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Your horse’s hoof health is vitally important and regular routine care is crucial. One thing you may want to consider if your horse has very poor hoof health is supplementing their diet with a supplement. Many owners choose to supplement their horse’s feed in general to prevent issues occurring however they can be particularly effective at treating ongoing hoof problems. Here we're looking at the Best Ingredients for Horse Hoof Supplements.
There are so many hoof supplements on the market these days it can be very tricky to decide what may or may not work well for your horse. This is completely understandable and there is always an element of experimenting as trial and error. What may work very well for one horse may not work well for another. The situation at times can become somewhat frustrating.
One key thing you consider when choosing a suitable hoof supplement for your horse is the type of ingredients that are used in the formulas. This may seem insignificant, but it actually goes a long way to finding a perfect solution. Knowing the ingredients you are providing your horse can really help determine how effective that supplement may be.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key ingredients used in a variety of horse joint supplements to help us determine how effective these may or may not for your horse.
Biotin is a highly concentrated ingredient. It is a natural water-soluble B vitamin that mammals are incapable of synthesising off their own accord. In a healthy digestive system, a horse would generally produce enough Biotin naturally to maintain healthy hooves however this isn’t always the case. Supplementation is often necessary. Biotin can be found in many types of hoof supplements and assists to maintain the growth of a healthy new hoof.
Biotin also plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy coat, tail and mane. Whether your horse is at a high competition level or in complete contrast turned out to grass, Biotin is a highly effective ingredient that is suitable for use with all types of equines.
It is true to say that not much research has been carried out to prove the effectiveness of Biotin to help with horse’s hoof care. The most recent research carried out by a group of Scottish scientists from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh was in 1998. The scientists fed 4 ponies 60mg of biotin per horse per day and hoof growth was very apparent.
Although there is not much research to back up the claims that Biotin improves hoof growth in horse’s many owners and supplement manufacturers believe this is a key ingredient to help with this issue.
Methionine is technically classed as an amino acid. It is essential for forming strong healthy hooves. The hoof wall is over 90% protein and therefore this ingredient is said to significantly help in improving overall hoof quality. It is also great at improving overall skin and hair health.
Methionine can be a great source for all-round horse health. You will find it mostly used in horse hoof supplements however it can also be found in many other types of supplements too. It assists a broad range of body functions and is often used to maintain a healthy coat and skin as well as improving muscle health.
It is possible for horses to become Methionine deficient. This is partly due to the lack of animal-based proteins received by horses and their plant-based diet which is generally quite low in methionine.
There are some very clear signs to look out for when diagnosing a deficiency. It is often the case that your horse’s horn growth will slow down or stop completely. You will notice a thinning of the hoof and weakening of the hoof wall. In the long term this is likely to result in:
Zinc is a mineral that works closely together with Methionine and is essential to our horse’s diet. It is highly possible for a horse to suffer from a Zinc deficiency and it will usually result in unhealthy hooves. With a deficiency of this kind you may see:
Supplementing with a zinc formula can really help rectify some of these issues. Zinc can be very helpful to prevent the destruction of keratin ad contributes heavily to the integrity of the hoof. Research has shown numerous times that horses who have unhealthy hooves more often than not suffer from a zinc deficiency.
It can sometimes be difficult for horses to get all the zinc they need naturally from their diet alone. Forage contains quite small amounts of zinc which are the bulk of most horse’s daily feeds. Higher levels can be found in concentrate feeds such as those that contain wheat and bran however lots of horses are put on diets with very small amounts of concentrate feed depending on the type of work they carry out.
Based on this, it is very easy to see how horses can need the extra boost of zinc from supplements. Zinc supplements are very common for horses and poorly hooves are the likely the result of this.
MSM is sometimes known as Methylsulphonylmethane is a rich source of mineral Sulphur in which the connective tissue of all equines is made up of. It is a naturally occurring organic molecule that is most commonly found in fresh raw foods.
Studies have shown that certain doses of MSM have a positive effect on horses producing tighter laminar connection and mechanically stronger hooves (where the hoof texture becomes more like polished marble). It is fair to say there hasn’t been enough research carried out on the long term effects of MSM for horses but it is considered to be one of the least toxic biological substances. Sulphur overdoses are rare.
You may have heard of MSM before as an ingredient that is more commonly used in joint supplements for horses. Like with many ingredients, there is a crossover of what this supplement is used for. This is an ingredient which provides multiple benefits and as well as helping with joint issues it is also praised for its success with helping horses who have hooves that are in bad condition.
Brewer’s Yeast is a popular ingredient that has been dubbed ‘one of nature’s wonder foods’. It is a naturally occurring yeast that you may have heard of before since it is used frequently in the brewing of beer. This ingredient is rich in protein which is highly beneficial for horses since they often are lacking in this. It also contains trace minerals and complex B vitamins which horses can often be deficient in.
Brewer’s yeast has been known to aid in the all-round health of horses hooves. It can be found in many popular hoof supplements and can aid in keeping hooves strong, promoting healthy growth and looking after the overall condition of your horse’s feet.
Brewer’s yeast is a natural probiotic that is often bought as a standalone ingredient thanks to its powerful benefits. It is, however, more commonly used in a formula of both natural and manmade ingredients. Feedback has shown that mixing Brewer’s yeast with the likes of MSM, Biotin and Zinc is the most effective.
Calcium is a very important part of the horse’s diet and many do not receive enough from their daily feeds. Studies confirm that horses with the correct amount of calcium in their systems rarely have hoof problems. Calcium is particularly important for both hoof and bone health and many horses do receive enough calcium through their daily diet alone.
Many owners choose to supplement their horse’s feed with calcium supplements to improve the quality of their horse’s hooves. Calcium can be fed to horses as a stand-alone ingredient however it is most commonly found as part of a formula in many commercial hoof supplements.
Calcium is a macromineral that is required in quite large quantities to be effective. If your horse has a calcium deficiency it is most likely to show in other parts of the horse’s body and eventually alone the line present a hoof problem. A well-balanced diet is always recommended, however, the absorption of calcium is usually quite small and therefore supplementation is ideal to ensure your horse has the correct amount in their system.
There is no doubt about it Vitamin C plays a huge role in your horse’s health. Grass is a great source of Vitamin C, but as we all know well, all year round, fresh grass is slim and hay does not contain anywhere near the same amount. Limited turn out can therefore often cause a Vitamin C deficiency in horses.
Many owners choose to supplement their horse’s with Vitamin C to help assist with the quality of their horse’s hooves. This vitamin is said to help maintain the integrity of the hoof wall allowing it to stay strong and in good overall condition. It helps to increase collagen fibres and massively helps the connective tissues from wearing down.
Vitamin C can be administered as a stand-alone ingredient however you will commonly see this vitamin included in most hoof supplements. It is an ingredient that is said to work very well with other ingredients such as zinc and Methionine.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that is often in short supply within hay and grass. For this reason deficiencies in Lysine are common in horses and ponies and supplementation is highly recommended. A horse’s diet mostly consists of hay and grass (roughage) and although you may feel like your horse is receiving all the right nutrition this is necessarily always the case.
Lysine can be found in the keratin protein of the hoof already, but most horses do not have enough of this to keep their hooves healthy. It has been proven however that higher levels of Lysine in your horse's diet can help promote hoof growth.
Lysine is also known to converts fat to energy for bone health, a healthy coat, and weight management so you can see how highly beneficial this ingredient is generally for your horse’s well-being.
Omegas are the name for unsaturated fatty acids and are classed as essential oils that the horse cannot naturally produce themselves and therefore supplementation is essential. Two of the most common oils are omega 3 and 6 which are particularly important to a horse’s diet and are said to produce an anti-inflammatory response which could be particularly helpful for horses and ponies suffering from painful laminitis. You will often see Omega 3’s included in horse joint supplements as they can be very beneficial to horses that are suffering from joint issues.
Omega 3 oils can be effective in the following ways:
As you can see, Omega 3’s are a very beneficial ingredient in your horse’s diet for many reasons. With the right amount, Omega 3’s can keep your horse’s hoof strong and durable. This, in turn, can prevent the hoof from becoming weak and brittle which often results in cracking.