Hoof problems are a big concern to horse owners. And let’s be honest, your horse falls into one of two categories.

They are either constantly plagued with poor hoof quality – or you are the one wondering what all the fuss is about.

For the first group it is certainly possible that diet is a causative factor in this issue.

An average horse grows a completely new hoof in anything from 9-12 months. The toe naturally takes longer (9-12 months) and the heels less time (4-5 months)

The need for a good farrier here can not be understated. Get the balance wrong, get the shoe wrong, put the shoe on wrong and nothing you do will fix the problem.

SO, GIVEN THAT WE HAVE THIS IN HAND WHAT ARE THE COMMON PROBLEMS AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP SUPPORT OUR HORSES HOOF GROWTH?

Some Common Problems

  • Brittle feet
  • Flaking hoof
  • Painful or thin soles
  • Dry feet

Providing Optimal Hoof Support

Certain aspects of the hoof are primarily determined by genetics. The quality, conformation, shape and position fall into this category.

However, good stable management, the help of a skilled farrier and the correct diet can go a long way to supporting hoof quality. By feeding a balanced diet that contains all the necessary basics for good hoof quality, many issues can be prevented. Correct stable management includes adequate exercise, weight management, clean stable conditions and correct shoeing. Exercise stimulates and ensures good blood circulation in the hoof. Weight management is also important because overweight horses place a far greater burden on their hooves than horses within a healthy weight range. Clean stable conditions are also crucial to keeping hooves healthy. Although the hoof horn is resistant to the effects of most substances, dirty stables with accumulated urine can lead to high amounts of ammonia. This results in soft hoof tissues and weakened hooves.

Correct shoeing or trimming regularly will prevent cracking and flaking hooves. Any naturally occurring weak patches can be treated by a farrier by slightly correcting the position of the hoof or applying extra support where necessary.

The Impact of Diet on Hoof Quality

Since hooves keep growing at an average rate of one centimetre per month, we can influence the hoof quality at any time. This growth cannot be accelerated by giving supplements, however, the quality of the growing hoof can be significantly improved by providing a balanced diet, and supplements if necessary. As the hoof grows, it is important to provide a correct diet or use supplements over a longer period.

In addition to proteins and energy, certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and trace elements play an essential role in hoof development. If a horse is fed a correctly balanced diet that contains all these important nutrients, providing supplements should not be necessary. In cases where a horse is only given high quality feed in small amounts, or poor-quality feed, providing a supplement is recommended. Supplements can also be beneficial if hoof problems occur.

Important Nutrients for the Hooves

Proteins make up roughly 90% of the hoof with the most important protein being keratin. Keratin consists of various amino acids and it is these acids in particular that greatly influence hoof quality. The most important amino acids are those containing sulphur, such as cysteine and methionine. One of the effects of sulphur is the formation of a flexible and cushioning attachment between the cells in the hoof horn. Cysteine and methionine are essential amino acids, which are not produced by the body and must be provided in the diet.

In addition, there are many vitamins that are also important, such as vitamin H, more commonly known as biotin. However, a hoof cannot develop based on biotin alone. Research has revealed that providing only biotin fails to lead to the desired results. For best results, other vitamins, minerals and amino acids should also be given such as Vitamin A, E, D, K and various B complex vitamins. Vitamin A, for instance, is crucial to the development of the horn tissue and a deficiency in Vitamin A is associated with coronary band inflammation. Vitamins E, D, K and various B vitamins also contribute to the metabolism and hoof development.

In addition to vitamins, minerals such as Copper, Zinc, and Selenium are also essential for hoof quality. Copper influences the outer hoof wall, protects tissue membranes and is a key element in keratin formation. Zinc supports the formation and recovery of tissue cells in the hoof and hoof wall cells and assists with the synthesis of keratin. Selenium helps protect the cell membranes in the hoof, but an excess of this trace element can cause problems. An overdose of selenium can even be harmful and toxic, so selenium supplements should be used carefully. Lastly, oil and fats containing fatty acids also play a role by forming a barrier to bacteria and mould. This protects the hoof horn and creates greater elasticity in the hoof.

Overall, there are a host of different nutrients that influence hoof quality. It is vital that the horse’s diet contains all these nutrients in correct, balanced quantities. Adding one nutrient alone, such as biotin, to an unbalanced diet will never give optimal results

So why feed a Cavalor Hoof Supplement.

A horse needs at least 30mg of Biotin per day to influence hoof growth. But Biotin alone is not enough because hoof is 90% protein. So quality products must include the sulfur containing building block that are required to make Keratine. MSM, methionine and cysteine.

We also include extra amino acids like lysine.

Yeast is also in our hoof products as it is a source of good absorbable Selenium, protein and B vitamins. B vitamins play an important role in the quality of the keratine produced in the body.

Calcium has a high impact on the white border of the hoof.

Copper and zinc are important building blocks for high quality hoof wall.

We also add several vitamins including

Vitamins C, A and D3

Vitamin C is an important anti oxidant

Vitamin A contributes to the development of the hoof wall. Vitamin A deficiency is linked to coronary band inflammation.

Vitamin D3 also plays an important role in the metabolism and development of hoof tissue.

Below is a comparison of some products on the market and some comments on them. Many contain limited additional ingredients or in forms that are not so readily absorbable.

ProductBiotin / dayBiotin / Kg
Cavalor Hoof Aid Special75 mg500 mg
Hoof Aid45 mg1500 mg
Farriers Formula20 mg118 mg
NAF Profeet23 mg713 mg
Hoof First40 mg1600 mg