healthy hooves Archives - Life Data® Blog

5 Early Signs of Unhealthy Hooves

Your horse will not verbally inform you of a hoof related problem. So, unless your horse is related to Mr. Ed, it’s your job as a horse owner to detect hoof issues. Luckily, there are signs to look for that can help you in this process. With a keen eye, knowledge of what to look for, and a commitment to maintain healthy hooves, these signs can help you address hoof problems before they become serious. Below are 5 early signs of unhealthy hooves:

1. Changes in Personality

Horse with pretty hooves

No one knows your horse like you do. Your horse’s mannerisms, movements, and actions are all part of its personality. A change in one or more of these things can be a sign of discomfort, tenderness, or pain in the hooves. Watch the way your horse is walking. Has the gait changed? Does your horse seem less energetic or moving more slowly? Pay attention to your horse’s actions. Is your horse resistant to work, perform, or walk on certain surfaces? Is your horse less social or acting moody? These changes may be a sign that a problem is developing.

2. Outer Hoof Health

Chipping and cracking are not normal for a healthy hoof. The development of chips and cracks along the hoof wall are signs of weakened hoof integrity. This can also be a sign that your horse’s hooves are too dry.  Cracks and chips predispose the hoof to bacterial and fungal invasions which can further deteriorate hoof health. Pay attention to the outer appearance of the hoof during regular cleaning and maintenance. During cleanings, be alert for odors coming from the hoof. If an odor is present, it is likely an infection is already present. The use of a non-caustic antimicrobial hoof topical or hoof clay can help protect hoof cracks from “hoof-eating” microbes.

Filling old nail holes in hoof

3. Dull Hair Coat

Your horse’s hair coat condition is a direct reflection of the internal health of the hooves. The hair coat, skin and hooves are all made from dermal tissue, and require many of the same nutrients. If the horse is under or over supplemented with these nutrients, problems with the hair coat are usually duplicated in the hooves. The hair coat is the first to show signs of these nutrient deficiencies. If your horse’s hair coat begins to lose luster, the quality of the hooves may soon follow. Review your horse’s current feeding program and consider adding a high-quality hoof supplement to the diet. Feeding a high-quality hoof supplement will help provide the necessary nutrients to promote the internal health of the hooves and hair coat.

4. Shoe Retention

Shod horses require a strong hoof wall to hold shoes. It is important to maintain a regular farrier schedule to ensure hooves are balanced and shoes are properly set. Although shoes may loosen over time, hooves should be strong enough to hold a shoe until the next scheduled farrier appointment. On average, that time frame should be around every 6 weeks. If the hoof is not able to hold the shoe for that period, the health of the hoof should be evaluated. This may also be a sign that environmental conditions surrounding the horse are influencing poor hoof health. Overly wet environments can contribute to the development of soft hooves. While overly dry environments can create hooves that are too brittle. Both conditions make it difficult for a hoof to retain shoes. 

5. Hoof Growth

Slow hoof growth is another indicator that your horse is not receiving the proper nutrition needed to promote a healthy hoof. In the spring and summer months, you should expect good healthy hoof growth. On average, you should see ¼ to ⅜ inches of growth per month. During the winter months your horse’s hooves will not grow as much, although it is still important to continue winter hoof care during this period. Hooves with a good growth rate tend to be healthier and easier to manage, trim and shoe. Feeding a high-quality hoof supplement can help promote hoof growth. Utilizing a non-caustic hoof topical is also recommended to protect new growth from the external environment.

Your horse’s hooves are essential to the soundness and overall health of your horse. Noticing these early signs of poor hoof health can not only save your horse’s hooves, but also save you time, money, and frustration. If you are witnessing one or more of these signs, consult with your farrier and veterinarian regarding the health of your horse’s hooves. If you have any questions regarding proper nutrition or hoof care, feel free to contact us at 1-800-624-1873, 1-256-370-7555, or cservice@lifedatalabs.com.

Complete Equine Hoof Care

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.

Hoof Health and Nutrition

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.

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.

The Environment and Hoof Health

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.

Full Hoof Protection

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.