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Horses with Dry, Chipped Hooves: Management TipsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · June 26, 2015

If your horse’s hooves are dry, shelly, chipped, or dull, follow these tips to promote better hoof quality.

  • High-quality basic nutrition is the foundation of hoof health. Use a fully fortified feed that is designed for the class of horse you are feeding, and feed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and to desired body condition.
  • Hoof wall growth can be up to 50% greater in horses that are in positive energy balance than in those on restricted diets with reduced body growth rate. A horse in negative energy balance will utilize protein in the diet or body to make up energy needs for maintenance or growth. This may slow hoof development because the hoof wall is about 93% protein on a dry matter basis.
  • A regular schedule of hoof trimming for barefoot horses and resetting for shod horses should be followed. Farrier care every four to six weeks is sufficient for most horses. Letting horses go more than about six weeks without a trim is asking for trouble, as longer hooves tend to chip and split. Even if the hooves are not greatly overgrown, a light trim and smoothing can sometimes keep small cracks from progressing. While many idle and lightly used horses can go barefoot, shoeing will prevent excess wear on hooves that tend to chip and crack.
  • For many horses, supplementing with a product like Bio-Bloom PS (available in the U.S.) improves hoof growth and condition. Australian clients looking for a similar dietary supplement can use Bio-Bloom. Bio-Bloom PS provides biotin, methionine, iodine, and chelated zinc at levels shown to improve hoof growth, including development of strong hoof wall. Bio-Bloom PS also includes lecithin and essential fatty acids from full-fat soybean, ingredients that are necessary for production of resilient hoof horn and shiny coats.

Remember, building strong hooves takes at least six to twelve months, and nothing can speed this process. Be patient and follow a sound nutrition program, and results will follow in time.