Thursday, November 13, 2008


Today’s blog is in response to questions posed by a reader. The response got so long, I gave it it’s own topic.

Overall, a lot of foot problems are directly related to nutrition problems. The horse is not getting something that they need to grow a strong hoof. And true some of it is genetic. (Not unlike humans – my fingernails are thin and brittle)


Angel is an Appaloosa with 4 white feet. Her feet are made out of some nasty material that vaguely resembles hooves. I have ALWAYS had problems with her feet. Last summer was the worst. My farrier was at my house every other day for three weeks. On time, I stepped on the side of her hoof and my weight alone pulled the shoes off. Lots of glue and nails later, we were FINALLY able to keep the shoes on her. However, there was NO WAY that I could ride her. I just couldn’t take the chance.

Also, Angel’s front right hoof was “clubby”. It was oblong, rather than being more “rounded” and grew threw the heel, rather than the toe. At it’s worst, it was contracting with the walls almost vertical.

What did I do? My farrier suggested Biotin. He warned me that it would make her feet grow faster, but if I could get STRONGER, I was cool with that.

I started looking around for biotin supplements. There are a BAZILLION products out there. I chose HorseGuard Biotin X2. It has 32 mg of biotin per ounce. This is important to note. There were some out there that said 64 mg per SERVING, which ended up being a cup or more. The HorseGuard gave me the best concentrated dose that I could find, and the horse loved it. It’s in a corn meal base, comes with a one ounce scoop and it’s easy to feed. AND….IT WORKS!!

Six weeks later, when the farrier came to trim, we both noticed that the newest growth below the coronary band was thicker than the hoof wall. The clubby hoof’s new growth seemed to be more flared. Another, totally unexpected side effect of the biotin – HER TAIL GREW 6 INCHES!!!!!! She has always had the classic appy broomtail that never reached her hocks. It’s not a whole lot thicker, but it IS longer.

When I started Angel on the biotin, I was giving her 2 ounces every day, am and pm. I did this for 6 months. Then I cut her back to one ounce for 6 months. In May 2008, there was a discussion on a barrel racing board that I frequent about feet. A gal who also has cutting horses said that they feed all their horses dry milk because in their competition, they have to have feet.

So I added the dry milk to help the wall grow even thicker. It is working, but the thicker part hasn’t reach the bottom, so it hasn’t been trimmed off yet.

There is also a product from Silver Lining Herbs for Hoof and Feet. It increases the circulation and helps the hoof grow healthy. They say it is also good for treating navicular and founder. I have not used this product, but I HAVE used other of their products and have noticed a difference each time with each horse I used them on. I can go into this more in another post if you would like to know my experiences.

So, biotin for QUICK, dry milk for THICK.

UPDATE - Su-per Sole Formula aka - Sole Solution (On the bottle it says "The Sole Solution" That's why I was confused, sorry)– it’s this stinky brown liquid that comes in a little squeezey bottle. When the farrier trims out the sole, he takes off the callus that develops over time. This “opens” the sole. It’s like trying to grow out your fingernails, then cutting them back. Your fingertips are sore for a couple of days, right? Same with a horse. More so if he’s had shoes on, and now is going barefoot. A real short pre-winter trim compounds it.

Sole Solution “tightens” the sole. It cause the sole to contract and close itself off. It will work as a moisture block to a certain degree. I use it in conjunction with Tuf Stuff, which seals the cracks and nails holes, and hardens the hoof wall.

I’ve been told that it can take up to a full year to transition a horse from being shod to barefoot. I feel that barefoot is truly best for the horse. In the barefoot hoof, the sole flexes up and down to support the coffin bone, and the hoof walls which seem hard and rigid, flex also, though to a lesser degree. When you put a metal show on the hoof, the wall flexation stops, while the sole flexation continues. The hoof no longer works as nature intended it to.


I recently heard about the Easy Walker (aka Mare Jordans)

They are a synthetic shoe, can be reset up to 5 times, allow the sole to callus while allowing the hoof to flex. There are riders of all disciplines using these shoes. Talk to your farrier about them. They require a special tool and special nails, but I understand that it’s a fairly easy step from tradition shoes to the Easy Walkers.


trailblazer said...

Thanks, Karen! You are awesome! I'm getting rid of my Merck and emailing Karen V instead! Where do you get the Sole Solutions? I've searched my basic sites that I order from and can't find it.

Thanks for the great info.


Karen V said...

Lynne - I updated the post to include a link. You can probably get it anywhere, but I chose KV Pets & Equine because it came up first. It's the same stuff though. A little goes a long way. I've had the same bottle for almost a year. Good luck!