We ask an awful lot of an animal who walks on his middle toenails. Humans have recognised for centuries that the foundation of a horse’s soundness lies in his hooves. At the risk of sounding repetitive, “no hoof, no horse” is a basic, but effective statement on the importance of good quality hooves. Often, hoof care is an overlooked strategy for reducing the risk of arthritis and damage to other leg structures. Remember, injury or malfunction of any part of the locomotor apparatus will negatively impact performance. Not to mention the extreme forces exerted by a 500kg animal on four rather small and specialised bits of keratin.
It may seem obvious, but regular and correct farrier care is essential for the maintenance of healthy, balanced hooves. There are several other factors that can affect hoof quality including genetics, nutrition, environmental conditions, injury and illness. So, apart from regular visits from the farrier, what else can owners do to care for their horse’s hooves?
Feeding the feet
For optimal hoof health, the horse must have a positive energy balance (calories exceed those required for maintenance of body weight) and a well-balanced diet that provides nutrients required for health and well-being, which in turn will fuel sound hoof growth (i.e. high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals). However, despite receiving a nutritionally balanced diet some horses may still have dry, brittle hooves. In this situation, the horse may benefit from additional supplementation to improve hoof strength and integrity.
Biotin is a B vitamin essential for many functions in a horse’s body, including metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, cell proliferation, normal thyroid and adrenal gland function, reproductive tract health, and nervous system stability. Biotin contains sulphur, an element required for the formation of the reinforcing bonds between strands of collagen, and therefore plays a role in maintaining the health of the skin and hooves.
Kelato’s BiotinMAX CONCENTRATEis an ultra-concentrated biotin supplement to support horses with poor hoof quality. BiotinMAX CONCENTRATE supplies biotin at levels shown by scientific studies to improve hoof strength and integrity. Researchers have found normal blood levels of biotin in horses with poor quality hoof horns, so unhealthy hooves are not a result of deficiency. However, despite normal blood levels horses responded to megadoses of biotin given orally. Research has indicated that supplementation with 20mg of biotin per day for at least nine months decreased the incidence of hoof cracks, less crumbling of the hoof horn, and greater tensile strength. Remember, you can only try to encourage better growth from the coronary band down and BiotinMAX CONCENTRATE will help to improve the growth of the new hoof horn, not the existing hoof.
Dressing the feet
Since hoof quality can also be affected by environmental conditions, horses may also benefit from a topical hoof dressing. During the hot, dry conditions of summer, the hoof has the task of cushioning the impact of a moving 500kg horse. A combination of hard, unyielding surfaces and brittle hooves provides a recipe for hoof damage and potential lameness. Hooves that are not maintained properly can dry out and lose flexibility, as well as become prone to conditions such as contracted heels, navicular syndrome (continual impact of the toe on hard surfaces) and sand cracks. Autumn and winter are arguably the harshest times of the year for many reasons – temperature variations, wet weather, muddy conditions, less sunlight, and no time. We all know the hassles of living in cold, wet weather. While we tend to focus on protecting our horses’ bodies with multiple layers of rugs, the hooves bear the brunt of harsh winter conditions. The hooves may absorb more water and become soft/pliable. This provides an opportunity for organisms to break through the protective barrier of the hoof wall and result in infection.
Kelato’s HoofPRIME is a dressing formulated to penetrate the hoof wall and provide nourishment to the inner and outer structures of the hoof wall. The oils act as a water barrier to help reduce the chance of the hoof absorbing too much water during wet conditions, as well as maintaining strength and flexibility for shock absorption from hard ground during dry conditions. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of HoofPRIME also help to reduce the risk of infection. HoofPRIME only needs to be applied every second day – cut your costs and time in half!
For more information, head to the BiotinMAX Concentrate and HoofPRIME pages, get in touch on 1800 KELATO or email [email protected]. Article courtesy of Kelato.