grass. For this reason deficiencies in Lysine are common in horses and ponies and supplementation is highly recommended. It can be found in the keratin protein of the hoof and higher levels in your horse’s diet can help promote hoof growth.
Lysine is also known to converts fat to energy for bone health, healthy Coat, and weight management so you can see how highly beneficial this ingredient is generally for your horse’s well-being.
Biotin is a Sulphur containing vitamin B and is the most commonly identified nutrient for improving hoof quality. In a healthy digestive system, a horse would produce enough Biotin naturally to maintain healthy hooves however this isn’t always the case so supplementation is often necessary.
Omegas are the name for unsaturated fatty acids and are classed as essential oils that the horse cannot naturally produce themselves and therefore supplementation is essential. Two of the most common oils are omega 3 and 6 which are particularly important to a horse’s diet and are said to produce an anti-inflammatory response which could be particularly helpful for horses and ponies suffering from painful laminitis.
MSM is sometimes known as Methylsulphonylmethane is a rich source of mineral Sulphur in which the connective tissue of all equines is made up of. It is a naturally occurring organic molecule that is most commonly found in fresh raw foods.
Studies have shown that certain doses of MSM have a positive effect on horses producing tighter laminar connection and mechanically stronger hooves (where the hoof texture becomes more like polished marble).
It is fair to say there hasn’t been enough research carried out on the long term effects of MSM for horses but it is considered to be one of the least toxic biological substances and Sulphur overdoses are rare.