How to Improve Horse Hoof Health
Your horse’s overall health is directly related to their hoof health. There are many natural things horse owners can do daily to support hoof health and avoid the cracking, pain, and inflammation that can decrease their quality of life.
Engage in Regular Inspections
In order to be able to treat hoof problems in their early stages, you must examine your horse’s hooves on a regular basis for the following:
- Chipping and cracking along the hoof wall
- Flaring of the hoof wall from the sole
- Hair growing abnormally or sticking up at the coronet
- Foul odor
- Black discharge with a pasty consistency in or near the frog
Feeling heat near the foot and an accompanying increase in heart rate are both signs of inflammation, as is a horse that seems to be shifting its weight more than normal.
Ensure Their Diet Is Balanced
The right foods will support the health of your horse from the inside out. After a visit with your vet to determine optimal ranges for their age and activity level, you’ll want to ensure your horse always gets high-quality hay and feed formulated for their nutritional requirements.
If your horse is still experiencing hoof problems after receiving good nutrition with a balanced diet, they may require the expertise of an equine nutritionist.
Care for Hooves Daily
Along with examination, daily hoof care in the form of picking and observation will go a long way to helping your horse stay healthy. As well, in caring for their hooves so frequently, you’ll become familiar with how they look and be able to spot any abnormalities quickly.
Schedule Regular Farrier Visits
No two horses are alike, and neither are their hooves. That’s why regular farrier visits are so important; they allow for a thorough inspection of your horse’s hooves, and the trimming needed to keep them in balance and shape.
When considering farrier schedules, keep in mind that the summer season often means faster growth of the hoof horn than in winter months.
Keep Hooves Dry
Even if they spend most of their time on dry ground, frequent washings can cause feet to become waterlogged and weak, making them vulnerable to bacteria.
Ensure that your horse’s hooves are exposed to moisture levels that are as balanced as possible. Extreme changes between wet and dry conditions can cause contraction and expansion of feet, which erodes hoof quality.
Ground Type and Activity Matters
The type of ground or floor that your horse spends their time on can make all the difference to their hoof health. Solid ground is best for outdoors. In the stable, choose a good stall mat, and cover it thinly with dry bedding.
Sufficient exercise is a cornerstone of healthy hooves because it increases circulation in them, along with all other areas. Your horse’s hooves need a steady blood supply in order to grow healthy new material.
The Best Supplements for Hoof Health
Ensuring that you’re implementing all of the suggestions above can definitely help to keep your horse healthy. The following supplements are yet another solution that you can add to your toolbox to support hoof health.
Apple Cider Vinegar
An old and effective healer, apple cider vinegar is probably best known as a balancer. It regulates pH in your horse’s body, which can prevent disease. It also helps restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system and eliminates stones and calcification.
However, ACV also has other powers, including those which benefit foot health. It improves circulation, which increases the vital blood supply hooves need for strength. Apple cider vinegar can be given in its liquid form, but if your horse doesn’t tolerate this well, ACV is also available in powder form, which can be added to feed for better uptake.
Bentonite clay has been used for its detoxifying properties for centuries. This particular supplement offers a wide range of benefits to your horse. It helps your horse grow new hoof material, eliminates chemicals from the body, and strengthens their immune system, to name a few.
Dry, cracked hooves can become very painful, making even walking impossible. Coconut oil contains plenty of vitamins C and E, along with fatty acids. All of these provide your horse’s feet with needed moisture. Coconut oil is also ideal for treating hoof wounds and abscesses.
This is a good-quality supplement for hoof strength, because glucosamine HCI contains the materials your horse needs to improve hoof growth. It can also reduce the inflammation that can make it painful to walk and exercise.
Well known as a superfood, kelp supports the health of horse hooves in many ways. It can be used to treat conditions like thrush and laminitis, and it also provides vitamins, amino acids, and trace minerals to optimize hoof health.
How Much, How Often?
In order for your horse to get the most benefit from supplements, they have to receive the right ones in the right amounts at the right times. This is where your vet comes in; they can recommend the best supplements and safest amounts for your horse, so always call your veterinarian before beginning any supplementation regimen.
Because we love horses too, Equi-Herbs is dedicated to providing 100% natural, high-quality equine supplements without added chemicals, fillers, or sugars. Browse our hoof support and other equine health products at our online store.