Upwards of 80% of all lameness conditions in the horse are directly connected to poor hoof or foot health. That is a staggering number and considering that the foot is often overlooked, it makes us wonder what would happen IF we looked at the foot more closely? Hoof health is intertwined with many factors including the diet, digestive health, stress, correct trimming and balance, and the immune response. This can be overwhelming for most and in many cases, everything is being applied properly, yet, results fail to follow. Is there something more that can be done to help encourage proper hoof health and conditioning for your horse?
Hoof health is a concept that many owners recognize as being important, while others either fail to recognize the true value of a healthy foot. For many owners, hoof health is quickly gained and maintained, while for others, there is almost a daily struggle. The level of this struggle can vary from one horse to the next, and despite applying all information to benefit that horse, some continue to struggle. As horse owners, we can see photos of what a foot should look like, but we fail to take into consideration that no two horses are alike. We can see a ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo of a foot, but fail to realize that time was involved and often other factors, including the environment, which can differ from one horse to the next.
One can apply a proper diet, providing all necessary nutrients, and even adhere to strict farrier visits with guided supervision, but not all cases respond as desired. Again, there are many factors involved, and not all of them are in our control.
For many of us, the environment is a true factor and a hurdle to overcome. The equine hoof desires to be dry, which allows it to become tougher and more resistant to damage. In many areas, including our own, the weather can be a real problem, creating excess moisture that impacts the hoof health and integrity. That moisture influence can be made worse when the horse is exposed to a stall, where feces and urine can literally eat away at a healthy foot. This moisture not only weakens the hoof structure, but it can open the door for increased bacterial and fungal infections that eat away the foot in the form of thrush, white line disease, and solar abscesses. All of the infectious conditions are attributed to an excessively moist environment, but their presence also indicates a weakened hoof structure.
A horse owner can feed their horse properly, providing supplements to support the hoof, but in many cases, due to the environment, the poor conditioning continues. In our OTTB rehab facility, poor hoof health is a continual problem and at times seems to be an uphill battle. Some horses respond more readily than others, but the positive gains can be quickly lost with a week or two of bad weather. So, I too know the struggles that can be present.
Is there more that can be done to aid the horse’s foot and health?
Topical Solutions for Improved Hoof Health in the Horse
Considering the many factors involved in obtaining the healthy hoof, it can prove to be a real challenge as not all factors can be controlled or managed ideally. If you can’t control the environment, then maybe you can create a barrier of protection!
Cur-OST® EQ Sole & Tendon Therapy– Topical therapy for the equine hoof.
- Turmeric Essential Oil
- Jojoba Oil
This formula was created in our facility to aid many of the off-track Thoroughbred horses that we encounter with a variety of hoof ailments. It has proven to be of tremendous value in our hands, becoming a daily part of every horse’s regimen.
Here are the benefits of this topical hoof supplement:
- Naturally promotes a healthy inflammatory response in and around the hoof capsule
- Naturally aids to repel excessive moisture and build resistance to harmful urine and feces
- Naturally provides nutrients (Vitamin A, E, and essential fatty acids) to promote healthy hoof integrity
- Naturally provides anti-microbial properties, to reduce levels of potentially harmful and damaging bacteria and fungi that come into contact with the hoof capsule.
These 4 benefits can be their weight in gold, when applied daily to the sole and exterior hoof capsule. As a result of daily use, the horse’s hoof can become stronger, more durable, and demonstrate healthier growth patterns, when combined with proper nutrition and supplementation.
The antimicrobial properties can be very beneficial in many types of cases, but can be very helpful in ongoing cases of thrush and white line conditions. As you can see in the photos below, there is a marked difference in bacterial growth on agar plates, between the treated and untreated groups.
Hoof conditions can be very frustrating to contend with in the horse and are often directly connected to other lameness and health ailments. Achieving proper hoof health can require time and patience, being directly linked to the diet, inflammatory factors, digestive health, proper trimming, and the environment. You can control most of those factors, but often the environment poses its own set of challenges.
Check out our video on Cur-OST EQ Sole & Tendon Therapy for further information.
Cur-OST® EQ Sole & Tendon Therapy can help you to manage those external influences and assist your horse in making positive gains when it comes to hoof health and soundness!
Author: Tom Schell, D.V.M., CVCH, CHN