Nutrition For Healthy Hooves
Whatever your horse does – from piaffing to hacking – healthy hooves are pivotal to their health and performance and the old saying ‘no hoof, no horse’ is 100% true. Hoof health and quality is dependent on balanced nutrition, so providing your horse’s hooves with the right nutrients is essential to maintain optimum health, strength, and performance, alongside the right care and protection.
Lisa Elliott, MSc
E-Learning and Community Coordinator at FormaHoof – explains what your horse’s hooves need to be healthy, what helps to keep them healthy, and how FormaHoof’s newly formulated HoofRehab and SportHoof Nutritional Supplements can help provide the best nutrition to support strong, well-functioning and healthier hooves throughout their life.
Which nutrients support healthy hooves?
Healthy hooves need an optimal blend of the right nutrients at the right levels to make a difference to hoof health within their diet. The key nutrients for hoof health are:
- Key vitamins and minerals
- Omega fatty acids
How can a supplement help with hoof health?
A diet including ad-lib forage and appropriate energy levels can provide many of these essential nutrients. However, factors such as forage quality, forage type, soil type, season, age, lifestyle, and that all horses are individuals may mean that certain micronutrients can fall short of the levels needed for optimum hoof health.
Lysine, for example, is a key component of a healthy hoof structure but can often be lacking in forage, along with vital micronutrients for hooves such as copper and zinc. If a horse or pony has restricted access to grass for any reason, this can also reduce their intake of such minerals. Intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, also important for hoof health and structure and present in fresh grass, would also be reduced. Additionally, horses or ponies with a compromised microbiome may not receive effective levels of biotin for strong, healthy hoof horn. Furthermore, hardworking and performance horses will have an increased need for micronutrients and for additional antioxidants such as Vitamin E, to help protect and maintain healthy hooves.
By addressing these shortfalls and supplying essential nutrients at optimum levels, a targeted, high specification hoof supplement can help support improved growth, structure, integrity, and overall health. A healthier hoof supports optimal performance, mobility and reduces the chance of hoof pathologies and disease, for all round health and well-being.
Supplying targeted hoof nutrition with FormaHoof
To provide your horse’s hooves with targeted nutritional support, FormaHoof have developed two brand new Nutritional Supplements – FormaHoof HoofRehab, created for leisure horses at maintenance to light work, and FormaHoof SportHoof, created for harder working performance and sport horses. Both supplements are designed to work synergistically and holistically with FormaHoof to provide a truly beneficial, healthier, all round approach to hoof health.
These multi-action hoof supplements help promote optimum hoof health and integrity, through the inclusion of key nutrients at levels scientifically proven to promote hoof growth, quality, and health:
Essential Amino Acids – Lysine and Methionine
Hooves are made of protein, in particular a type of protein called Keratin. Amino acids provide the building blocks for proteins and the hooves need key amino acids to build keratin. Lysine is known as the first limiting amino acid, is an integral part of building proteins and is found within a variety of tissues, hormones, and cells throughout the body. Lysine can often be deficient in equine diets and its presence is vital for keratin production in hooves. Lysine is included in FormaHoof HoofRehab and FormaHoof SportHoof at optimal levels, reflective of the needs of leisure and performance horses.
Methionine is unique in that it contains the mineral sulphur, a key component of keratin, used for forming sulphur bonds within keratin responsible for healthy, strong hoof structure. As a sulphur giving amino acid, Methionine helps to promote optimal hoof strength and flexibility. Methionine can also be used to produce the sulphur rich amino acid cysteine, which is vital in hoof horn formation. We understand how important Methionine is to hoof health so FormaHoof HoofRehab and SportHoof Nutritional supplements have been formulated to provide effective levels of methionine to support stronger, healthier hooves.
Biotin is probably the most important B vitamin for healthy hooves. It is essential for Keratin formation, cell to cell adhesion in the hoof wall, and cell proliferation, making it pivotal for hoof horn growth and integrity. Research has shown that providing around 20mg of Biotin daily can help hooves to strengthen and grow, but to be fully effective it needs to be provided with other nutrients such as methionine and zinc. Ideally, at least 25 to 30mg of biotin should be fed daily for full effect, so we have ensured that both FormaHoof HoofRehab and FormaHoof SportHoof deliver a very high specification, to help promote strong, healthy hooves with continuous growth.
Copper is needed for the synthesis and maintenance of connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons, bone framework and cartilage, all of which are present within hooves. It is also vital for the structural integrity of collagen and elastin found in bone and blood vessel, and the formation of sulphur bonds in keratin.
Additionally, copper has immunity and antioxidant activity which helps to protect cell membranes. Copper helps promote hoof strength and structure, both inside and out, with deficiency being linked to several hoof pathologies. Copper is essential for hoof function and performance and is included in both FormaHoof Nutritional Supplements at an optimal rate to support and promote all round hoof health and integrity.
Like copper, Zinc has many important roles in hoof strength and function. This essential mineral is involved in the synthesis of collagen, keratins, keratin-associated proteins, cell-envelope proteins, and the intercellular cementing substance lipoprotein, all of which are integral to optimum hoof structure Zinc is also needed for cell reproduction, maintenance, and repair within external and internal layers of hoof walls, as well as blood vessels, making it vital for a fully functioning, strong and healthy hoof. FormaHoof HoofRehab and FormaHoof SportHoof Nutritional supplements deliver easily absorbed chelated Zinc at optimal levels which reflect the needs of leisure and sport horses.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
An important part of hoof structure and integrity, Omega 3 Fatty acids also support immunity, helping to prevent disease, protect joints and ligaments and support overall hoof quality. Omega 3 fatty acids help promote a healthy moisture balance within the hoof and help prevent troublesome microbes from getting in through the hoof wall. Additionally, Omega 3 fatty acids have potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for supporting conditions like laminitis and arthritis. FormaHoof HoofRehab and FormaHoof SportHoof Nutritional supplements contain a linseed meal base rich in Omega 3 fatty acids to promote improved hoof strength, growth, and flexibility.
A healthy microbiome is essential to healthy hooves because beneficial microbes in your horse’s hindgut produce Biotin and other key B vitamins for hoof health like Niacin through fibre fermentation and help support immunity.
Formahoof’s HoofRehab and SportHoof Nutritional Supplements supply Brewer’s yeast containing yea-sacc (saccharomyces cerevisae) at scientifically proven levels (15g). Yea-sacc has well-researched benefits for equine microbial and digestive health, from improved fibre digestibility to stimulation of beneficial hindgut microbes and maintaining healthy pH levels within the hindgut. We believe the addition of yea-sacc to stimulate, support and nurture healthy hindgut microbes, is vital because healthy microbes are intrinsically linked to healthier hooves.
Additionally, Brewer’s yeast contains amino acids, B vitamins and has a prebiotic effect on beneficial gut microbes. This helps further maintain a healthy microbiome and further boost immunity, which is important for overall health and to support recovery from conditions like laminitis.
Manganese plays a larger role in the internal structure of the foot, rather than the hoof wall, which means it helps build healthy hooves from within for optimal structure. Manganese is important in the formation, maintenance, and repair of hoof cartilage and skeletal bones within the hoof. Additionally, Manganese works as a superoxide antioxidant, helping to decrease free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. We have included manganese within the FormaHoof SportHoof nutritional supplement to address the increased nutrient needs of performance horses and help protect their hooves against oxidative damage from harder work.
Methyl Sulphonyl Methane provides a bioavailable source of organic sulphur needed for the formation of sulphur containing compounds such as biotin. Sulphur is also needed for the formation of disulphide cross linkages that strengthen keratin, the main part of hoof horn structure. The inclusion of MSM in FormaHoof SportHoof helps meet the increased demands of harder work to support optimal hoof strength, health, and integrity in performance horses.
Vitamin E is a potent anti-oxidant which helps to scavenge free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. Horses and ponies in higher levels of work have an increased need for Vitamin E to help protect and maintain healthy cells and tissues, including those within the hoof, including cell membranes within the hoof capsule itself. Generous levels of Vitamin E are included within FormaHoof SportHoof Nutritional Supplement, to help strengthen and protect hard working hooves for optimal health and performance.
Healthy Hooves From The Inside Out.
FormaHoof HoofRehab and FormaHoof SportHoof Nutritional supplements have a specification similar to a Balancer. However, unlike a balancer which provides a broader spectrum of nutrients, FormaHoof HoofRehab, and FormaHoof SportHoof supply key micronutrients which are uniquely targeted to support and nurture healthier hooves. Due to a shared requirement for key micronutrients and the omega 3 included, both supplements will also help promote good coat and skin health for overall bloom.
We believe supplying balanced, targeted nutrition through FormaHoof HoofRehab or FormaHoof SportHoof, together with the care and support of FormaHoof itself, is the perfect combination to build the healthiest hooves for optimum, strength, function, and performance – whatever your horse turns them to.
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