The Importance of Hoof Care

The Importance of Hoof Care

Maintaining Healthy Hooves 


We all probably know the saying, no hoof, no horse. The hoof is quite possibly one of the most important structures within the horse’s body this is why it is essential that we take care of our horse’s feet.


Apart from regular farriery care, diet is another important factor to consider when it comes to promoting and maintaining healthy hooves. Whilst farriery can maintain hoof health from the outside, it is important that we as owners are providing our horses with a diet that supports strong and healthy hooves from the inside.


The role of biotin in hoof care 

Biotin otherwise known as vitamin B7 plays numerous roles within the horse’s body. Biotin is quite possibly one of the most important vitamins for promoting hoof health. An average horse should consume around 20mg of biotin per day to support optimum hoof health. Thankfully, biotin naturally occurs in good quality grazing pastures and forages as well as several grains that can often be found in concentrate feeds, so a biotin deficiency is relatively uncommon in the UK.

Sources of biotin: 

Supplements: If your horse’s diet is however lacking in biotin or if they suffer from weak, cracking or brittle hooves, they may benefit from having supplementary biotin added to their diet. Pure biotin is readily available from many tack stores and feed merchants, and it can also be sourced online.

Brewers yeast: An excellent natural source of biotin that can be safely added to your horse’s diet. For this reason, it is possibly one of the most common ingredients found in hoof supplements.

Seaweed: Another excellent natural source of biotin and can be safely fed to horses. Of course we don’t recommend feeding fresh seaweed directly from the beach however dried seaweed that has been specially prepared for horses is widely available.


Risk from excess biotin 

There have been no reported cases of biotin toxicity in horses. As biotin is a water soluble vitamin, excess amounts will simply be excreted by the body so there is no real risk involved when it comes to providing supplementary biotin in the diet.


What is keratin and why it's important for hoof care  

Keratin is a tough, fibrous protein that is the main structural component in horse's hooves. Keratin plays a crucial role in providing strength, flexibility, and protection to the hoof.

Sources of keratin production 

High quality oils 

Essential fatty acids are essential keratin synthesis. Incorporating a high quality oil such as linseed oil which has an appropriate balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids is a great way to include healthy fats in the diet. If you don’t want to include oil in the diet, micronised linseed can be given as an alternative to linseed oil.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are another great natural option for promoting strong, healthy hooves as they contain an ideal balance of Omega Fatty acids as well as high quality proteins that works to support the production of keratin.


Preventing Laminitis

Laminitis, a metabolic condition affecting the sensitive structures within the hoof,  can be extremely painful and in some cases fatal. In order to minimise the risk of laminitis, it is important that the sugar and starch content of the diet is kept to a minimum. Ideally any feeds given should have a combined sugar and starch content no greater than 10% - this is especially important if your horse is at greater risk of developing laminitis. Ponies, Native breeds and overweight horses are all at greater risk of developing laminitis. Horses and ponies with Equine Metabolic Syndrome, a condition that affects the horse’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels are also more susceptible to developing laminitis.

Importance of a healthy microbiome 

Disturbances in the hind gut microbiome can also lead to the development of laminitis. The best way to keep the hind gut microbiome happy and healthy is to provide your horse with a fibre based diet. Ideally horses should consume no less than 1.5% of their body weight in forage daily. Whilst ad lib forage is great for horses, many owners will avoid this in fear of weight gain. If weight gain is a concern when feeding forage on an ad lib basis, owners can look into soaking hay prior to feeding as this will reduce the nutrient content. We don’t recommend soaking haylage however as this may speed up the fermentation process.


If you do have any concerns regarding your horse’s hoof health, we would definitely recommend consulting with your farrier or vet. They will be able to assess your horse’s hoof condition and make appropriate suggestions regarding the ongoing management and support. 

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