News

10th May 2019

NEW HOOF FEED SUPPLEMENT FROM THE EQUINE AMERICA STABLE

NEW HOOF FEED SUPPLEMENT FROM THE EQUINE AMERICA STABLE

Designed by Equine America's expert nutritionists, Equine America have launched a specialist hoof feed supplement, Farriers Choice Concentrated Hoof Formula. Supplied in pellet form, like the similar product Farriers Formula Double Concentrate, Farriers Choice Concentrated Hoof Formula is currently available in 5 kg buckets.

Providing key nutrients, amino acids, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, the supplement supplies everything necessary for the building of strong hoof capsule connective tissue.

Feeding Farriers Choice Concentrated Hoof Formula will promote strong and fast growth of the hoof wall, sole and frog and will help to grow out hoof cracks. With probiotic yeast included in the formula, it will also help portect against intestinal problems.

The 5 kg bucket represents a 62-day supply based on a daily dose of 80g for an average horse of 500 kg, equivalent to the competing product.

Farriers Choice Concentrated Hoof Formula is doping-free and suitable for use for competition horses in all disciplines.

The product is launched with a special buy one, buy a second at half-price promotion. The single 5 kg bucket costs £58.50.

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3rd January 2019

Hoof Boots and Their Use in Competition

Hoof Boots and Their Use in Competition

With a rise in hoof boot popularity, increasing numbers of venues are beginning to allow the use of hoof boots in unaffiliated competition. Currently, competitions run under British Eventing (BE), British Show Jumping (BS) and British Dressage (BD) rules do not allow the use of hoof boots, therefore you cannot compete at affiliated events in boots.

Endurance competitions are the most common events where the use of hoof boots is accepted. Many endurance riders will carry a single hoof boot as a spare tyre so that in the event of a pulled shoe the boot can be fitted immediately, allowing the rider to continue safely. Alternatively, boots may be used on barefoot horses to protect their hooves from the rough, uneven terrain during the ride.

Unaffiliated competitions are often run with their own rules. Some venues will stick to BE, BS and BD rules and others are more flexible.  There are many venues and clubs which do allow the use of hoof boots at their unaffiliated events in the UK.

 

Can I Warm Up in Hoof Boots?

Yes, you can warm up in hoof boots and this includes at affiliated competitions but you will have to remove them before entering the ring. This can be particularly beneficial for protecting the hooves when moving between arenas, especially if the venue has stony terrain.

 

What Action Should I Take if I Wish to Compete in Hoof Boots?

To avoid being penalized or asked to remove your hoof boots at a competition, we advise contacting the venue or event organisers prior to entering the class. If there is a specific reason for using boots, for example a recovering hoof injury, it would be helpful to explain why.

Why Compete in Hoof Boots?

Hoof boots provide protection to the hooves and will have a dampening effect on concussive forces. They also offer many additional benefits such as protection against excessive wear on sandy surfaces, being able to compete during the transitional phase from shod to barefoot, and protect hooves on varying terrain when competing in cross country.

Some riders could be hacking to an event and need boots for the journey.  Some venues have stony car parks where you may wish to keep your horse booted in order to protect the hooves from potential bruising. 

Occasionally there might be a situation where a horse is recovering from an injury where boots would help prevent dirt or debris entering the wound.

  

 Which Disciplines Can You Compete in Wearing Hoof Boots (UK)?

Endurance is the main discipline where the use of hoof boots is accepted. Eventing and jumping competitions also allow the use of boots however, dressage (including the dressage phase in eventing) do not always accept the use of boots. Hoof boots are not permitted in showing classes.

Some of our local venues allow for hoof boots to be used, these include:

  • Keysoe Equestrian Centre (Unaffiliated jumping and XC but not Dressage classes)
  • Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre (Unafflilated show jumping)
  • Weston Lawns Equitation (Unaffilated competitions)
  • Rockingham Forest Riding Club (At club level events but not qualifiers)

  

Our Top Picks:

Equine Fusion Active                                        Equine Fusion All Terrain Ultra

Image result for equine fusion active bootImage result for equine fusion ultra boot

Cavallo Trek                                                               Scoot Boot

        Image result for scoot boot

Swiss Galoppers

Image result for swiss galoppers

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13th December 2018

The Importance Of Winter Hoof Care

The Importance Of Winter Hoof Care

During the hotter summer season many people maintain a good hoof care routine, to help keep hooves moisturized and prevent damage due to hard ground conditions and dry weather. However, did you know it is just as important to maintain a good hoof care routine over the dark, cold winter months?

Obvious hoof care and maintenance routines stay in place such as picking the hooves out daily, ensuring the farrier visits regularly and continued use of a hoof supplement. However, there are other hoof care routines which should be in place to maintain optimum hoof health.

Cold weather affects the circulation in the hoof. In cold weather conditions the circulation decreases, this means that hoof growth and repair also decrease. Horse’s with a history of laminitis can be affected more by this as they can have pre-existing damage to the vascular supply within the hoof.

 

Wet Weather

An increase in wet, damp weather conditions can wreak havoc on hooves and lower limbs. The amount of natural wear will decrease during the winter due to the soft, wet ground, this can contribute to uneven wear and unbalanced hooves. The frog may also shed dead skin and the callus of the hoof can shed due to the increase of moisture. Thrush infections may also develop in excessively wet conditions as bacteria like damp, warm environments, such as up the sides of the frog.  Minimizing moisture levels during the winter is important for all round hoof health.

If the horse is shod, shoes should be checked daily for any looseness or damaged/missing nails. Thick, deep mud can cause shoes to become loose or come off altogether. It is important to check shoes thoroughly to help prevent injury or lameness. If shoes become loose dirt and debris can become trapped between the shoe and the hoof, this can lead to infection.

Horses can be turned out in hoof boots to help protect the sole and frog, boots can also be used as a spare tire if a horse loses a shoe. Boots should only be used as a temporary measure, especially as some types of boots could rub or cause irritation to the skin if left on for too long when wet. Boots should be dried thoroughly between uses.

 

Cold Weather

Cold weather can mean the paddocks freeze, this can cause the ground to become extremely hard and result in bruising to the soles of the horse’s feet. Hoof hardeners can be used on the soles of the hooves in order to help reduce the risk of bruising and hoof boots can be used where applicable to aid with comfort on uneven, hard ground. Wet ground may also freeze and become slippery. Rock salt can be used to defrost the ice on the ground or sand can be used to aid with traction.

Snow can also provide some problems for horse owners, usually in the form of balls of ice in the horse’s hooves. Barefoot horses rarely suffer from this occurring however shod horses are prone to collecting snowballs. These balls of ice and snow can cause problems such as bruising, discomfort and tendon and ligament damage. Hoof oils can be painted on the soles of the feet to try and help avoid balls from occurring or pads can be applied by a farrier. Alternatively hoof boots can be worn to protect the hooves. If the balling persists turnout should be limited to prevent injury.

 

Stabling

 

 

 Stabling at night is great way to protect your horse’s hooves. Bringing the horse in out of the damp conditions will give the hooves and legs a chance to dry Bedding such as shavings is great for wicking away and absorbing moisture to aid the drying process. The bed should be kept clean and dry, this will provide the best conditions for optimum hoof health. Dirty and damp bedding can contribute to bacterial and fungal infections such as thrush. Horses with hoof problems are best stabled at night when it is coldest. A thick bed will provide warmth and protection. Products such as sole paint can be applied when bringing in to help prevent bacterial and fungal invasion, this is particularly useful for mucky horses. 

Before stabling the horse, excessive mud can be removed with a damp sponge. Sponging the legs and drying them with a towel will help to keep them clean, especially at times when the horse may need to wear protective boots. This is personal preference as some horse owners dislike washing legs as too much moisture can contribute to lower limb infections such as mud fever, mud can be left to dry then brushed off with a stiff brush to avoid excessive use of water on the legs. Read more on the prevention and treatment of mud fever here. 

 

 

 

Topical Treatments

There are many topical treatments available on the market. It is important to chose the right ones for your horse and the time of the year.

There are 4 main types of hoof treatment:

Drying – These products are hardeners and can be used to strengthen the hoof.

Lotions – These products are used to moisturize the hoof during dry conditions.

Oil Based – These products can be used to trap moisture or to prevent moisture from entering.

Anti-Bacterial/Anti-Fungal – These products are used to treat infection and bacterial invasions.

During winter the ideal hoof ointment is oil based. When applied to clean, dry hooves it will help to prevent excessive moisture levels from contributing to damaging the hooves. It can also be used to help prevent moisture from entering holes such as nail holes or cracks. Many oil-based products also contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, making them an ideal solution for preventing infection at the same time. Lotion based hoof products are designed to moisturized the hooves, therefore they are best used in the summer when hooves are too dry.

Drying products are good for strengthening the hoof when an increase in moisture has caused it to become soft. Hoof hardeners applied to the sole will aid with the prevention of bruising on hard ground as the hoof will become tougher and more resilient.

Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal treatments can be used to treat hoof infections such as thrush or infection of the white line. Alternatively, they can be used as a preventative measure. Sprays consisting of natural ingredients are a popular choice as they are quick and easy to apply, they will also not damage any sensitive structures and healthy tissue. When an infection is present, stronger, longer lasting products may be required such as Anti-Bac, Field Paste or Thrush Stop.

 

Our Top Picks for Hoof Care This Winter

Drying Treatments

The damp weather can cause hooves to become too soft, the use of a drying treatment over winter is recommended to help maintain a strong structure and help prevent bruising or soreness from hard ground during cold, frozen periods.

We Recommend Using:

 

Keratex Hoof Hardener

Image result for keratex hardener

  • Scientifically proven to harden and strengthen the hooves.
  • With a unique flexing agent, the formula cross links the keratin and proteins in the hoof in order to create a stronger horn structure.
  • To be applied to the horn and sole but not the frog or coronary band.

 

Equitech Hoof’s Tuff

Image result for equitechs hooves tuff

  • Gel formula designed to help harden hooves.
  • Formula cross links the damaged and swollen keratin tubules of the horn.
  • Contains natural antibacterial agents which will help minimize hoof destroying microbes.

 

Red Horse Products Stronghorn

Image result for red horse stronghorn online equine

  • Nourishes and toughens horn tissue using all-natural ingredients.
  • Contains powerful disinfectant.
  • Easy to use spray bottle, making application quick and easy.

 

Oil Based Products

During dry periods oil-based products can be used to trap moisture in and hydrate the hooves however, in cold winter months they are ideal for use as a water repelling barrier. During wet periods the application of oil-based hoof products to dry hooves will help to stop the hooves becoming excessively wet which could lead to softening of the horn.

 

Red Horse Products HydroHoof

Image result for red horse hydrohoof online equine

  • Designed to balance moisture levels within the hoof.
  • Formulation prevents excessive moisture absorption and only allows the hoof to absorb as much moisture it requires.
  • Helps to prevent the hoof becoming soft and soggy during wet conditions.
  • Contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to protect the hoof.

 

Keratex Coconut Oil Hoof Balm

Image result for keratex coconut oil hoof balm

  • Oil-based balm contains natural oils and waxes.
  • Used to form a protective barrier to provide water resistance to the hooves.
  • Should be applied to dry hooves.
  • Provides nourishment for hooves and is a breathable formula.

 

Carr & Day & Martin Daily Hoof Barrier

Image result for carr day martin hoof barrier

  • A one-way barrier for protecting the hoof from excessive absorption of water and urine.
  • Breathable formula.
  • Contains anti-bacterial agents.
  • Should be applied to dry hooves and is ideal for daily use.
  • Helps to prevent hooves becoming soft and crumbly in wet weather.

 

Kevin Bacons Hoof Dressing 

Image result for kevin bacons hoof

  • Penetrates deep into the hoof to provide maximum nourishment.
  • Helps to maintain moisture levels within the hoof and prevent drying out.
  • Protects the hoof from dampness and provides a water-resistant barrier.
  • Promotes horn growth.
  • Liquid formula also available which doesn’t harden in cold temperatures.

 

Silverfeet

Image result for silverfeet

  • Suitable for daily use
  • A unique blend of natural ingredients with added silver.
  • The addition of silver prevents the growth of hoof bacteria and fungi within just hours of application.
  • The formula moisturizes and conditions hooves.
  • Antimicrobial properties make it suitable for preventing hoof infections and it can be used to treat minor infections.

 

Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal Treatments

 

Swan Anti-Bac

Image result for swan antibac

  • Recommended and used by farriers.
  • Ideal for hoof diseases such as Seedy Toe, White Line Disease and Thrush.
  • Anti-bacterial and Anti-Fungal for the maintenance of healthy feet.
  • A popular choice for treating stubborn or reoccurring infections. 
  • Easy to apply liquid formula penetrates deep into crevasses of the hoof.

 

Amberley Aromatics Essential Hoof Spray

  • Made from 100% natural ingredients.
  • High levels of neem and other essential oils with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • The spray is very effective as a preventative measure against thrush and other bacterial or fungal infections of the hoof.
  • Eliminates bacteria and fungi in order to maintain optimum hoof health.
  • Quick and easy application in the form of a spray.

 

Red Horse Products Sole Cleanse, Sole Paint and Sole Cleanse

Sole Cleanse: Thrush busting spray made from all-natural ingredients. Helps to promote the regrowth of healthy tissue and eliminates bacteria and fungi from crevices in the hooves. Great for flushing holes and cracks. Designed to be used as a preventative against hoof bacteria and infection the spray is easy and quick to apply.

Sole Paint: A paste containing a stronger percentage of active ingredients than Sole Cleanse. It is ultimately designed for use during periods of stabling and is easier to apply than Field Paste, but not as effective if used on solely field kept horses due to the consistency.

Field Paste: Much thicker formula and contains an even stronger percentage of active ingredients than Sole Paint. It is designed for use in field kept horses. If the horse is kept partly stabled this can be used but a thinner layer should be applied.

SBS Thrush Stop

Image result for sbs thrush stop

  • Creates an antiseptic barrier which prevents thrush from getting to healthy tissue.
  • The formula bonds to healthy proteins and will not interfere with new horn growth.
  • Product is safe to use.
  • A popular choice against stubborn or re-occurring infections.
  • The blue version has an added fungicide for the treatment of bacterial and fungal hoof infection.
  • An easy to apply gel formula makes application quick as the product doesn’t run.

 

Whatever the weather this winter, ensure you're prepared with our extensive range of Topical Hoof Treatments! A good hoof care routine is vital for maintaining healthy hooves year round.

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16th November 2018

Give Laminitis the Boot!

Laminitis is a condition in horses, which affects the sensitive laminae of the hoof. It causes the laminae to weaken, become inflamed (1) and in severe cases tear, this can lead to the rotation or dropping of the pedal bone. Laminitis can be extremely painful and contribute to lameness in horses. There are many reasons why laminitis can occur, these include but aren’t limited to; obesity, diets high in sugar and starch, the use of steroids, hormonal imbalance and mechanical trauma or toxaemia.

 Image result for laminitis hoof

 Image result for laminitis hoof

 

Causes of Laminitis

Modern day management has resulted in horses being kept on lush, rich pasture. Rich pastures have a high sugar content however there are different types of sugar in grasses. Glucose and fructose are simple sugars and digested in the stomach of the horse but fructans, another type of sugar made of several fructose molecules bonded together, cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes in the stomach and therefore passes into the hind gut. Fructans alter the pH balance, causing the production of lactic acid to increase and triggers an inflammatory response (2, 3). This is a common trigger of laminitis in horses. Spring and Autumn see a seasonal spike in cases. Like Spring time laminitis where the grass has been dormant during the cold winter months, then grows quickly in a short period of time, Autumn causes similar problems. The warm days and cooler nights are ideal conditions for grass to begin growing again after becoming dormant during hot summer months. When the temperatures drop below 5 degrees the grass stops growing so the sugars produced through the day build up. Ultimately increasing the sugar content consumed by the horse through grazing.

In addition, feeding excessive amounts of concentrate feeds, especially those high in sugar and starch can result in an overload of soluble carbohydrate in the hind gut (3). This causes an imbalance in the microbial population, once again resulting in the production of lactic acid. When the acidity of the hind gut increases the walls become permeable, meaning nutrients leak out into the bloodstream. It is thought that when these nutrients reach the laminae, they can cause changes and damage resulting in laminitis.

Obesity is another factor, horses being fed excessive amounts of feed and lacking exercise can quickly become overweight or obese. Internal fat, particularly in the abdominal region is hormonally active (4), the excretions can cause an inflammatory response and can trigger changes within the hooves, leading to laminitis. Obesity puts additional pressure on the laminae of the hooves, this can also contribute to laminitis.

Laminitis is often a symptom of an underlying health condition. Horse’s can have health problems without showing any signs. The most common conditions are EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and Cushing’s Disease (PPID).

EMS can predispose horses to laminitis due to the obesity and insulin resistance linked with the condition (7).

PPID is a hormonal disease caused by changes in the pituitary gland. Horses with PPID don’t produce enough dopamine, in turn this causes the pituitary gland to release excessive amounts of hormones. Hormones are distributed around the body via the bloodstream, they are required to maintain and control various bodily functions. PPID causes an exaggerated insulin response, therefore when a horse with PPID eats feedstuffs with a high sugar content, high levels of insulin are released into the bloodstream. This insulin resistance is linked to laminitis (8).

Trauma, stress and illness can also contribute to episodes of laminitis, the condition is not caused by one factor but by a number of elements, which added together push the horse over the threshold. It is important to remember laminitis is not always caused by an underlying medical condition and veterinary advice should always be sought if your horse is displaying laminitic symptoms.

Hoof Boots for Laminitic Horses

 

When a horse is presented with laminitis, the common procedure is to limit feeding and put the animal on box rest. A thick bed is used to help provide some support to the soles of the hooves, comfort and relief. The horse would be kept on box rest until the lameness improves and the horse is comfortable enough to be introduced to restricted turnout or light exercise.

The use of hoof boots will help keep a laminitic horse comfortable during the healing process (5), boots will help to provide sole support and dampen the forces on the hooves as the horse moves around (6). The horse won’t need to be on constant box rest and can be kept on controlled turnout or be hand walked for short periods. Pads can be inserted inside the boots to provide further sole support and comfort to the horse. Benefits of using boots are; the horse can move around freely, increased blood circulation, improve the rate of healing and help prevent other problems related to box rest from arising, such as filled legs.

Comfort pads within hoof boots have been proven to stimulate the internal structures of the hoof, promoting good blood flow and the removal of toxins. All of which will improve the rate of healing. The use of boots is one of the most effective methods of managing hoof and lower limb related lameness.

 

Preventative Measures

 

Prevention is better than a cure, if your horse is susceptible to laminitis here are some tips to help prevent an outbreak:

  • Avoid prolonged turnout on rich pasture. Fructan levels in the grass vary throughout the day, they are at their highest at sunset. 
  • Soak hay to reduce the nutritional value, especially the sugar and starch content.
  • Pay attention to your horse’s weight, obese horses are at a higher risk.
  • Maintain good exercise regimes, horses in regular exercise are at a much lower risk.
  • Provide a high fibre diet, diets high in concentrates have a higher sugar and starch content.
  • Pay attention to the seasons. Particularly during Spring and Autumn.

If you suspect your horse is suffering from laminitis you should always contact your veterinarian for advice and appropriate treatment.

 

Our Top Picks for Therapeutic Hoof Boots

Equine Fusion All Terrain

Image result for equine fusion all terrain

-Benefits-

 

  • Ideal boot for turnout these boots have been built to be robust and can also be used for riding (including jumping and cross country)
  • Lightweight and flexible.
  • Rubber soles are soft and comfortable, allowing the hoof to sink into them and providing a dampening effect to external pressures.
  • Can add extra pads for further comfort.
  • Standard sole and slim sole available.

Easyboot Cloud

-Benefits-

  • Designed specifically for laminitis and hoof injury.
  • Extremely comfortable with replaceable Cloud Insert Pads.
  • Well-padded and comes with a pair of pads.
  • For use in stable and light, restricted turnout.

Easyboot Stratus

-Benefits-

  • Designed for hoof problems and injury.
  • Extra support available with thera-rod system and can be changed easily at any time.
  • Fully customizable for each individual horse.
  • Comfortable with gel pads for protection to soles.
  • Features a heel lock system to prevent twisting.
  • For use in stable and light, restricted turnout.

Easyboot RX

Image result for rx hoof boot

-Benefits-

  • Therapy boot that offers comfort and support.
  • Lightweight
  •  Designed for hoof issues and injuries.
  •  Comes with 6mm comfort pads as standard, replacements and thicker 12mm pads available.
  • For use in the stable and light, restricted turnout.

 References

(1) https://www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk/laminitis

(2) https://www.j-evs.com/action/showFullTextImages?pii=S0737-0806%2815%2930018-6

(3) https://www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk/articles/laminitis-what-it-is-and-how-to-avoid-it

(4) https://www.topspec.com/laminitis-technical-update-from-topspec/laminitis.pdf

(5) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0737080613006370 

(6) http://eqfusion.com/key-features-testing-summary/

(7) https://liphookequinehospital.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/equine-metabolic-syndrome.pdf

(8) https://www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk/ppid

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23rd October 2018

Feeding For Optimum Hoof Health

 

Poor Hoof Quality?

Did you know poor hoof quality can be caused by many factors, including genetics, farrier care, environment and nutrition? Luckily, nutrition is easily managed and can be used to significantly improve the hoof condition of all horses. Many common hoof problems can be indications of an inadequate diet; particular kind of hoof issues observed may actually indicate where dietary nutrition is lacking. It is important to remember that there is no single dietary component responsible for healthy, strong hooves and that good hooves are the result of a balanced diet. Don’t forget, once your horse is on a solid diet, it takes time for hoof tissue to change and grow. Often it will be six to nine months before changes are noticeable as only the new hoof tissue growing from the coronary band will be improved.

 

 

Understanding the Structure of the Hoof

The best way to develop healthy, strong, new hoof growth when assessing the diet, is to understand the relevant factors that make up the hoof.  Most owners go straight to a Biotin supplement because of its relevance with hoof structure, however Biotin on its own won’t fully correct hoof issues. This is due to the hooves requiring a complex nutrient balance for optimum quality. Hoof formation is a very complex, biological process which can be broken down into the following subcategories in regards to feeding: Protein, Glucose, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals.

The image below, from Lindsay Field, shows the complex internal hoof structure of the horse.

 

 

Protein

The hoof wall largely consists of protein. Amino acids link together to form different proteins, some of which are synthesised by the body, others are provided in the diet. The two most important proteins in relation to hoof health include; lysine and methionine.

Lysine – The primary limiting amino acid.

Once all of the available lysine has been used up within the body, protein synthesis stops. No matter how many other amino acids are available, if all the lysine has been used, protein synthesis cannot happen. Lysine deficiency is a common problem within horses, especially those fed a high cereal diet. Lysine deficiency can result in, restricted growth, thus contributing to poor feet.

Methionine – The secondary limiting amino acid.

Methionine is unique as it contains sulphur. Sulphur is vital for hoof health because of the keratin in the hooves is very high in sulphur. The sulphur within keratin forms cross-linked bonds which bind the fibres of the hoof wall together. A deficiency in methionine causes poor hoof growth and a weakened structure.

 

Glucose

Did you know the hoof has special energy requirements? Being highly metabolically active, hoof tissue consumes glucose. The lamellar tissue of the hoof requires glucose for it to act as a “glue” holding the layers of the hoof together. Most horses receive enough energy to support healthy hoof function, however many horses are overweight, meaning they consume more calories than their bodies require. Additional stresses on the hooves caused by the increase of weight-bearing forces in obese horses can cause poor, cracked feet. It is important to remember that the correct balance of nutrients is vital for healthy hoof growth, overfeeding will not correct the feet and overweight horses are more susceptible to other health concerns and problems related to metabolic illnesses such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), Cushing’s disease and insulin resistance, resulting in inflammation of the hoof tissue and laminitis. It is important to note these conditions can be managed with the diet.

The image below, courtesy of Mark Johnson, shows a hoof belonging to a horse with EMS. The hoof is very pink and tender, resulting in the horse having sensitive feet and discomfort.

 

This image shows the structure of the internal lamellar tissue if the hoof, this tissue resembles the underside of a mushroom and acts as the “glue” which holds the hoof together.

 

Fats

Fat plays a very important role, it is the cement which holds cells together. It forms protective seals which help to control moisture levels within the hoof. Fat does this by keeping moisture from the external environment out of the hoof and preventing moisture within the internal structures from escaping, a vital feature for hoof hydration. Omega-3 and fatty acids have been shown to improve the quality of hoof and hair along with having anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Vitamins & Minerals

Minerals are essential to the diet as they support every biomechanical process.  There are two groups of minerals:

Macrominerals – fed in larger quantities.

Microminerals – fed in smaller quantities.

One macro mineral vital for hoof health is calcium. Calcium is needed to support the enzymatic reaction responsible for the production of cross-linked bonds, to link keratin proteins within the hoof.  Calcium levels need to be balanced with phosphorus, too much phosphorus can limit calcium absorption, resulting in deficiencies.  

Copper and zinc are two microminerals, linked to healthy hooves.  Zinc promotes healthy skin, hair and hoof growth, while copper increases the strength of the hoof wall. These need to be fed in balance with one another to prevent deficiencies.

Selenium is an antioxidant necessary for good, healthy cell reproduction. It works well with vitamin E to support the immune system. The majority of concentrate horse feeds are supplemented with selenium. However, too high amounts can lead to severe cracking of the hooves around the coronary band and contribute to laminitis.

Magnesium, not only is this macromineral essential for brain and nerve function, it is vital for hair and horn growth. Often used to help calm horses suffering from anxiety or nervousness, magnesium is also required for protein synthesis for general growth and repair of tissue. Evidence suggests magnesium may play a role in managing insulin resistance and EMS. A boost of magnesium may help with reducing the risk of laminitis due to the maintenance properties for blood circulation within the body, limbs and hooves.  

Most vitamins can be made by the horse, there is the exception of vitamin A and vitamin E. Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of the integrity of healthy skin and keratin. These vitamins must be provided in the horse’s diet.

Healthy hooves.

 

 

Supplements for Hoof Growth

There are a variety of hoof-based supplements available on the market, one of the most popular supplements to feed is Biotin, readily available at most tack shops with a cheap price tag. Biotin is a B vitamin horses produce naturally during the fermentation of forages in the hind gut. However, it may not be produced in sufficient amounts or easily absorbed by the horse. Consistent use of a biotin supplement in the diet can lead to stronger hooves, less susceptible to damage. Horses which are deficient in biotin may have soft white lines and hooves which are weak and crumble or crack. Despite the use of biotin having a positive effect on the hooves, there are much better supplements on the market, these have been formulated with all of the key nutrients required for healthy hooves.  

The photos below from Charlie Piccioni show new horn growth after addressing the diet and feeding a balanced mineral mix. The new hoof is growing down from the coronary band, there is a clear difference between the new, stronger, healthier hoof growth, and the previous weaker, unhealthy hoof.

 

 

 

Formula 4 Feet

Formula 4 Feet is one of the leading supplements for promoting healthy hoof growth and strength. With an increase in the use of GM ingredients in equine feeds and supplements, Formula 4 Feet avoids the use of these materials due to the lack of research into the effects, making it one of the safest supplements available. Manufactured in the UK and sold worldwide, Formula 4 feet is tested free of any prohibited substances which would result in a positive dope test under FEI and Jockey Club rules.

The supplement is in a highly palatable, pelleted form and provides the horse with over 65 micronutrients, including 13 vitamins, 18 amino acids, 16 minerals, 4 antioxidants and essential fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and calcium in balance for optimized horse health. With added tyrosine and iodine, when combined form thyroxine, the thyroid hormone necessary for optimal energy metabolism and a healthy coat.

There is no added selenium due to the detrimental effects of excess selenium in the diet. Formula 4 Feet is a very well-rounded, low calorie supplement, it not only benefits new hoof growth but will also provide some benefits to the joints and coat quality.

Image result for formula for feet

Farriers Formula

Farrier’s Formula is doping free and safe for use in competition horses. This dietary supplement has been formulated to help resolve hoof structure issues such as cracking, brittle hoof walls and hoof wall separation. It will help reduce the risk of white line disease, crumbling horn and aid horses with thin soles which may be prone to bruising. It has also been shown to aid the cohesive bond between the outer hoof wall and coffin bone after damage caused by laminitis. Farrier’s Formula is packed with the essential nutrients required for building strong connective tissues within the hoof capsule. With the addition of Farrier’s Formula in the diet, new hoof growth of the wall, sole, frog and heel will be stronger and healthier.

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Red Horse Products – Magnesium Oxide

This supplement from Red Horse Products contains Magnesium Oxide. Not only will it aid nervous horses by acting as a calmer, it contributes to healthy hooves by improving the hair and horn growth. Magnesium oxide from Red Horse Products provides a readily absorbable source of magnesium. It is often deficient within grazing pastures and not supplemented enough in all concentrate feeds. A magnesium oxide supplement has approximately a 50% absorption rate, however the advantage of using it is that if there is no deficiency the body won’t absorb the excess, meaning an overdose is highly unlikely. Magnesium Oxide can help reduce the risk of laminitis because it helps re-balance the areas of the diet with low-magnesium while also combating fat deposition in overweight horses, in particular “cresty necks”. The circulatory support from magnesium aids with the prevention of abnormal constriction of the blood vessels, thus helping reduce vascular deficiency in the extremities.

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Conclusion

To conclude, hoof formation is a highly complex biological process. In order to correct poor hooves, the diet as a whole should be addressed. There is not one element which works independently to develop strong, healthy hooves. Adding more of one particular nutrient may not be of any benefit and may actually have a negative effect if given in excess. Good quality forage will provide the horse with the majority of nutrients needed, an additional balancer or multi-vitamin may be needed alongside. To quickly improve hoof quality a specially formulated supplement can be added to the diet such as Formula 4 Feet or Farrier’s Formula.  New hoof growth takes time, already existing hoof won’t be altered by dietary adjustment.

   

 

Hoof Photos Courtesy of Mark Johnson (Farrier)

&

Lindsay Field (Clinical Researcher)

&

Charlie Piccioni (Hoof Trimmer)

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9th October 2018

Does My Horse Need Hoof Boots? Equine Fusion and Your Horse Live 2018

Does My Horse Need Hoof Boots? Equine Fusion and Your Horse Live 2018

Here at Online Equine we have teamed up with Equine Fusion to attend this year’s Your Horse Live!

Equine Fusion are a market leader in hoof boots with their All-Terrain, Active and 24/7 Jogging Shoes. On the stand we will have their full range of hoof boots to view and purchase, along with providing help and advice related to the equine hoof, problems and hoof boots.

With a rise in barefoot horses, hoof boots are proving to be an essential addition to the barefoot owner’s inventory, they are a healthy alternative to shoeing and provide essential hoof protection without damaging or interfering with the hoof’s natural structure. Hoof boots also play a vital role in therapeutic uses as they provide comfort and protection to sore, damaged and unhealthy hooves, assist the recovery period for a multitude of problems and injuries including; laminitis, abscesses, bruised soles and navicular.

So, whether you’re a seasoned hoof boot user or are completely new to them, swing by stand #346!

In the meantime, keep reading below to find out more about these innovative boots, sweeping the equine community!

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Why would a barefoot horse need protection?

The domestication of horses has had a huge impact on their hooves. The environment differs significantly to the horse’s natural environment, in turn contributing to the weakening of the hooves. Wild horses move continuously, covering an average of 26 miles a day over varied terrains, not only does this wear the hooves down naturally, it stimulates and builds up the strength of the internal structures of the hoof. Modern care practices limit the horse’s movement, for instance, stabling, restricted turnout and lack of grazing land. These modern practices benefit us but in reality, don’t benefit our horses’ hooves.

Secondly, diet is another huge factor, concentrate feeds and high-quality forage contain a much higher sugar content than the roughage horses are designed to eat. The evolution process hasn’t adapted to metabolize these sugars effectively and in turn the by-products have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the hooves.

Another huge factor is the practice of shoeing. Shoeing became popular in Europe around 1000 AD, traditionally the practice was used to protect the horse’s feet from man-made roads and to allow the horse to travel faster over varied terrain. Naturally horse’s move slowly however domestication required them to travel faster. The practice of shoeing can weaken the hoof and has been found to contribute to long-term damage and weakness to the internal structures of the hoof if done incorrectly. However, this is not to say it doesn’t play an important role in balancing, correcting conformational issues and protecting the hooves.

Lastly, genetics play a huge role in healthy hooves. Selective breeding has contributed to the weakening of hooves over extended periods of time, this is because we have practices in place to ‘fix’ conformational and hoof related issues. Studies have shown that genetics do play a role in hoof strength and structure. Good genetic hoof make-up has been ignored over the years and shoeing has been used to help with this problem, in reality the practice of shoeing has covered up the long-term genetic damage.

 

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From Shod to Barefoot

More and more horse owners are seeing the benefits of going barefoot with their horses. Nailing on shoes every 6 weeks can be tedious, especially with some horses who are prone to throwing shoes. Shoeing can be expensive and good farriers are few and far between. However, on the removal of shoes it’s likely the horse will be sore footed and uncomfortable, many have their shoes put back on because the process from shod to barefoot is time consuming and uncomfortable. A barefoot trim is much different to a traditional shod trim, the farrier needs to ensure the shoe is going to go on flush, they can trim the hoof shorter than a barefoot would need to be, because they are replacing what is removed with a metal shoe. Therefore, on the removal of shoes the hoof will need time to rebuild, grow and become stronger. This is where hoof boots play an important role, they can be worn while the hooves are sore in order to protect the delicate soles from hard ground which can cause bruising. Hoof boots can aid in the process by helping prevent soundness issues from occurring, they also allow the horse to be turned out and exercised as normal while the hooves strengthen up over time.

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Hoof Boots for already barefoot horses?

Horses that are already barefoot with healthy, strong hooves can also benefit from using hoof boots, especially when being ridden or exercised. The hoof boots protect the hooves from excessive wear when out riding on rough and rocky terrain, they also provide excellent grip and are great for horses doing a lot of hard work. The boots will also protect the hooves against foot soreness and bruising from particularly hard or rocky terrains. Extensive testing has been undertaken to ensure the best possible fit, a secure fit is of uttermost importance so the boots stay firmly in place during use, without hindering the horse’s way of going. The entirety of Equine Fusion’s range can be used for all riding disciplines including jumping and all-terrain riding, meaning they are a safe, secure option for the protection of your horse’s hooves, even during hard work.

 

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Hoof Boots for Lameness and Hoof Injury?

Another great use for hoof boots, is to use them when a horse is suffering from lameness caused by a lower limb injury or hoof injury, such as an abscess or laminitis. The hoof boots provide a soft, comfortable layer which promotes natural hoof function and blood flow. The hoof is protected from the external environment, hard surfaces and potential infection caused from bacteria entering a wound.  Using hoof boots to aid recovery of a hoof injury will help to keep the horse comfortable and moving, preventing long periods of box rest, filled legs, and other problems associated with stabling. Horse welfare is improved greatly with the use of boots, detrimental behavioral issues can develop due to box rest, horses can become agitated at the lack of movement. Using hoof boots can help by keeping the horse comfortable at turnout despite having lower limb soundness issues.

Research

Ongoing research into the use of hoof boots shows positive results in reducing the concussive forces on the hoof and lower limb. Equine Fusion conducted a study in 2016 to look at the dampening effect of hoof boots and a steel shoe. Their tests included 4 types of hoof boot and a device called the Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester (OBST) to measure 5 test objects on 3 different surfaces. Resulting in a direct comparison between each hoof boot and a metal horseshoe.

The test objects included:

  • Steel Horseshoe
  • All Terrain Jogging Shoe (rubber sole)
  • Ultimate Jogging Shoe (rubber sole)
  • Hoof Boot 1 (plastic sole)
  • Hoof Boot 2 (plastic sole)

All of the objects were the same or as close to the same size.

Surfaces used for testing included:

  • Gravel Road
  • Soft Arena Surface (sand)
  • Hard Arena Surface (rubber ground)

The results of this research proved that the rubber soled boots, from Equine Fusion, dampened the concussive forces on the hoof in comparison to plastic hoof boots and steel shoes. Especially on harder terrain.

 

 

Conclusion

Overall, it’s safe to say hoof boots play an important role in equine hoof health. New and innovative technology, hoof boots can replace traditional metal horse shoes and provide horses with suitable levels of protection and support for modern day activities, such as show jumping, cross country, dressage and endurance trail riding.  They play a vital role in hoof soundness during periods of lower limb injury or soreness, especially for horses and ponies suffering from conditions such as laminitis or navicular. For horse owners wanting to go barefoot, hoof boots can aid as a more holistic approach to hoof health as an alternative to metal shoes.

Check Out How to Measure for Hoof Boots Here! 

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2nd October 2018

Mud Fever – Prepare and Prevent

What is Mud Fever?

Mud fever is a bacterial infection caused by prolonged periods of time turned out in wet, abrasive soils and mud. The mud can cause the skin to soften, pores to open and small cracks or cuts may develop. Bacteria that enters these tiny abrasions can cause infection. The condition predominantly affects the lower legs of the horse, it can cause hair loss, localised soreness and in severe cases lameness.

Mud Fever

 

Identifying Mud Fever

Initial infection causes the skin on the hind of the horse’s pastern to become red and inflamed, the skin may appear more thickened as the infection begins to work up the leg. In most cases the lesions only go up to the fetlock however more severe cases it can be as high as the knee/hock. There may be some hair loss to the affected areas and crusts on the skin, however as the condition worsens these crusts will appear more pronounced, the leg may also have a wet, greasy look to it. This is because a serum will be oozing from the infected area. White, pussy discharge may also be present. As these discharges dry, they form hard crusts which harbour bacteria.

Mud Fever

 

Treating Mud Fever

In most cases box rest is required to effectively control the infection and keep the horse from standing in the wet mud.  Feathered horses will benefit from having their legs clipped in order to show the true extent of the infection, it will also allow the legs to breathe and dry faster. The bacteria responsible for mud fever are anaerobic, they cannot survive in oxygen, therefore the removal of scabs will allow oxygen to the infected areas. The area should be soaked in an antibacterial and antifungal disinfectant. The soaking process will cause the scabs to come away from the skin easily without force, afterwards the legs need to be dried thoroughly. To prevent damaging the skin or causing it to become dry it should only be soaked every 3-4 days however combined with the daily use of a topical antibacterial treatment the recovery process will be more effective. Severe cases may require veterinary attention, antibiotics and pain relief.

Prevention

Preventative measures should be undertaken during wet, muddy periods, to help stop an infection from occurring. There are many key ways to help prevent mud fever.

 

  • Try to limit periods of turnout in wet, muddy fields. Paddock rotation or the use of electric fencing can help to block off particularly muddy areas.
  • Don’t rinse mud from the horse’s legs where possible. The water will cause the skin to soften and become delicate, combined with abrasive materials such as sand, this will cause microscopic cuts on the skin for bacteria to enter. A better alternative is to wait until the mud has dried and brush it off.
  • Avoid using detergents as they can cause dryness, PH imbalance and strip away natural protective oils.
  • Apply topical mud barrier treatments routinely to dry, clean legs. Ideally this should be used as a preventative measure, application before the conditions for infection occur will help stop an infection from developing. Barrier treatments can only be applied if there is no infection present. Applying these products to an already infected leg may cause the bacteria to become locked in.
  • Consider types of bedding, soft, absorbent wood shavings won’t cause damage to fragile skin however more abrasive beddings such as straw could scratch the legs.
  • Ensure the fit of exercise boots are correct, if the boots rub they can cause lesions on the legs.
  • Occasionally there can be an underlying medical condition e.g. mites, Cushing’s disease, which may result in infection, especially if the immune system is hindered. The infection will be harder to resolve or unresolvable until the underlying condition has been addressed.

Our Go-To Mud Fever Treatments

To Help Prevent Infection

Keratex Mud Shield


Keratex Mud Shield Powder, the powdered formulation is designed to be sprinkled onto the horse’s legs and rubbed in, ideally use before mud fever occurs. The powder will form a resilient barrier which repels water and mud whilst allowing the skin to breathe, unlike traditional barrier creams, Mud Shield Powder doesn’t contribute to further softening of the skin by adding moisture. The texture of the powder makes the leg hairs silky and smooth, therefore mud cannot stick to it or the skin underneath. The powder has unique waterproofing properties to help prevent water from softening the skin, thus preventing mud particles from entering the pores of the skin, infection and irritation from occurring. Keratex Mud Shield Powder also thoroughly disinfects the skin where it is applied due to the product containing a powerful disinfectant.

 

To Help Treat Infection 

Mud stop

Equitech Mud Stop, a unique water activity control approach to the management of mud fever. Mud Stop is available in a topical spray or gel formula, designed to be applied 2-3 times daily. The formula is soothing and cleaning, to be applied to the scabs. Mud Stop will soften the scabs without adding more water, greases or oils. During the healing process these softened scabs will begin to fall off, continued use to prevent further infection will aid the recovery process and help to prevent secondary infection. Mud Stop is composed of humectant materials, these absorb water and control water activity. It can be purchased a spray on or gel formula.

 

 

Equitech Disinfectant Cream, with its highly unusual formulation, this cream contains virtually no water, oil or greases. Like Mud Stop it has been designed to control the water activity but contains a higher level of the surface-active ingredients. These ingredients are antibacterial disinfectants to keep the area clean and support the natural healing process. This cream is designed for use after the scabs have fallen off. Ideal application is twice daily to help prevent secondary infection by controlling the accumulation of debris and ensuring the affected areas are easy to clean, to make further removal of any hard scabs easier.

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27th September 2018

SPECIAL OFFER!

Vetquinol Aluspray

SPECIAL OFFER – Limited time only!

ONLY £11.50!

Aluspray is the perfect addition to your horse’s first aid kit. The powdered aluminium barrier is ideal for sensitive skin and wounds. The spray is in the form of a fine mist which ensures the wound is competely covered without further damage to any of the wounded tissue. Aluspray is breathable, meaning the wounded area is oxygenated in order to aid the healing process. The barrier provided will protect against dirt, bacteria, moisture and insects. With a weather resistant formula  for optimum longevity.

Perfect for use on cuts, grazes, mud fever and sarcoids. Aluspray boasts 5 star reviews.

To remove the spray, simply clean the area with warm soapy water.

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29th August 2018

NEW EasyBoot Stratus from EasyCare Inc!

NEW EasyBoot Stratus from EasyCare Inc!

Stratus Therapeutic Hoof Boot

The Stratus is a therapeutic hoof boot designed to provide comfort and support to horses with thin soles, abscesses and laminitis. The boot will provide instant and ongoing relief, along with helping to aid the recovery process.

What makes the Stratus different to the Cloud Boot?

The Stratus boot comes with EasyBoot’s adjustable TheraPad system, meaning each pad can be customized for the horse’s individual conditions. The TheraPad system consist of the pad and TheraRods. The rods come in 3 different densities, these can be inserted into the pad to provide more or firmer padding, the pad can also be used without inserting the rods.

The upper of the boot is made of premium leather, the boot features a padded collar to provide additional relief to the pastern area. Internally the boot consists of neoprene in the heel area and a “heel lock” system prevents the boot from twisting. There are three air vents on the boot, these provide air circulation and keep the hoof cool whilst preventing dirt and debris from entering the boot.

Each boot comes with one TheraPad and 15 TheraRods (5 rods per density). These boots can be used in conjunction with the Easycare Therapy Click System. This boot is intended for use during box rest and limited turnout.

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11th July 2018

Equine Fusion 24/7 Trial

Equine Fusion 24/7 Trial

Here at Online Equine we have recently asked some lucky candidiates to trial Equine Fusion's 24/7 Jogging Shoe! This shoe is a glue on version which means you dont need to put on/take off the shoes when you're using them. The application process takes minutes and the shoes typically last 6 weeks. Below are the results of our first trial:

 

Case Study

 Name: Dak

Breed: Thoroughbred

Workload: Medium

Boot size and fit: 12 Regular; not a perfect fit however slims were too narrow, very slight gapping.

Trial Length: 4 weeks

 

Dak was fitted with a pair of Equine Fusion 24/7 Jogging Shoes, the fit kit was used to assess his size and the best fit for him was the 12 regular. Due to the regulations in place in the UK owners cannot glue on hoof boots themselves and must use a qualified professional. The shape of his feet meant there was slight gapping with the regular fit boots; however the slim version were too narrow. The boots are designed to last the same length as a typical shoe cycle, approximately 6 weeks. Once Dak had his boots glued on his owner Laura provided us with feedback over the course of the trial.

 

Immediately she noticed that his movement in walk had improved, Laura informed us that Dak was much more relaxed when walking, whereas before the boots were fitted he appeared to be walking on eggshells, struggling especially on stony, hard and uneven ground. Laura also noted that before the boots were fitted, Dak would try to walk on the grass verge next to the track, but after receiving his boots he would happily walk down the stony track. Laura expressed her concerns of the back of the boots being low; this could potentially be caught by a horse that overreaches, resulting in the boot not lasting as long or possible loss of a boot. Overreach boots can be used with the Equine Fusion 24/7 shoes, to begin with Laura used a pair of overreach boots but soon decided she did not require them.

Over the course of the trial Laura mentioned everything was going well regarding the boots staying in place, Dak’s way of going was improved and he was no longer uptight and nervous about stepping onto stony, hard surfaces. Whilst out hacking Dak would stride out happily and easily, proving the boots were doing a good job at protecting his sensitive soles and ensuring he was more comfortable.

 

Unfortunately after 4 weeks, the trial was cut short after Dak lost one of his boots out hacking. His workload included a lot of cantering over hard and uneven surfaces, so it is believed he may have overreached and caught the boot. The boot came off cleanly, leaving no damage to his hoof. The fact the boots had slight gapping to begin with could have also contributed to the loss of a boot. Although he lost a boot it could have been re-applied to his hoof by the farrier. The other boot was then removed, again there was no damage to the hoof and the boot was in very good condition so could be re-applied. Another concern was that stones may enter through the hole in the sole of the shoe, despite having this concern there were no stones inside the shoe on removal. There was also nothing wedged in the rim of the shoe.

 

After the trial it was concluded that the Equine Fusion 24/7 Jogging Shoe is a safe, non-invasive solution for a horse with soft soles or a horse where the use of nails may have a detrimental impact on the integrity of the hoof wall, for example a horse with brittle hooves. The 24/7 shoe is economical as it can be re-used; although Dak lost one of his, this could have been because the fit of this particular brand was not right for him, or overreaching may have occurred, ultimately having the same impact as a shod horse which overreaches.

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