Skip Navigation Links
About UsExpand About Us
ProductsExpand Products
ProgramsExpand Programs
LocationsExpand Locations
DivisionsExpand Divisions
Skip Navigation Links
  Skip Navigation Links  

Healthy hooves give horses a strong foundation

Kim Smith TFC Equine Specialist 9/1/2010

Architects who design skyscrapers want to make sure the foundation of the building can support the massive structure. Without a strong foundation, the building may crumble over time. The same is true when we consider a horse’s hoof. Hooves must withstand physical demands of weight-bearing and movement. As horse owners, most of us have heard the saying, “No hoof, no horse.” We are aware of many different problems that can occur with the horses’ hooves. Laminitis, thrush, navicular, toe cracks, club feet, and negative palmar angle are the few I have dealt with in my own horses through the years. Even though there are many different factors that play a role in hoof health, we can’t forget to look at nutrition to build a proper foundation.

One of the most important things you can do as a horse owner is to “pick out” your horse’s hooves. Removing dirt, manure, and especially any rocks is very important. Stone bruises can cause major lameness issues. A proactive approach can help ward off the threat. While cleaning the hooves, look for cracks, abscesses, or thrush, a bacterium that thrives in moist environments. For this reason, it is not recommended that horses stand in muddy conditions for a prolonged period. A strong odor accompanied by a black discharge may be a sign of thrush. If caught early, treatment can be effective, but untreated thrush may eat away at the frog of the foot.

It’s also important to schedule regular visits by a farrier, whether for a trim or to reset shoes. Although every six to eight weeks is normal, certain problems may require shorter lengths between visits. If you notice an issue while riding, be sure to let your farrier know before his appointment. It is important to keep an open line of communication and keep him updated with the condition of your horses’ hooves.

Providing horses with the best nutrition will help build good feet from the inside out. All Co-op Winner’s Cup horse feeds, when fed according to directions, provide the essential nutrients for overall horse health, well-being, and performance. Winner’s Cup feeds also contain certain amounts of supplemental biotin, zinc, copper, lysine, and methionine, all of which have been shown to promote hoof health and quality. Simply switching from an economy feed to a Winner’s Cup feed has shown improvement in hoof quality over time. Sometimes people choose to use a hoof supplement. Many are on the market, and some work better than others. Talk to your local Co-op equine specialist for recommendations.

While nutrition is important to hoof quality, a good exercise program should not be forgotten. Exercise increases circulation and promotes hoof growth.

If you have questions, you may reach me at 615-714-3202 or by e-mail at

Keeping Up
Market watch
National ag news
Career OpportunitiesCareer opportunities
Catalogs & brochures
Get in touch
Education & more
Programs & projects
What's New?
This document copyright © 2019 by Tennessee Farmers Cooperative. All rights reserved. Legal Notice