Healthy Hoof Growth
The coronet is responsible for the production of fibroblasts which then forms horny tissue. This normally grows at rate of 6-10mm a month. It takes around 12 months to reach the toe. Variations of diet and general condition cause horizontal rings to develop.
25%-33% of the hoof wall is water and optimum moisture content is essential for hoof quality.
The inner layers of the sensitive laminae and plantar cushion have around 45% water content. When the horse’s lymph system is good there is a constant supply of fluid preventing any moisture loss. Enforced inactivity will compromise circulation and hoof integrity.
No Hoof No Horse
Brittle Hooves, repetitive stone bruising, thrush White Line disease, sand cracks and laminitis are all symptoms of something not right either in the diet, trimming, shoeing and/or general environment.
Things that Cause the Hoof to Fail
- Inadequate access to ‘weeds or rough pasture’
- A diet low in biotin
- Inadequate levels of energy, protein, mineral and vitamin levels. Incorrectly proportioned calcium and phosphorous levels.
- Standing in areas infested with pathogens responsible for some of the above.
- Insufficient blood supply to the laminae.
- Constriction of capillaries that supply blood to the laminae. This causes the pain and damage when laminitis occurs.
- Incorrect shoeing or trimming ie angle of hoof in relation to the pastern etc.
- Incorrect trimming leading to unbalanced impact on the ground which will lead to a range of concussive injuries.
- Separation of the hoof wall from the white line leading to further cracking and dirt working its way high in behind the wall. This provides an entry point for fungal diseases.
- Incorrect moisture levels. Where horn is too dry it becomes brittle and if too moist, soft and crumbly.
- Outer hoof structures too moist these will not be able to resist outward push of inner structures and cause open-heeled flat feet vulnerable to bruising.
- If outer hoof structures too dry they push inwards too much causing the wall and hoof to contract.
This list is by no means exhaustive and there are many more factors contributing to poor hoof integrity.
General Hoof Management Tips:
- Correcting Moisture Levels A balance has to be established between absorption and evaporation of moisture from hoof surface and the underlying tissues.·
- In dry weather wash and dry feet then massage Coronet Cream into the coronet band to help stimulate the production of fibroblasts.
- Do not apply any product that seals the surface like stockholm tar which does not allow the movement of water in and out of hoof.
- Ensure that you get the best farrier you can to shoe your horses and don’t leave shoes on too long as this places pressure on the wall of the hoof causing damage.
- Those of you who are barefoot enthusiasts make sure trimming is done every few weeks correcting any uneven wear that could translate to unsoundness later on. Get the best practitioner you can afford. This will save you money in the long run.
- Keep the horse in work avoiding trotting on road seal to stimulate blood supply to hooves.
- Keep your horse from standing in mud for extended lengths of time.
- Provide biotin, a member of the vitamin B complex, daily over 5-6 months will improve integrity of the hoof.
- Provide methionine to improve horn development in particular tensile/elastic strength. Soy products and leguminosae family of plants contain methionin.
- Provide plant supplements that contain pectins that will improve tensile strength to the walls ie rosehips, sea buckthorn, fenugreek seed and marshmallow roots.
- Increase blood flow to laminae and hoof will improve growth rates. Gingko 3ml daily will help thin the blood and increase oxygen.
- Valerian is particularly suitable in combination with Devil’s Claw for mild cases of laminitis. Note: both these extracts make a good first aid standby. Valerian is an effective sedative to have on hand for those that are difficult to handle, shoe and/or have teeth done.
- If your horse is prone to hoof infections Echinacae will help protect the hoof and reduce the incidence of flare-ups.
DISCLAIMER: Hira Laboratories will not be held responsible for the use or misuse of any products listed. We recommend that either a qualified herbalist or your animal professional carry out diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Herbal remedies must not be given not be taken in conjunction with other medication with out consulting a medical professional.