Hooves Always Tell Us What They Want to Grow

A post written by Ute Philippi caught my eye on Facebook. What a great topic to write on and since this is one of MY passions, I'm excited to write on it today. 

Ute wrote, 

"Excessive wall flares are typically a sign of a nutritionally weak laminar connection which allows the hoof wall to migrate away from the coffin bone . How much depends on how weak the laminae have become to resist normal loading forces. Extreme cases we know as founder.

This hoof is a good example of what we frequently encounter due to common nutritional weaknesses that many horse care providers still have no knowledge of. The newer grow out on top for about an inch shows that this horse's (rescue TB) nutrition has improved to grow a much tighter & healthier laminar connection.

This should be the primary goal of every hoof care provider."

It is clearly seen that the hoof growth changed with a diet change  - even in a shod hoof. 

I've state numerous times, "What goes in, grows out." 

Just like our fingernails - Savvy Doctors and other Practitioners can tell so much about what's going on INSIDE the body from the 'signs' on our fingernails - even down to specific organs. 

We all know what to look for in healthy horses -- bright eyes, alert demeanor, shiny coat, good flesh. But what about the hooves? How many people really LOOK at the quality of the horn when assessing the overall health of a horse? 

I'd venture to say, not many. 

In fact, I'd venture to say that most wouldn't even THINK to look at the horn quality of the hooves. Of course they look at the shape and form of the hooves and they test for lameness but to examine the quality of the hoof horn, itself? 

Doesn't happen often. Not nearly as much as it SHOULD happen. 

Can you SEE the new growth of the hoof above? Many would think that something was wrong "with the periople" !  Well, the periople is from where the horn originates ... the papillae under the periople and coronary band are the growing factors for the new hoof growth. They can only develop horn for the hoof as strongly as the quality of the diet being fed. 

Now, granted, movement is another factor that comes into play and I do believe that diet and movement work 'hoof in hoof' (hand in hand *grin*) ... together. Over the years, however, when nothing BUT the diet changes and I see amazing new hoof growth then I can only conclude as to the validity of the importance of the diet in developing healthy hooves. 

I'm not going to get into the details of feeding horses in this post. There are quite a few posts already where I've done just that with specifics. I would encourage you to go to: nutrition and read the articles there. I will also encourage discussion on these articles and the information they hold. Please feel free to comment below. 

Lynn Stewart wrote in August 2012 issue of Canadian Horse Journal. --

"As an equine nutritionist, one of the first areas of a horse I evaluate is the hoof quality. The hoof can act as a mirror; its external condition often reflects the horse’s internal nutritional state. Many common hoof problems can be indications of an inadequate diet. The kind of hoof issues observed may help you determine which dietary area is lacking. It is important to note that there is no single magic dietary component that will guarantee good feet; rather, good feet are the result of a balanced diet including adequate protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals.

The hoof below shows very distinct changed in the quality of the horn when diet changes were implemented. Photo from Pete Ramey, Hoof Rehab  Again, the point of the diet change is very evident in the hoof wall at the periople down to about 1/2 way to the ground. Can you see that? 

Once again ... WHAT GOES IN, GROWS OUT!   Through the hooves ... 

I hope this will encourage you to take a good look at your horses' hooves and if you HAVE made a diet change recently, see what you can see. If your horse has poor horn or hoof quality or recurrent abscessing, dry hooves, shelly hooves, peeling hooves, and other less-than-optimal conditions I would urge you to consider examining your horses' diets. Read the posts in the linked URL above and see what changes for the better you can make. The adage, no hoof-no horse, will always stand true ... 


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (239)-573-9687. For further information please click here:  www.thepenzancehorse.com





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