For anyone who has woken up on the morning of a big event to find their horse is suddenly lame due to a hoof-related ailment, you know the saying couldn’t be truer.
The equine hoof covers and protects a horse’s bones, tendons, ligaments, fibro-fatty, and fibro-cartilaginous tissues, making it arguably the most vital part of your horse’s body. If a horse’s hoof becomes damaged, it increases the risk of secondary leg and body injury too.
Luckily for horse owners, there are many ways to keep your horses’ hooves in top shape and to help prevent and treat common hoof health-related issues.
Daily Factors that Impact Equine Hoof Health
Hooves, when healthy and well-maintained, should have a shiny outer layer. However, many horses’ feet become dull and brittle and not waxy and shiny like they should be. When a horse’s feet do not have a solid, waxy outer layer, they are more prone to being negatively impacted by moisture and weather changes.
Frequent bathing, and the use of shampoo detergents, break down natural oils in the hoof and can compound the problem. Hooves can get too soft, too brittle, or shelly, which can lead to problems with securing nails in the hoof wall, and in turn, the higher likelihood that your horse will not only throw a shoe, but then have to be reshod, introduce more nail holes to the hoof, and further weaken its integrity.
Some breeds, such as the Thoroughbred, have a much more genetically refined make-up than other breeds which can lead to thinner bones, hoof walls, and soles. This can make it more difficult to maintain a strong, healthy hoof.
Biotin, Fatty Acids, & More: Ingredients That Support Equine Hoof Health
One of the easiest, albeit sometimes overlooked, ways to help keep your horses’ hooves strong is by feeding supplements that support overall hoof health.
Biotin is a proven ingredient that helps increase hoof wall growth and quality. Studies have shown having adequate levels of biotin in a horse’s diet will support strong hooves and could even help repair brittle or cracking hooves. The more often a horse can replace and grow out a hoof, the healthier the hoof will be.
Biotin is one of the most important ingredients found in Finish Line’s Feet First® Coat 2nd supplement. Along with Biotin, Feet First Coat 2nd also contains flaxseed, natural essential fatty acids, methionine, zinc, vitamins A, E, C, and other essential ingredients for hoof health.
While many hoof supplements contain biotin and other similar hoof health ingredients, Feet First Coat 2nd is unique because it also contains fatty acids which are typically missing in other products.
Many of the ingredients in Feet First Coat 2nd, such as the fatty acids mentioned above, are not only helpful for keeping a horse’s hooves strong and healthy but have the added benefit of helping with overall healthy skin and coat.
An easy way to be sure your horse is not only getting a supplement to support hoof health but also a wide variety of other essential vitamins and nutrients they need to perform their best, is by adding a multi-purpose daily supplement, like Total Control®, to your horse’s health regime.
Not only does Total Control® contain the full daily dose of Feet First® Coat 2nd, but it also combines the full doses of Finish Line’s four other best-selling products: Apple-A-Day™ electrolytes, Iron Power® for healthy blood counts, Fluid Action® HA for joint support, and U-7™ Gastric Aid.
Identifying and Treating Hoof Ailments
Despite best efforts, horses can sometimes end up with a hoof injury or ailments anyway.
Abscesses are one of the most common and easily treatable hoof ailments. Abscesses typically occur from a puncture wound, cracked hoof, or a misplaced hoof nail. This causes a pocket of pus to form inside the hoof, and they are typically very uncomfortable at minimum for the horse until they are drained, treated, and healed.
Stone bruises, also known as sole bruises, are another common occurrence. As the name suggests, they typically occur when a horse steps on a rock or hard surface with the softer part of their sole. It can be weeks or even months before the bruise is visible, but a horse will appear foot sore or lame much sooner. When the sole of the horse’s foot is softer during certain times of the year, especially in areas where it’s especially rainy, it can make it even easier for a horse to get sole bruises. An untreated sole bruise can even lead to the hoof abscessing.
Easypack™ is Finish Line’s hoof packing product that contains ingredients like tea tree oil, lemon balm, and other essential oils that promote a healthy frog, sole, and hoof overall. Easypack also aids in the relief of hoof soreness and is effective for stinging feet, stone bruising, heat, and many other minor hoof problems.
While some products can cause blistering or are hard to wash off, Easypack will not blister and washes off easily with warm water. It’s not only handy for sore feet, but it can also be used on abscesses, making it a staple to have on hand in the barn.
While it’s mainly looked at as a sweat and salve wound ointment, Finish Line’s Fura-Free™, which is nitrofurazone-free, is another handy do-it-all type product that can also be used on a horse’s cracked heels.
Under Pressure: Appreciating Horse Hooves
A horse’s hoof hits the ground with extreme pressure.
Even when considering the more refined makeup of certain breeds, it’s incredible how properly maintained hooves can do amazing things. When a racehorse gallops and a single foot is loaded, there can be up to 10,000 pounds of pressure on a hoof that is smaller than the average human foot.
So, let’s appreciate and care for our horses’ hooves! They’re the very foundation of your horse’s health, after all.