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21st century Hoof support


Horses evolved to run barefoot over rough ground and eat poor quality forage. A horse with poor feet would have been one of the first to be predated. Our modern horses are fed rich diets and often kept on the extremes of soft pasture and/or on concrete. Hoof problems are one of the biggest issues faced by owners.

There are many aspects to giving our ponies the perfect pedicure and many decisions to make, bare foot or shoes? What hoof oil to use? Something that regularly gets over looked is good nutrition! So what are the main nutrients for good quality hoofs?


There was a time when Biotin was promoted as the only important thing for good hooves. For a long time it was probably the only nutrient with some scientific support and as a result was marketed heavily. It may well help some horses and to leave it out of any broad spectrum supplement would perhaps be risky (certainly one with hooves or feet mentioned on the label!). However success can often be seen even when biotin levels are lowered. This begs the question was the biotin research that was carried out, done with diets that had no added methionine in them?


Methionine is an Essential Amino Acid, which simply means that animals like horses and humans can’t make it themselves – we have to eat it. Unfortunately for us animals, plant based proteins almost all contain a lot less methionine than we need so generally we are deficient in methionine – especially in the diets of herbivores like horses! There horses need to be supplemented with Methionine to product good hoof quality. This may be the most important nutrient to feed for any hoof (or moulting) supplement.

MSM (Organic Sulphur)

Methionine is an amino acid that contains sulphur. If you think there is a shortage of research on most minerals, look at Sulphur. There is not a lot of science! However the consensus is that horses get most of the sulphur they need by breaking down methionine (which we have already in short supply), so the modern trend to supplement with the organic sulphur source MSM probably has the dual benefits of providing sulphur and conserving precious methionine.

MSM is a thorny issue right now. The FEI (following a long standing American view) have recently decided that MSM is a Controlled Substance. That means it has a legitimate use in equine medicine but you can’t compete using it. That view is being challenged by some in the UK because (apart from America) most joint supplements made throughout Europe have contained MSM for a very long time. The debate surrounds the confusing array of names of a number of similar but slightly different chemicals. But don’t be surprised if MSM comes out of your favourite joint supplement before 1st January 2018.

Zinc and Copper

All sorts of minerals are involved in hoof horn production. The only reason to pick out zinc and copper is that they are quite commonly lacking in horse diets – especially those living on sandy soils. And a lack of either of these can certainly impact on the quality of the hoof.

Is there more to good hoof quality than we think? The release of the keratin that makes the hoof is controlled by a system inside the cells called calcium signalling and chelated calcium appears to have a role in this process. So is this the missing link to the Perfect hoof quality…..?

Click here to read more about hoof support. 

To see EquiFeast's Hoof Essentials Click here

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