Hoof Growth and Healthy Hooves
I receive a lot of queries about hoof growth and thin soles. Here are some tips and information that may help
Genetics - Some horses are going to be prone to poor horn and hoof health and these guys need a little more help which is achievable, so don't be disheartened by my opening line.
We can help improve what nature has given and perhaps turn things around for them.
Diet - The old saying you are what you eat!! Too true, but here is the thing, all of what I am writing here goes in tandem, for example, loading a tub of feed with supplements without addressing all the other points won't give you the results you are looking for by itself. Look at the whole horse.
So Yes diet is paramount, we are off to a good start!. Think of our plants, when we feed them they give bigger, brighter and healthier flowers, but we only give them what they need right?
Good forage, a balancer that has integrity and less of the sugar/molasses laden stuff that just makes it taste nice.. believe me, your horse knows best and when the horse knows he needs a certain mineral or vitamin he will seek it out.
Now, happy horse, fed and with the right balanced amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals etc.
What needs to happen now is for the body to utilise all this yummy healthy stuff and get it moving around the body via the bloodstream, easy right? no hard work necessary, the heart just goes ahead and pumps it all around.
But wait, the hoof is different, the blood that enters the hoof has no way of returning back to the heart without the assistance of the hoof itself, think of the hoof as a pump, blood comes in, sloshies around, so with no muscles in the lower leg or hoof, it has to act like a pump and pump that venous blood back to the heart.
So how does it do this in order for another delivery of nutritional and oxygen laden blood that will increase the health of the hoof do this?
Its all about movement! Veins called the venous plexus that are located at the sides of the lateral cartilages and sensitive hoof parts are compressed against the lateral cartilages that forces the blood
back to the heart! of course this cannot happen if the horse is not moving and causing compression.. that is one of the reasons why you get a lot of stabled horses with filled legs.
So in a nutshell.. every step that your horse takes provides it with nutrition to the hoof.. super cool, hence the saying the horse has 5 hearts!
Circulation - Without circulation everything will wither. So movement is key to circulation along with a hoof that is void of constraints to allow circulation.
This is where the frog comes in.
Bob Bowker, VMD, PhD, professor and head of the Equine Foot Laboratory at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, says the frog is vital for absorbing shock. “Without a good frog, in my opinion, the foot does not function well, and that is why we have so many foot problems.”
Bob knows his stuff so taken heed.
Tips - Ride, walk with your horse, have haynets around the stable and not just in one place, turnout with pasture buddies, track systems etc, get creative and encourage more movement
So the Frog.. Protects the digital cushion, deep digital flexor tendon, bursa and navicular bone...yep the frog is your sensitive tissue armour!
Wow think of all those sensitive and vital tissues under that triangular shape, then we start to understand the real importance of the Frog. Love your frogs!
Movement - So all I have written about here is pointless if your blood pump is standing still, it just wont work.
Movement and lots of it.. get that blood sloshing around laden with all the good stuff with a nice ground contacting frog to feed the hoof all the goodness before returning back to the heart ready for another dose.
Now the hoof is happy and healthier, in fact you may have a hard time keeping up with the growth, its just so awesome.
So whats next?
Hygiene and Good Hoof Care Management!!! That's all up to you.
Finding the right hoof care provider is key together with finding the right products that fit your horses particular needs.
Hygiene - Keep the frog free of flesh munching microbes (Thrush). Thrush loves and lives in hooves that are packed with a mix of faeces and mud, its the perfect environment, moist and dark with no oxygen.
Tips - Daily pick out the hooves and give them a good scrub with a wire brush and daily antibacterial and antifungal applications.
When darker nights draw in your horses may be standing in for longer periods of time so our thick clay paste is ideal for treating and also acting as a barrier whether stabled or out in the field.
Ok so now you have all the makings for hoof growth and health, brilliant!
Finally and in no particular order
Your Hoof Care Provider - Whether shod or Barefoot get involved and learn what you can and ask questions. I personally have a barefoot horse and a farrier to trim, he never touches the sole, never rasps the hoof wall and only does what is needed. I asked him one day why he did not dress the hoof wall, as most do, he said " She needs thats" So as the saying goes "Do no harm" This made me really happy.
Hoof Care is a Whole Horse Approach
Happy Trails Folks from Deb and Dell at Horse Leads. If you need advise on how best to choose any of our products do get in touch xx
Some links to products that may interest you for healthy Froglets