Recommended Treatment for Thrush

Hoof with Thrush

Thrush is often associated with wet and muddy conditions. When conditions are wet and muddy it can be difficult to properly clean out debris around the frog on a regular basis. The rapidly accumulating debris blocks oxygen to the hoof. Thrush results from the invasion of anaerobic microbes that thrive in environments absent of oxygen. If the hoof is not routinely picked and cleaned, oxygen is sealed away from the tissues around the frog thereby providing the anaerobic bacteria with the perfect environment to thrive.

Thrush can be mild or can progress quickly to a severe case. In the more severe cases, the bacteria have penetrated and infected the sensitive tissues of the hoof. The horse often becomes foot-sore and lame.  Mild cases of Thrush can usually be treated with proper management and regular applications of Life Data® Hoof Clay®. The more severe cases may require additional assistance from a farrier or veterinarian.

In treating Thrush we need to be mindful of the products we choose. As mentioned in a previous blog many horse owners will turn to home remedies, but there are several of these you should avoid. Products containing formalin (formaldehyde), copper sulfate, pine tar, iodine crystals, and solvents such as acetone and turpentine are caustic and can chemically burn and damage healthy hoof tissue. If the horse has a severe case of Thrush where sensitive tissue has been affected, the caustic chemicals may cause discomfort. The horse often learns the treatment is painful and may refuse to allow lifting of the foot for treatment. Petroleum based and greasy products which block oxygen should also be avoided.

While treating and preventing Thrush, we recommend Life Data® Hoof Clay® and a regular routine of trimming, cleaning, and maintaining hooves.

So, why do we recommend Life Data® Hoof Clay® in the treatment of Thrush?

  1. Non-Caustic

Life Data® Hoof Clay® is a mild and non-caustic product. Life Data® Hoof Clay® does not contain any chemicals that will burn or harm sensitive or live tissue. In fact, Life Data® Hoof Clay® is so mild that the horse owner can apply it with their bare hands.

  1. Ease of Use

Life Data® Hoof Clay® is easy to use and easy to apply. As mentioned above, due to its non-caustic nature, the Hoof Clay® can be applied with your bare hands. No special tools are required. The texture of the product is pliable, making the product easy to remove from the container for a smooth and even application.

  1. Sticks to the Surface of the Hoof

Regardless if it is the sole of the hoof or the hoof wall, Life Data® Hoof Clay® is designed to stay in place. This is particularly important in the treatment and prevention of Thrush, White Line Disease, and other hoof related issues. By sticking and staying in place, the product can deliver antimicrobials to the problem areas and protect from outside foreign material.

Hoof Clay for Thrush

  1. Stays in Place

Due to its sticky nature, Life Data® Hoof Clay® will stay in place for several days. Even after three or four days, the residual Hoof Clay® will remain effective. Life Data® Hoof Clay® will derive the best results and last longest when used on a hoof that has been cleaned and thoroughly dried prior to application. It is also recommended that the horse is kept in a dry area for thirty minutes before returning to a wet pasture. Farrier’s Finish® can also be applied on top of the Life Data® Hoof Clay® to help repel water and assist in protecting the hoof.

  1. Economical

Many products that boast Thrush treatment and prevention also come with a higher price tag. Life Data® Hoof Clay® is economical. Especially when looking at the price compared to how long it lasts. Even the smallest 10 oz. jar can last a horse owner several weeks depending on how often and how much of the product is used.

  1. Effective Active Ingredients

Life Data® Hoof Clay® contains tea tree oil, tamed iodine, and yucca. These ingredients are highly effective in the defense and control of bacteria; including the bacteria that lead to Thrush.

  1. A Great Team Player

Life Data® Hoof Clay® can be safely used in combination with Farrier’s Finish® and Farrier’s Formula®. Using Life Data® Hoof Clay® and Farrier’s Finish® together is a great combination in protecting the outside hoof from environmental factors. Feeding Farrier’s Formula® helps improve the internal health and quality of the hoof. By using all three together, you are essentially providing the necessary nutrition and protection needed to develop the best possible hoof for your horse.

It is always important to consult with your farrier and veterinarian before treating any kind of hoof related issue. If you have any questions regarding Thrush or Life Data® products, feel free to contact us at 1-800-624-1873. You may also visit our website to learn more about Life Data® Hoof Clay®.

Laminitis & Founder

Laminitis & Founder eBook

The 2nd edition of “Laminitis & Founder” is now available as an eBook download on our website. The book discusses the prevention and treatment of laminitis & founder for the greatest chance of success. Below is a small excerpt from the book:

 

 

 

The foot must be understood before effective treatments will be adopted.

Once there is a more thorough understanding of the anatomy of the foot and the sequence of events in the disease process, effective treatments for laminitis will be adopted. Ineffective fads or unproven treatments will then be discarded because of inconsistent results that also can be dangerous to the health of the horse.

For instance, giving a horse phenylbutazone (Bute) so that it continues to stand and walk on the injured laminar and solar tissues is contraindicated (not advisable). Also, vasodilators will not open crushed blood vessels. Vasodilators will cause the vascular muscle walls to relax and the vessels will actually leak more fluid into the interstitial space to further crush them. Giving a horse anti-histamine and vasoconstrictor drugs is more logical.

Another example: Standing a horse in sand, on foam blocks or putting on a “sole pack” to support the bone is not advisable. If you understand the blood supply of the foot, you will readily see that the sensitive sole will be further damaged by having the horse stand with pressure on the sole. However, transferring weight from the damaged sensitive laminae to the frog using a heart bar shoe is recommended, as there is much less circulation in the tissues under the frog than in those under the sole.

A farrier with knowledge of laminitis and the anatomy of the foot understands how to make and fit a heart bar shoe. A veterinarian with knowledge of anatomy and circulation of the foot will understand not to give pain relievers if this encourages the laminitic horse to remain standing and produce further damage to the internal structures of the foot by compromising circulation to the coffin bone (The Principles of Horseshoeing – P3). When this happens, you may swap a few hours of pain relief for a lifetime of lameness and pain.

This is a difficult decision because of the veterinarian’s emotional and professional responsibility to relieve pain. However, the most effective pain relief is for the horse to lie down in deep bedding. This not only avoids the side effects of pain relief medications, but also facilitates the application of cold packs.

Trust yourself to learn and understand what is best for your unique horse. You have the responsibility to choose the best possible care and make crucial informed decisions for your horse(s) — use it wisely. The informed horse owner can help make decisions with trusted professionals to provide the horse with the greatest chance of getting well.

To download the eBook, visit our website and complete the required form. Once submitted, you will receive an e-mail containing downloadable links to the e-book. Please check your spam and junk folders if you do not receive the e-mail. Contact us at 1-800-624-1873 if you have any questions.

Download the “Laminitis & Founder” eBook

Nutrition’s Role in White Line Disease Prevention

Equine Nutrition and White Line Disease
Properly balanced nutrition and quality hoof supplements strengthen and increase the density of the hoof wall, reducing the likelihood or severity of White Line Disease.

Burney Chapman, a world-renowned farrier from Lubbock, Texas, became one of the foremost authorities on White Line Disease back in the late eighties and early nineties. At that time, he began to see an alarming increase in the numbers of white line cases he encountered in his shoeing practice both in the U.S. and U.K. Burney determined that it was not a disease of the white line, but rather the result of a fungal invasion of the middle hoof wall. Burney named the condition “Onychomycosis”, or ONC. The disease is also known as Stall Rot, Seedy Toe, Hollow Foot and Wall Thrush. At first blush almost everyone, including Burney, thought White Line Disease was found in environments that were poorly maintained. However, the more he encountered it, he began to realize the disease occurred more often in clean, well-managed stables and barns. He also observed that there was no correlation to breed, color, or front versus back feet; and that the initial stages were non-painful and usually detected by the farrier during routine hoof care.

Today, we know a bit more about White Line Disease and recognize that all horses are exposed. The medial (middle) hoof wall is the structure affected. The damage is caused by organisms commonly found in the environment, both bacterial and fungal. These organisms require a nutrient-rich environment that is lacking oxygen to flourish. The outer hoof wall is more resistant to invasion due to its higher density and exposure to environmental oxygen compared to the low density and lack of oxygen in the middle hoof wall. The third section of hoof wall, the inner hoof wall, is more resistant to invasion due to the proximity of live tissue in this area. The live tissue is not only oxygen rich, thereby inhibiting these opportunist anaerobic organisms, but also has infection fighting abilities.

Due to this, many horse owners approach White Line Disease as an external battle, but White Line Disease prevention begins with internally healthy hooves. For example, picture a castle protected by a strong exterior wall. If the people inside are healthy and thriving, the outside wall can be maintained and kept strong from outside invaders. If the castle is unable to maintain the wall, over time the outside wall will begin to deteriorate, weaken, and crumble; making it easier for outside invaders to penetrate. We can take this same example and apply it to our horse’s hooves. If we are not properly providing for the hoof internally, the outside integrity of the hoof will reflect the same. As the external protection begins to deteriorate, the hoof becomes less resilient to infections such as White Line Disease. Maintaining a healthy hoof internally begins with proper nutrition.

Proper nutrition and hoof quality are directly correlated. In fact, poor hoof quality is one of the first signs of poor nutrition. Developing a balanced diet and feeding a quality hoof supplement can provide the nutrients needed to support stronger and healthier hooves. It may also help promote regrowth and recovery for hooves suffering or damaged from white line disease.

Feeding your horse an unbalanced diet can have the reverse effect. For example, as mentioned in previous articles, excessive selenium supplementation and excessive bran in the horse’s diet are nutritional factors that can increase the risk of White Line Disease or other hoof related issues.

Although proper nutrition alone may not resolve White Line Disease, it is a vital step in building more resilient, stronger and healthier hooves. Protecting hooves externally utilizing a non-caustic topical product while also providing a quality hoof supplement is the most effective way to prevent and treat White Line Disease. Consult with your veterinarian and farrier if your horse is suffering from White Line Disease. If you have any questions, feel free to visit our website or contact us at 1-800-624-1873 or cservice@lifedatalabs.com.

Learn More About White Line Disease 

Learn More About Feeding for Hoof Health.

Overly Dry Hooves

Dry Hooves

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of summer? Lemonade stands? Swimming or summer vacations? Sunscreen or the intense heat? Maybe it is something else entirely. Here at Life Data® the first thing that comes to mind is dry hooves. Although the idea of a “dry hoof” is usually positive, there is a point where dry can become too dry. During the summer, we see a rise in dry hooves due to moisture imbalance resulting from environmental conditions that are too hot and dry.  In this blog, we discuss the problems that can develop with overly dry hooves, and methods to maintain moisture balance.

Consider your own skin. When our skin becomes excessively dry it can begin to flake, crack, or even split. Our skin loses elasticity and weakens. The same occurs to a horse’s hoof. When hooves become excessively dry they lose integrity. Once the hoof integrity begins to deteriorate, several other issues can develop.

 Hoof Quality and Structure

  • Low moisture balance in the hooves can lead to loss of elasticity and a brittle hoof that is more likely to crack, chip, split and crumble. The compromised hoof quality can impede your horse’s ability to work, train, or hold a shoe.

Bacterial and Fungal Infections

  • Your horse’s external hoof wall acts as a barrier against the germ-laden environment. Cracks and chips create a passage way for bacteria to enter the hoof capsule. This presents an opportunity for “hoof-eating” microbes to gain access to the nutrient-rich middle hoof wall. These organisms multiply and further weaken the hoof wall, leading to additional defects and a collapsing hoof horn. Microbial invasions also promote hoof wall separations and the development of White Line Disease.

Maintaining moisture balance is the main objective when attempting to prevent overly dry hooves. Unfortunately, adding moisture to the environment won’t necessarily solve the problem. Just like human skin and nails, your horse’s hooves are composed of dermal tissue. This tissue contains phospholipids that control moisture balance within the hoof. These phospholipids can become overwhelmed in environments that are excessively wet or dry. In other words, rapid changes in moisture from wet to dry can adversely affect the integrity of the hoof. Frequent bathing, pop-up thunderstorms and soaking hooves can all negatively impact the hoof during the summer, especially if the hoof is not properly cleaned and dried afterward. The best way to maintain moisture balance within the hoof is to assist the phospholipids in doing their job. You can do that two ways:

1. Keep Moisture changes to a minimum

  • Restrict your horse’s exposure to excess moisture.
  • Keep your horse in a clean and dry environment.

2. Use a proven hoof conditioner regularly

  • Regularly apply a hoof conditioner that contains phospholipids to promote correct moisture balance.
  • Ensure the conditioner does not contain harmful ingredients and does not block oxygen.
  • A hoof conditioner with antimicrobial properties may help control cracks and crumbling horn.

3. Phospholipid supplementation

  • Feeding a hoof supplement that contains fatty acids and phospholipids will help assist the hoof in regulating moisture balance.
  • Other nutrients provided in the hoof supplement such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals will help build a stronger and healthier hoof that is less prone to crack, chip, split, and crumble.

Moisture balance is a key factor in controlling the environmental conditions that will affect overall hoof health. If not controlled, your horse can develop several issues that will negatively impact its hooves. Maintaining a regular farrier schedule and feeding a quality hoof supplement also assist in managing healthy hooves. Consult your farrier and veterinarian if you have any questions. You may also call us at 1-800-624-1873.

Suggested Hoof Topical for moisture control: Farrier’s Finish®

Suggested Hoof Supplement: Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength

Download Our Life Data® Hoof Care Booklet

Understanding the Horse’s Digestive System

Horse Digestion

Whether it is an animal, plant or other living organism, all living things must have a genetic code and chemical process to maintain life. All living organisms have nutrient requirements that are basically the same at the metabolic level. The difference is how these requirements are absorbed to provide nutrients and energy to live. For example, plants can manufacture the nutrients and energy they need by staying in one place. They can do this by using the energy from sunlight, along with water, oxygen and nutrients from the soil. In essence, they are self-sufficient.  Unlike animal life, plants do not depend on other living things to survive except for the soil microbiome at their roots.

Although horses belong to the same animal class as humans and other mammals, they are metabolically smarter than most other mammals. The nutrient requirements between horses and other mammals are the same at the metabolic level; however the horse’s ability to manufacture nutrients is far more advanced. Humans, for example, must obtain most nutrients they need directly from what they consume. The food and nutrients are delivered to the digestive tract, broken down, and provided to the rest of the body. A horse’s digestion process is much more complex than this. This is in large part due to the hindgut (including cecum and large intestine) of the horse.

The cecum is a large organ within the digestive tract that houses microorganisms. These microorganisms break down the fiber and cellulose the horse consumes and converts the cellulose into additional nutrients and energy that the horse needs to survive. So unlike humans and other monogastric mammals which eat and drink to consume nutrients that are ultimately absorbed, horses not only eat and drink to absorb nutrients but also to feed the microorganism factory within their cecum.

To simplify this process, we can think of the cecum as a “garden” for the horse. This garden enables horses to be mobile in order to consume the nutrients they need. Horses fertilize the garden with the energy and nutrients needed to thrive by providing it with the cellulose of the plants consumed. The garden then produces the “fruits”, or additional nutrients, the horse requires.

Before the domestication of horses they were naturally roamers. They would roam, graze, and find the proper nutrition they needed to fully provide for the hindgut microorganisms. Today, we have restricted the horse’s ability to do this by enclosing them in pastures, paddocks, and barns. We have also increased their natural calorie needs by demanding more of them through riding, training, athletics, and work. Modern feeding practices have altered the natural diet of the horse.  Many complete feeds contain excess fats and sugars (molasses), and are also fortified with additional nutrients. This “all-in-one” concept tethers calories and nutrients together; therefore hard keepers and working horses must consume large amounts of the fortified feed to maintain body weight. This often results in over-supplementation of nutrients, and a diet too rich in fats and carbohydrates. On the other hand, easy keepers are often under-supplemented using this method of feeding. Also note that horses do not have gallbladders. Without a gallbladder the horse is unable to break down and digest the excess fat in many of the modern complete feeds, leading to diarrhea, gas and digestive upset.

Chewing is instrumental to the horse’s digestion because the grinding serves two purposes, to grind the feed down to small particles and to generate salivation. In a horse, salivation is not initiated from smell or taste, but by the physical action of grinding the teeth. For proper digestion and utilization by the hindgut microbes the feedstuffs must be properly chewed and ground down into fine particles. For the horse to achieve suitable grinding dental health must be maintained with proper floating. “Over floating” the teeth will inhibit the horse’s ability to grind. The teeth must have rough opposing surfaces for the horse to be capable of proper grinding – if the teeth are too smooth it would be like trying to grind feedstuffs between two pieces of glass.

The horse’s salivation is also important because it coats and moisturizes the food particles in digestive enzymes to kick start the digestive process and help deliver the particles to the GI tract. Most compound and textured feeds that we are using to replace the natural diet of the horse are “pre-chewed”, meaning that the feed has been ground already. The reduced chewing time restricts the amount of salivation, thus interfering with and bypassing an important part of the horse’s digestion.

Horse Eating

If you do not properly care and provide for your garden at home it will not produce healthy fruit, but only weeds and grass. The same goes for your horse. If you do not feed your horse naturally, the garden within your horse will not provide the proper nutrition your horse needs. This can create health issues for your horse. But, like your garden at home, these weeds can be picked. It is never too late to provide your horse with a natural diet. Remove the fatty foods, the complete feeds, and provide your horse with the diet nature intended it to have. Natural grazing and feeding hay will provide the horse with most of the calories and nutrients the horse needs. Any additional calories needed to maintain body condition should be separated from any additional nutrient intake.  If additional calories are needed, oats, beet pulp, or copra can be fed to meet these increased demands. Proper supplementation with a hay and pasture balancer is also important to replace the nutrients the horse may not be finding in the modern restrained lifestyle. If you have any questions regarding your horse’s diet contact your veterinarian or feel free to contact us at 1-800-624-1873.

Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS

Scott Gravlee, DVM, CNS

Life Data Labs, Inc.

Makers of Farrier’s Formula® and Barn Bag® Pasture and Hay Balancer

www.lifedatalabs.com

The Relationship Between Hoof Quality and Recurring Hoof Abscesses

Horse lying down

Hoof Abscesses can seem to appear overnight. Yesterday your horse showed no sign of pain, and today he can barely put weight on his foot. If you have never had a horse develop a hoof abscess, count yourself lucky. They can be extremely painful, often leading to severe lameness. Some horses suffer from recurring hoof abscesses that develop frequently.  Although hoof abscesses can be attributed to either the horse’s environment or the health of the hooves, they are often the consequence of a combination of both factors.

The environment is one of the first things that should be looked at if your horse is suffering from regular hoof abscesses. Bacteria can enter the hoof through a sole puncture wound or bruise, a hoof wall crack, an old nail hole, a white line separation, or from nailing a shoe.

A sole abscess is usually the result of a puncture wound from a nail or other foreign object. Bruising of the sole can also predispose the hoof to a sole abscess. Sole abscesses are common and usually break out at the sole surface. Occasionally the abscess will track under the surface of the sole and break out in another area of the sole.

Hoof wall abscesses often develop from foreign material, such as a small pebble, that enters at the white line area and migrates upward through the laminae. Small stones, sand, or gravel can also penetrate through hoof defects such as hoof cracks, crumbling hoof wall, or old nail holes and carry infection. The resulting abscess is often referred to as “gravels” or “gravelling”. The infection created by the migrating pebble will often break out at the coronary band, and with luck the abscess fluid will push out the foreign object.

Prior to opening and/or draining of a hoof abscess, the associated inflammation and fluid is trapped within the rigid confines of the hoof capsule. Intense pain occurs from the building pressure on the sensitive tissues. The pain often leads to reluctance or refusal to bear weight on the affected foot. The affected foot will often feel warmer than usual.

The incidence of hoof abscesses increase when the environment is wet and muddy. Wet conditions and unclean stalls are breeding grounds for bacteria that can create hoof abscesses. Also, the excess moisture will soften the hoof wall and sole making it easier for the bacteria and/or foreign material to penetrate into the hoof capsule.

Look at the environment surrounding your horse. Does your horse spend a lot of time in wet and muddy conditions? Are your regularly cleaning stalls? Does your horse walk on rocky pastures or gravel roads? Reducing your horse’s exposure to these kinds of environments can help reduce the chances of a hoof abscess developing. There are also preventive measures you can take to help protect against these environmental conditions.

  • Regularly clean and maintain your horse’s hooves daily. Remove any foreign material from the sole and around the frog.
  • Feed Farrier’s Formula® on a long-term basis to provide nutrients important for the horse’s immune system and to build a denser hoof wall and sole, increasing the hoof’s resistance to infection.
  • Apply Life Data® Hoof Clay®, a non-caustic antimicrobial packing, to fill in hoof wall cracks, wall defects and old nail holes. If barefoot, apply the clay directly to the white line to block foreign material and bacteria from penetrating.
    • Do not use cotton balls to pack hoof defects or open abscess tracts. Cotton balls leave fibers when removed. These left-over fibers can lead to infection.
    • Do not pack or wrap the hoof with any material that will block oxygen.
  • Apply Farrier’s Finish®, a topical hoof disinfectant and conditioner, to kill bacteria and regulate moisture balance.
    • In wet conditions, add two tablespoons Epson Salt per 16 oz. bottle of Farrier’s Finish® and apply to the hoof wall and sole surface. The product will not only disinfect the hoof capsule, but will also help harden the softened hoof wall and sole to increase the hoof capsule’s resistance to microbial invasion.
    • Ensure the hoof topical is non-caustic. Using caustic materials such as turpentine or formaldehyde can block oxygen and damage healthy tissue.
  • Maintain a regular farrier schedule and ensure hooves are being trimmed properly. Too much time between trimmings will allow the toe to grow out excessively thereby stretching or separating the white line. A separated white line predisposes the horse to gravels.
  • Maintain a proper body weight. The extra weight of an obese horse can place stress on the hooves, stretching the white line and “pancaking” the hoof wall. This weakens the hoof structurally and makes it vulnerable to microbes and foreign material. If your horse is overweight and suffers from recurring hoof abscesses, getting the weight under control could be the first step in the right direction.


[Bob Hill’s horse “Bo” suffered from frequent hoof abscesses. Using a combination of Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength and Barn Bag®, Bob was able to improve Bo’s hoof quality, reduce his weight, and stop the hoof abscesses. You can listen to his full testimonial here.]

There are many factors that affect hoof quality. Genetics, the environment, and nutrition all play major roles. We have already discussed methods you can utilize to protect the hoof from environmental factors that cause hoof abscesses; however proper nutrition also plays an important role in helping prevent hoof abscesses.

A healthy hoof has a denser hoof wall and sole, and is more resilient to microbial invasion and infection. Also the healthier hoof will have less hoof cracks, splits, and other hoof defects for foreign material to enter through. Feeding Farrier’s Formula® can improve hoof health and increase the resilience to these invasions both structurally and by improving immunity. Farrier’s Formula® contains ingredients such as zinc and vitamin C that support the horse’s immune system.

Consult your farrier and/or veterinarian on treatment if you suspect an abscess. Your farrier or veterinarian will work to draw out the hoof abscess with a poultice or to open and drain the abscess. In the case of a gravel, if any foreign material remains within the hoof wall either the abscess will not resolve or it reoccurs on a regular basis. Foreign objects trapped under the hoof wall will usually require a procedure to open up the hoof wall directly over the gravel.

It is also important to protect and disinfect the exit wound. Once the drainage has stopped, packing with Life Data® Hoof Clay® and regularly applying Farrier’s Finish® will help protect the open wound and keep out any unwanted material.

If you have any questions on utilizing Life Data® products to help treat or prevent hoof abscesses, feel free to contact us at 1-800-624-1873 or by e-mailing us at cservice@lifedatalabs.com.


Learn More About Life Data® Products

Read Our Last Blog, “Hoof Health Takes Patience” 

Hoof Health Takes Patience

Hoof Health and CareThere is one important fact to remember when it comes to growing a healthy hoof, it takes patience. Hoof health is a long-term commitment and takes time to develop. It can take up to a year for the average horse to completely regrow a hoof. Depending on the age of the horse and the severity of the hoof’s condition, it could take even longer. There are other factors that can affect the health of the hoof and, although there are a few factors we cannot change such as genetics, there are factors we can address. If we are willing to put in the time and effort, we can develop the best hoof genetics will allow.

Nutrition is one of the biggest factors that will affect the health of your horse’s hooves, but this will take time and patience. Changing your horse’s diet will not fix the issue in just a few days. Adding a hoof supplement, such as Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength, to your horse’s diet is one of the easiest ways to provide your horse with the nutrition it needs to grow a healthy hoof. By providing the proper nutrients, you are building the hoof from the inside out. This process can make a world of difference for your horse’s hooves by improving the hoof internally and promoting hoof wall thickness and strength. But this isn’t a short-term fix. We are not preparing for a race, we are preparing for a marathon. Adding Farrier’s Formula® to your horse’s diet is a long-term investment. For many horses it will be a life-long investment.

Click Here Learn More About Farrier’s Formula®

As we said above, you are providing for the hoof from the inside out, which means you may not visually see results right away. This is where your patience comes into place. If you are not regularly feeding Farrier’s Formula® or are stopping and switching supplements every few weeks you will not receive the same results. Be patient, give the nutrients time to build up in the horse’s system and work from within the horse. When regularly feeding Farrier’s Formula®, it could take up to eight weeks before you begin seeing new hoof growth around the coronary band. In fact, many of our customers have even reported seeing a healthier hair coat before ever seeing new hoof growth. Once Farrier’s Formula® has had time to build up and provide the important nutrients your horse needs, it will then promote better quality and faster growing hooves.

Nutrition is only one aspect of hoof growth and quality, and we cannot discuss nutrition without also addressing the environment. Where nutrition plays a key role on the inside health of the hoof, the environment plays a role on the outside. If you’re not protecting the hoof from the outside environment, you are not protecting the investment you’ve made internally. Even with proper nutrition and supplementation, the environment can wreak havoc on your horse’s hooves and destroy any new growth your horse has made. Regular farrier work, clean stalls and proper nutrition can help prevent many of these environmental issues from developing, but they do not always stop it.

Regularly applying Farrier’s Finish® Hoof Disinfectant and Conditioner to the outside of the hooves will protect the investment you have made with Farrier’s Formula®. Farrier’s Finish® will protect new growth from the environment by helping control microbial invasions, regulating moisture in the hoof capsule, and addressing other environmental problems. For example, Farrier’s Finish® contains yucca extract, which is beneficial to horses that remain stalled or have been exposed to neglected stalls. The yucca in Farrier’s Finish® “binds” with ammonia in the stall to reduce irritation to the hoof capsule. Farrier’s Finish® not only protects and disinfects the surface of the hoof, but it also penetrates deep within the hoof wall to combat microbes at the foundation of the invasion. By applying Farrier’s Finish® you are giving the hoof the chance to grow and flourish.

Click Here to Learn More About Farrier’s Finish®
Hoof Topical and Disinfectant Farrier’s Formula® and Farrier’s Finish® are the perfect team to establish better quality hooves. By providing proper nutrition and controlling the environment you are promoting the best quality hoof genetics will allow. But you must be patient and consistent to witness the results. If you truly want to see the best hoof underneath your horse, you must be willing to put in the time, resources, effort, and patience that is required. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at cservice@lifedatalabs.com or call us at 1-800-624-1873. We also recommend talking with your farrier and veterinarian about any hoof related issues your horse may be having.

Life Data Labs, Inc.

Debunking Hoof Remedies for Equine Thrush

Equine ThrushNo horse owner wants to pick up the hoof of their horse to find the signs of thrush staring back at them. Seeing that blackish discharge associated with thrush or even catching a whiff of its unpleasant odor can ruin anyone’s day. We do a lot to maintain the health of our horse’s hooves, and fighting thrush can sometimes seem like a never-ending battle. There are many tips and home hoof remedies that claim to be the answer to curing thrush, but many of these “remedies” only allow the infection to spread or kills the microbes only on the surface. As equine science has progressed over the years, many of these “remedies” are now red flagged and known to cause more harm than help. Unfortunately, many of these substances that were once deemed “safe” are still being used today to treat equine thrush.  Much of this is to do to a misinformed public or even due to the tradition of use. In this article, we will discuss many of these unsafe or ineffective practices, and what to look for when finding a proper answer to thrush.

Caustic Chemicals Are Harmful to the Sole and Frog

It is important to remember that, as tough as the hoof capsule may seem, it’s approximately 95% protein. This is the same as your own hair and skin and is likewise susceptible to damage. Application of a caustic chemical to the frog and sole essentially “chemically cooks” the exposed proteins. Yes, you may be killing many of the microbes causing the infection, but you are doing so at a cost to good sole and frog tissue. The resulting necrotic tissue not only becomes a food source for additional microbes, but the damage to the proteins seals off oxygen therefore reducing the tissue’s ability to breathe. The surviving deeper-seated microbes have a low oxygen environment to divide with subsequent re-eruption weeks later. Chemically cooking the surface proteins to create a deeper low oxygen environment hasn’t solved the problem but has counter-productively created a recurring problem. Many horse owners who use caustic materials to fight thrush will find themselves fighting the problem repeatedly as the microbial invasion returns over time.

Caustic Chemicals can Create Fear of Treatment

Caustic materials can induce discomfort if the deeper sensitive tissue of the frog is affected from moderate to severe thrush. Many horses will begin associating the chemical treatment with pain. This can cause the horse to become uneasy during regular hoof maintenance and create unnecessary problems for you or your farrier. In some instances, the horse may even begin to refuse to pick up their hooves entirely. Some horse owners may associate this as “bad behavior,” when in truth it is not bad behavior. It is a fear of pain. To avoid creating pain, a good rule of thumb is to never apply anything onto your horse’s hooves that you would not apply to your own skin.

Examples of Unsafe Caustic Chemicals: Copper Sulfate, Bleach, Turpentine, Formaldehyde

Don’t Use Materials that Block Oxygen

We briefly mentioned that caustic chemicals will denature proteins of the hoof and reduce the hoof’s ability to breathe. Oxygen can also be blocked to the hoof from packed debris or from the application of grease and oils to the sole and frog. The microbes that cause thrush thrive in areas with little to no oxygen. To prevent or treat thrush we must ensure that we are not nurturing the microbes by cutting off the supply of oxygen. This is why it is also important to clean and pick the hoof every day and maintain a clean environment for your horse. Many of these oils and greases that are “home remedies” will restrict the amount of oxygen to the tissue, creating a perfect environment for thrush and other hoof related diseases. The low oxygen environment not only creates an ideal site for the organisms of thrush, but also encourages “hoof eating” microbes to invade defects of the hoof wall structure leading to additional defects and collapsing hoof horn.

Examples of Oxygen Blocking Chemicals: Petroleum Based Tar, Motor Oil, Axel Grease, Pine Tar, Bacon Grease

Bacon grease not only blocks oxygen from the tissues, but the salt also overly hardens the sole and hoof wall to decrease elasticity and increase the likelihood of cracks and other defects occurring.

Also note that wrapping a foot capsule with plastic wrap and other non-breathable materials creates an ideal environment for the microbes of thrush to divide.

Remedies for Equine ThrushFinding the Right Treatment for Thrush

We encourage you to stay away from “home hoof remedies” because many of these items are caustic, will block oxygen, are untested, or simply have no impact on the health of the hoof. There are many remedies and treatments for thrush on the market, but many are still using the harmful ingredients we mentioned above. When looking for the right treatment, pay attention to the ingredients and ensure they do not contain any material that could be harmful. Make sure it is safe to use on your own skin and contains natural ingredients. Here are a few other tips to finding the correct treatment:

  • Contains non-caustic ingredients
  • Does not block oxygen
  • Contains safe anti-microbial ingredients such as Tea-Tree oil and/or low levels of iodine
  • Contains anti-microbial ingredients that penetrate into tissue
  • A product that stays in the sulci for extended periods of time

Thrush can lead to serious problems for your horse and finding the correct treatment can be difficult. If you begin to see signs of thrush it is important to tackle the issue efficiently and correctly before it leads to lameness. To treat and prevent thrush we strongly encourage the use of a non-caustic antimicrobial hoof clay that will stay in place for extended periods. The same product can fill and protect hoof defects, nail holes, and wall separations.

You can visit our website to find further information on the causes, treatment, and prevention of thrush. Always consult your farrier and veterinarian on any hoof related issues. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 1-800-624-1873.

The Importance of Maintaining a Regular Farrier Schedule

Regardless if your horse wears shoes or goes barefoot, hoof care is an important part of keeping your horse sound and comfortable. A major part of this maintenance includes trimming, resetting the shoes, and regular hoof care provided by the service of a farrier. But how often should your farrier visit and why is it important to maintain a regular schedule?

Ernest Woodward, a professional farrier, stated that “Routine and frequent trimmings and shoeings on a regular schedule creates a uniform shoeing cycle with no extremes.” In other words, keeping a regular schedule with your farrier leads to a more consistent and healthier hoof. Which makes sense; a regular schedule allows the farrier to ensure the hoof remains healthy, consistent, and helps prevent other issues from developing. There are many reasons why a regular farrier schedule is important to keep. Below we discuss a few of these benefits.

Farrier Trimming Hoof

Benefits of A Regular Farrier Schedule:

  • Balanced Hooves
  • Tendon/Joint Support
    • Overgrown toes and imbalanced hooves create extra stress on the hoof wall. This extra stress can not only lead to cracks and separations but puts strain on the joints and tendons. The extra strain on the joints and tendons can lead to injury. Proper trimming and a consistent schedule helps to prevent this added stress to the hoof wall, joints and tendons.
  • No Extremes
    • As Ernest Woodward said above, routine visits remove the risk of an extreme situation from being created. Having a regular farrier schedule decreases the chance of a hoof related issue from developing. It also acts as a preventive measure against hoof related issues and diseases.
  • Horse’s Comfort
    • By keeping a regular schedule and ensuring the horse has no extremes, correct support, and balanced hooves, you are helping to keep the horse sound which allows the horse to perform. The regular visits will also help your horse become more comfortable with the farrier and the routine checks.

The average horse needs to see a farrier every 4 to 6 weeks, but not every horse is the same. Some horses may need to see a farrier more, or less, often than the average horse. Determining how frequent your farrier visits will depend on the growth rate and current health of your horse’s hooves. A hoof that is badly damaged or suffering from a hoof related disease may require more attention, but assuming the hoof is healthy, the hoof growth can help us determine how often the horse needs to see a farrier. To do this, we must also look at the factors surrounding the horse that can affect hoof growth.

“Routine and frequent trimmings and shoeings on a regular schedule creates a uniform shoeing cycle with no extremes.”

Factors that Affect Hoof Growth:

  • Genetics
    • Although there isn’t much we can do to change genetics, some horses are born with the genes to build better quality hooves than other horses.
  • Nutrition
    • Nutrition plays a vital role in the growth and health of hooves. One of the first signs of poor nutrition will be hoof related issues and a dull hair coat. Correcting your horses nutrition and feeding a quality hoof supplement will help promote hoof growth.
  • Age
    • As a horse grows older the growth of the hooves will begin to slow. Younger horses like foals or yearlings will typically have much faster hoof growth than an aged horse. This is due in part to a higher metabolic rate in young horses.
  • Environment
  • Exercise
    • Horses that receive regular exercise will typically have better hoof growth than a horse with little activity. Exercise will increase the metabolism, which increases the available nutrients, hormones, etc. necessary for hoof growth.

Your farrier should be able to review these factors and get a good sense of your horse’s hoof growth, the conditions surrounding your horse, and how often the visits should occur. Then determining how often your farrier visits becomes a discussion between you and your farrier. The key point to remember is to establish a schedule based on your farrier’s recommendations, and consistently keep the schedule. Going months without seeing your farrier puts your horse’s hooves at risk of developing serious issues. Hoof maintenance should not be ignored or put off. It is a day-to-day requirement and crucial to hoof health, comfort, and the performance of your beloved horse.

If you have any questions regarding hoof health or maintenance, feel free to contact us at 1-800-624-1873.

Does My Horse Need a Joint Supplement?

Farrier Holding JointSome of you may already be asking yourself the question, “Should I be feeding my horse a joint supplement?” Maybe you’re noticing that your once energetic horse is slowing down and seems to be stiff and not as nimble. Perhaps your award-winning steed is now taking longer to recover after a competition or a long ride. Maybe your horse is young and thriving and you want to prolong its life and career. We all want to see our horses live a long, healthy, and enjoyable life, but can a joint supplement really make a difference? Would your horse benefit from receiving a joint supplement?

Before we go on any further, we first need to establish what is a joint problem. To make the joint work, it takes the collaboration of tendons, cartilage, bone, soft tissue, and fluid. Any number of these working parts can develop problems and create discomfort in the joint. Some of you may not consider a joint problem an issue until it’s just that – an issue, but a joint problem begins at the first signs of discomfort in the joint. If you ignore the first signs of a problem, it will likely bring more discomfort and develop more issues for you and your horse. If you pay close attention, you can catch the signs of joint discomfort before it develops into something worse or creates irreversible damage.

So, how do we know a problem is there? As the horse owner, you will spend more time with your horse than anyone. You are familiar with your horse’s personality, habits, the way it walks, and so on. You are the first person in a line of checks and balances concerning the health and well being of your horse. Watch the way your horse walks and runs. Keep an eye out for any changes to it’s gate or any initial signs of discomfort. These signs of discomfort can especially be seen when you pick up the foot to clean and pick the hoof. Also discuss your horse’s health with your farrier. If you’re regularly maintaining your horse’s hooves, your farrier will be working with your horse’s feet and legs on a regular basis. Your farrier will see the signs of discomfort in the joints as they watch your horse walk or pick up the foot to work on the hoof. Your veterinarian can also assist you in determining if there is an actual problem.

Horse Jumping

It is also important to note that it is much easier to prevent a joint issue than to try and fix one. Prevention is all about protecting the joint before a problem can develop and extending the life and durability of your horse’s joints. Prevention is especially important for horse owners that are regularly using their horse for competition or for work. Competing with your horse in the form of racing, jumping, dressage, three-day eventing, reining, roping, barrel racing, or other athletic competitions and training will regularly apply stress to the joints of your horse. These horses are at the highest risk of developing joint issues or suffering from a joint injury.

Just think of a human athlete. How many NBA, MLB, or NFL stars have we seen fall early in their careers due to an injury involving a joint? Today, these stars are taking precautions to extend the life of their careers. Eating healthier, stretching, taking supplements and staying in shape. It is an investment for them to prolong the life of their careers. We can do the same thing for our athletic horse and extend the life of their athletic careers through their diets, training, and supplementation. Feeding a joint supplement like Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength Plus Joint will provide the nutrients important for the health of the joints and will make the joints more flexible and less prone to injury. These nutrients will also help your horse recover more quickly after a competition and compete at its peak performance. By feeding a joint supplement early you’re not only preventing future problems but investing in the longevity of your horse.

Supplementing will also help relieve discomfort and pain for a horse that has already developed joint issues. If you have an athletic horse that developed an injury during competition or training, the nutrients in a joint supplement will help rebuild and strengthen the connective tissue within the joint. Feeding the supplement will also provide relief to the problem areas, allowing your horse to regain movement that was once too painful to make. This is especially important for the older horse who may be arthritic or have problems due to the build up of past injuries. This will prolong the longevity of your horse, strengthen the joints, and help prevent issues from worsening.

AffectJointHealth3

You may not be jumping hurdles or taking your horse on week long rides, but it doesn’t mean problems can’t occur. Feeding a joint supplement is never a bad idea, especially if you are seeking to extend your horse’s ability to work and compete or wish to address issues developed from injury or age. If you are looking for a joint supplement, we recommend Farrier’s Formula Double Strength Plus Joint. Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength Plus Joint strengthens the connective tissues of the joints, tendons and ligaments and contains nutrients to promote lubrication of the joints. The inclusion of proline, ornithine, glucosamine and manganese provide targeted joint support. This product contains the sulfur needed for joint health in the form of the amino acids methionine and cysteine. Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength Plus Joint also provides nutrients important for hoof growth and joint health without the concern of over supplementation that could occur from feeding a separate hoof and joint supplement. If you have any questions on Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength Plus Joint, proper supplementation, or on joint health please call us at 1-800-624-1873.