So much money; so little time and results.
Let's face it. Hoof Supplements are expensive and time consuming. Not to mention, many reap little to no positive results.
What's a horse owner to do?
Let's take a quick look at the nutrients that equine hooves need, apart from mechanics (trimming, husbandry, etc), in order to stay in good health.
Eleanor Kellon, VMD, notes in her book, Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals: A Guide to Peak Health and Performance Through Nutrition, that, "Only an estimated 2% of horses with hoof problems have an uncomplicated biotin deficiency."
Whoa! Wait a minute ... isn't Biotin THE major supplement that is most advised to be given with any hoof issues?
Well, get this ... Only a handful of studies have been performed in horses to determine the effect of biotin, and not one has been published in this millennium.
Hmmmmmm. OK, the thoughts are coming here ... so BIOTIN is one nutrient that is said to be vital to the horse's hooves and yes, it is. It is vital. So how does the horse GET biotin if not from a supplement? Biotin is NOT synthesized by either humans or equines; that is, we do not MAKE biotin in our bodies.
(Those items struck out by red line not suitable for horses.)
Biotin is obtained either through the diet or via the absorption of biotin that is synthesized by intestinal bacteria. In other words, horses' MUST eat that which is providing biotin. What provides that Biotin?
According to Carey Williams, PhD, equine extension specialist and assistant professor at the Equine Science Center at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, "Pasture is the number one source of biotin for horses. This vitamin is found in high concentrations in alfalfa, moderate concentrations in oat, barley, and soybean meal, and only in low levels in corn." (and refer to above chart for more. Raw eggs (yolk) have an amazing amount of biotin and can be added to the horse's diet.)
So, ... with all the horses that have been cordoned off in 'dry lots' we can now understand why biotin might be recommended in such high numbers. It makes sense? Maybe ... Keep this in mind while we go on to other nutrients that make up healthy hooves ...
Methionine, Proline, Glycine and Glutamine are all proponents that build healthy connective tissues/collagen.
Copper and Vitamin C are also necessary for the formation and growth of strong and healthy hooves.
Zinc is needed to help form STRONG outer layers of horn and skin. If there is not enough keratin in the hooves/body then the hooves will become soft and brittle.
Selenium is often touted to be necessary for the health of equine hooves although there are NO supportive studies on this! In fact, Selenium can be TOXIC when fed too much. It is also synergistic with Vitamin E so the ratio of Sel/E must be maintained properly.
Salt and Minerals -- well, everyone knows to provide salt and minerals for their horses as they are essential for whole horse health. The origin and type of salts and minerals, however, differ greatly from one source to another.
Other nutrients that might play an indirect role in hoof quality include fatty acids, manganese, and B vitamins.
So, if not from a commercially prepared product, where are horse to get these vitamins, minerals and other nutrients? Obviously, horses that do not have hundreds of acres on which to roam and, more specifically, those horses that are doomed to be penned up in a small dry lot don't stand a chance of getting these necessary nutrients unless from a highly processed, commercial feed. It's so important to note, too, that they ONLY get the required amounts of the commercial nutrients as stated IF they receive the minimum amount of food that is suggested by the manufacturer.
There is a simple, easy answer to this.
Simply adding one, small fresh 'salad' to the horse's diet, each day, can help ensure the horse is getting the necessary vitamins and minerals needed. That is, as long as the horse is getting pasture (chlorophyll, biotin) and free choice grass hay with free choice salt and minerals available as well.
All vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, weeds, flowers, aka, forages, have their unique nutrient properties. When put together in specific combinations for the individual animal then amazing results are seen for the unique situation and within a very short time, as well.
Hooves ARE amazing in themselves but they cannot be their strongest if they're not given what they need for whole health.
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 includingThe 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 18 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. For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com/2012/RESUME.pdf