Have you ever heard the saying, “No hoof, no horse?” The definition of that phrase is this: if your horse does not have solid, healthy feet, then your horse is more susceptible to soundness issues and may be unable to perform his job. Does your horse suffer from chronic dry, cracking feet? Are you at a loss for how to fix this?
The University of Edinburgh (Scotland) conducted a study to see how hoof dressing affected both healthy hooves and hooves that were in poor condition. The idea was to see how the moisture would pass in and out of the hoof capsules, and researchers used samples from several equine cadaver’s hoof walls, frog tissues, and hoof soles. These samples came from hooves that were considered to be in good condition with no visible cracks and hooves that were considered in poor condition with visible cracks.
When tested, the hoof dressing went deeper into the hoof tissue samples of poorly conditioned hooves vs. the well-conditioned hooves. The hooves in good condition only saw moisture penetrating less than one millimeter into any hoof tissue. This led the researchers to conclude that hooves in good condition have a “natural moisture barrier” and do not benefit from excess use of hoof dressing. However, this research also indicates that hoof dressings are very beneficial to horses with hooves in poor condition, and the dressings allow the weak hoof to become healthier over a period of time.
There are many theories and hoof products promoted in the horse world that promise better, healthier hooves in short periods of time, but which ones will help improve the condition of your horse’s hooves? Here are three top tips:
- Provide your horse with the proper nutrition he needs. Many researchers believe that the optimal way to improve your horse’s hoof condition is through proper nutrition. Poor hooves are sometimes the result of poor genetics; therefore, this problem has to be managed for the horse’s life instead of completely eliminated with the use of one product. It has been proven that feeding your horse a properly balanced diet is way more effective than applying outside products to the hooves alone. Nutrients that promote healthy tissues and their growth include biotin, iron, zinc, iodine, protein, calcium, and manganese. Over time, a properly balanced diet will help create healthier hooves for your horse.
- Be sure your horse’s care is managed properly. How often do you clean your horse’s stall or the area he normally stands in (i.e., his paddock shed, etc.)? Horses who stand in their manure or urine for long periods of time degrade the quality of the hoof’s horn, which leads to a weakening of the hoof wall. Your horse’s feet should be trimmed and shod by a farrier every four to six weeks in order to prevent cracks, chips, and long toes from causing disproportionate strain on the hoof. In addition, your horse should be exercised daily to promote regular blood flow within the hoof. This will help the hoof remain solid and stay in its normal shape. It will also help prevent conditions such as contracted heels from occurring.
- Choose your hoof dressing wisely—they are not all created equal. Hoof dressings can be very beneficial for overall hoof growth, but you have to be aware of what you’re purchasing. Some ingredients like certain solvents, formalin, or tar-based products actually damage the layers of the hoof horn and cause excessive drying of the outer hoof layers. This can lead to brittle outer tissues, which weakens the entire hoof and makes it more susceptible to cracking and bacterial infections. When this happens, moisture is not absorbed directly into the hoof and can flow in and out. This defeats the purpose of a moisturizer completely. Using moisturizers with these ingredients can also make the hoof too moist, which would make the hoof as weak as a poorly conditioned one.
But there is one ingredient that not many hoof dressings possess, and that is Camelina Oil. That’s why Excel Supplements is proud to introduce a new product, Shine Hoof Oil. This hoof dressing’s main ingredient is Camelina oil, which is all natural, GMO-free, and cultivated by Excel, for Excel. It can be safely applied to the hoof wall, heel bulbs, coronet band, sole and the frog of your horse’s hooves.
When paired with ExcelEQ ProElite, both products promote healthy hoof growth for your horse at the nutritional level and on the exterior level. As research has shown, feeding for optimal hoof health and using a dressing concurrently are the optimal way to create healthy hooves for your horse.