Thursday, May 28, 2009

When to make the call

(Pictured: Buttercup saying, "Just say no to hoof abscesses!")

I feel like I always have to straddle two worlds: over-protective mommy and too relaxed devil-may caregiver.

In all reality, you don't want to be one or the other, but you want to incorporate a little of both with horses. For example, over-protective mommy would have been appropriate last year when my horse went lame (actually when I was trying to remember my former farrier's instructions would have been more appropriate). However, that is not an appropriate reaction to something like a stone bruise.

From my jinxing last week, I was on the phone with my farrier every day until we worked something out with our schedules to get the shoe put back on. I'm sure he was glad to finally get the shoeing over with. I can be a bit pestering and prone to over-reactive side since realizing my grave errors last year.

On Monday, I called him and told him how Buttercup was faring. She was landing rather "heavy" on both front feet, which is what it looks like when they are tending toward landing toe first and not flat or heel first.

When he replaced her shoe on Friday, he discovered some infection flaring up in her front left, so we chalked this up to the infection causing some discomfort. I soaked her Monday and Tuesday for about 15 minutes each in a Lysol solution (the only thing I have found so far that kills her infection).

Yesterday, I came out to the barn to a severely lame horse. She almost couldn't bear weight on her front left when I picked up her front right.

There are many times in our horsey careers that we will come out to the barn with an acutely lame horse. A horse that was sound just hours before is now hobbling like his leg is broke.

The first thing to do is not to panic and put your vet and farrier on three-way, freaking out.

If I notice some off steps, I inspect her legs and hooves. Any swelling? Is there noticeable heat anywhere on the hooves?

After, I trot my horse (from the ground) on a straightaway for about 25 yards. I've gotten pretty good at watching her feet, while not tripping and running. Does she get better as she moves out?

Usually not.

Then, I put her into a 10 m or less lunge at the walk. How is she moving at the walk? Again, does she seem to start moving better? Try a trot, too.

At the halt, inspect the hooves again. More heat? Less? More swelling? Less?

Here's the truth about acute lameness: nine times out of 10, it is an abscess or an injury sustained out in the pasture while the horses were cutting up. Both create swelling, but an abscess will create heat in the hoof. Usually, after moderate exercise, this heat dissipates.

If it is just a pasture injury, look for scrapes. Sometimes the most minimal of scrapes is an indicator of an injury. If you can't see something right away, look at the soles of the hooves. There may be some slight purpling, indicating a stone bruise. If injury's the case, bute and some hand walking over the next couple days usually clears that right up. (Of course if the horse is opened up and bloody, or he doesn't get better, please call your vet.)

If it is an abscess, it usually appears better after about 10 minutes soaking in warm water and epsom salts, or after some moderate exercise. You'll want to call your farrier and tell him you suspect an abscess. Many farriers want to come dig out abcesses, other prefer to let it pop out naturally. Just call and let him know and ask him what he wants you to do.

There is controversy about buting a horse that's abcessing. The reason being is that bute, like aspirin, thins the blood (anti-inflammatory). Blood pressure is needed to help "pop" the abscess, or draw it out. I have buted a horse with an abcess, and I haven't buted a horse with an abcess. I, personally, could never really see a huge difference in recovery time.

Last night, I left a message with my farrier and I chose to bute Buttercup and move her to a sandier, drier paddock. If her infection has gotten too out of control, the last thing she needs is to be in damp conditions. And if she is in so much pain, she isn't going to be walking around increasing blood flow. So, I made the decision to give her pain medication.

I'll see what my farrier wants to do about her later. My initial thoughts are abscess since she was already showing signs Monday of discomfort.

Here's an article I found on hoof abscesses and reading it only further convinces me that Buttercup has picked up an abscess due to the wet conditions and recent shoeing. Looks like I'll be replacing my Lysol with epsom salts!

Veterinary Corner 10/00: Hoof Abscesses

by Frosty Franklin, DVM
Edgecliff Equine Hospital
S. 1322 Park Road, Spokane, WA 99212 * 509/924-6069

The horse's hoof is a very durable, tough structure that is constantly renewing. The hoof is always in contact with the environment and, as such, experiences a wide variety of traumatic insults that occasionally damages the hoof and enclosed structures. One of the most common problems occurring to the hoof is the introduction of bacteria and other microorganisms to the sensitive structures within the hoof. A hoof abscess is the result.

A hoof abscess, in my mind, is either a direct hoof abscess caused by penetrating wounds or an indirect hoof abscess caused by the migration of moisture and bacteria into fissures and cracks along the white line.

Almost always when the horse is acutely lame to the point where weight bearing on the affected limb is difficult, the diagnosis is a hoof abscess. Rarely, that non weight-bearing stance is caused by a fractured bone somewhere within that affected limb. By examining the foot for heat and swelling just above the foot in the pastern and fetlock and by evaluating the digital arterial pulses the owner can quickly rule in or rule out a hoof abscess.

In talking with my clients I was amazed to find a large percentage of horse owners that are not aware of the importance of being able to check for the presence of pulses within the digital arteries. In the normal resting horse the digital arterial pulses are not palpable. The digital arteries are present on each side of the pastern. The digital vein is visible on each side of the pastern in most horses, especially if the hair on the pastern is clipped. The digital artery is just slightly posterior to the vein, the vein being a good visual landmark. Whenever inflammation or infection occurs in the foot, the pulses in the digital arteries are obvious to anyone that feels for them. It would be a good idea for horse owners to become familiar with the digital arterial pulses and how to palpate for them. Ask your veterinarian for help if you are confused about the anatomy. Check your horse right after exercise, because then the pulses are palpable.

Penetrating wounds of the hoof can be very serious and should be treated as a potential career ending or life-threatening wound. It is difficult to tell which of the vital structures of the foot have been injured and contaminated with microorganisms. Penetrating wounds of the middle third of the frog are particularly scary because in this region the navicular bone and bursa are present, as well as the deep flexor tendon and the coffin joint. Some of the puncture wounds to the hoof are well hidden by the spongy, elastic frog or the dark dirt-filled sulci and go undetected. In other cases, the nail is simply removed, some iodine squirted in the wound and the incident is not taken seriously and several days may have lapsed before treatment is sought. By then a very serious situation has precipitated requiring surgery, long-term antibiotic therapy, and special hoof care with only a fair chance of returning to full use. In one study, 12 of 38 horses with puncture wound to the navicular bursa or navicular bone returned to satisfactory function.

Fortunately, indirect hoof abscess are much more common. In our practice, they occur when the footing is wet. Defects and fissures in the white line allow the moisture, manure and bacteria access to the sensitive structures to form this type of abscess. These abscesses are relatively easy to treat if the fissure is readily located. These fissures and the structurally comprised white line are common in chronic laminitic (foundered) horses. The "stretched" or widened, pithy white line does not have the integrity of a normal white and allows filth access to the sensitive tissues of the foot. Horses that are recently trimmed and then exposed to muddy/mucky corrals also seemed to be predisposed to a indirect hoof abscess. The infection that gains access to the foot through the white line may travel up the sensitive lamina underneath the hoof wall forming a "gravel" that drains at the coronet. Or much more likely, the infection involves the sole and becomes a sole abscess. This type of hoof abscess is very painful but usually resolves within a few days with proper treatment.

Diagnosing indirect hoof abscess is usually straightforward. Examining the foot for heat, pain, and swelling. Removing the shoe, and proper cleaning of the hoof with a hoof pick and hoof knife is essential. Paying particular attention to the coronet, frog, sulci, and the white line. The hoof testers can be very useful or they can make the horse very defensive because you apply them too forcefully at the beginning. Once the black line or fissure is identified the line is followed with the hoof knife and most of the time grayish exudate will drain the abscess.

Establishing surgical drainage is the most important aspect of therapy. A small loop knife works well. Once a small drainage hole is created the foot may be soaked in hot Epsom salt solution (2 cups per gallon of very warm water). Instead of soaking, I usually apply Magnapaste ointment and bandage the hoof. Magnapaste is an osmotic and "draws" the abscess. Recently, over the bandage I have been applying a new product called the "Equine Slipper." The Equine Slipper has a thick leather bottom and the upper part is breathable cordura nylon with handy Velcro fasteners. It seems to protect the bandage and keeps the hoof clean. Tetanus toxoid should be administered if the horse has not been vaccinated within the last 6 months. I usually prescribe phenylbutazone: 2 grams daily for 6 days.

Penetrating wounds or direct hoof abscess are managed more intensely. The penetrating object is best left in place. The veterinarian is summoned and the hoof radiographed. Even then, evaluating all the structures involved is difficult. Dr. Schneider at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine is using MRI to evaluate the structures of the foot damaged by puncture wounds. The more information one can delineate the more accurate the diagnosis and prognosis. Treatment of these direct abscesses many times is difficult. Surgical curettage of bone infections to the third phalanx or navicular bone caused by nails puncturing the bone, debriding the deep flexor tendon and drainage of the navicular bursa or joint lavage of the coffin joint are procedures requiring expertise and considerable expense. The prognosis is guarded to unfavorable in many cases. If the penetrating object does not encounter a vital structure as around the periphery of the hoof, most of the time the prognosis for complete recovery is good.

Some hoof abscess can be prevented. Start by keeping the barnyard and stable free of nails and other sharp objects that can penetrate the hoof. They are the number one cause of penetrating injuries to the foot.

Should an acute lameness occur, seek veterinary attention early. Early treatment usually has a higher success rate.

Looks like our plans for a dressage test in two weeks have been put on hold ...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jinx ... you owe me a new shoeing

I've never been overly superstitious, though my husband may disagree with me. I do, however, become really superstitious when it comes to horses. There are things that I either won't say (even if a vet directly asks me) or won't say without knocking on wood or crossing my fingers.

These include: s/he has never colicked, never been lame and never refused a fence. (Any absolute statement is a surefire way to test destiny.)

You can bet, as soon as you say these things, they happen. I'm not sure if it is a real "jinxing," since horses are so accident prone that these things are likely to happen despite me saying it or not.

Case and point: Last Tuesday, I was talking to a young girl via the internet with her own hoof issues. We were discussing cadence and setting back the shoe so the horse has adequate heel foundation to travel across.

I think some of you may know by now that I believe that if you fix the cadence, forging shouldn't be an issue. Being the smart alack that I am, I sent the young girl a picture of Buttercup's setback shoe, just asking to get ripped off by the back hooves, and wrote: "Guess how many times she's pulled off her shoe due to forging? Zero."

I'm not going to make excuses as to my blatant jinxing. I know better. You just don't say things like that and expect to come out to the barn later with a perfectly shod horse.

And I didn't.

That very morning as I was bragging about my wonderfully shod horse (wonderful in terms of rehabilitation, not in terms of perfection), Buttercup was busy tearing it up in a muddy pasture with all of her girlfriends. Good-bye, left front shoe and parts of her left front hoof.

Three days of stall rest passed before I could get her over to my farrier. We repaired her hoof with bondo, and decided to put two bell boots per hoof. Luckily, the damage hasn't completely undone all of our rehab work.

If the cadence was fixed, how did this happen?

I can only assume that the combination of her airs above ground and a slick pasture led her to interfere (Buttercup tends to interfere on the backside of fences even when her hooves are healthy) and rip off the shoe.

Also, with the wet conditions, it seems that Buttercup's infection has flared up again. So, I'll be soaking in lysol more regularly. Not sure if the infection made the hoof more crumbly and prone to letting the shoe rip off, but it can't hurt to nip that in the bud.

You'd think I'd learn not to say things that'll jinx me after 20 years around horses.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On heel foundation

Wow! I just came across two great visuals of what it's like when you have no heel foundation for your horse:

Ouch, huh?

Here are some hoof pics so you can see what it looks like on the horse:

So what happens when you have no hoof foundation on your horse? Besides the horse being in pain from his tendons trying to hold himself up and his muscles straining to keep himself balanced, he will also move with a lack of cadence. In other words, the front feet will move faster than the hind feet, creating opportunity to forge or interfere.

Here's a visual of a horse at the trot. Notice how the inside and rear legs on opposite sides mirror each other. When I say lack of cadence, I mean that those legs don't mirror each other. Also notice how the horse lands heel or flat on his front hooves. That's a good side that his hoof is well balanced (although certainly not the only indicator).

Here's Buttercup actually landing heel/flat first!!!

We're getting there!

Hoof wars

Barefoot versus shod is a legitimate war waging in the equestrian community. Much like political issues, it has become way more polarizing than its followers ever intended to be. Of course, it's the "others" who are wrong and are making it an issue.

Well, it takes two to tango.

As an unbiased observer (haha), I have been caught up in the whirlwind of "You must go barefoot" or "Your horse must stay in shoes" debate on internet forums and even at the local tack shop.

I am going to present my ideology first before I represent both sides of the issue. Why? Because I want you to know my own bias so that when you read my descriptions, you will know how I feel about each one. Anyone reading this should also post your views.

Let me start by saying: this should not be a polarizing issue. Hoof work is an art, not a science and, thus, there is no black and white. Lots of blurring.

OK, here's my view: Horses have been domesticated for a very, very long time. Even the feral horses of the fabled Wild West were descended from domesticated horses. As such, humans have been controlling the breeding of horses, not nature (with the exception of feral herds after generations of dying due to poor genes).

This means that horses are imperfect and not suitable for life in the wild. Much like my chickens would likely be gobbled up by a passing fox if I tried to put them out in the wild. They are bumbly and pretty used to their cushy life style.

Hooves are the foundation of any horse, and yet few breeding programs take this into account.

Now, genes are only part of this equation. Horses are plains creatures, much like the zebra and buffalo, which is why they have hooves and not camel pads for desert or rabbit-like paw for the forest floor. Their ancestors were actually forest dwellers and did not have the single hoof, though, but that's not really relevant right now. (Bear with me through these tangents, I'm a huge nerd)

(Pictured: early horse ancestor, Eohippus, which had a pad-like foot)

Do you live on a plain? Does your horse live 24/7 in plains conditions through flood and drought, traveling to muddy water pits and grazing over 10 miles a day?

Very few can make that claim (though I know some of you are lucky to do so).

Then, we often put our own "ideal" standards on it and try to force it to exactly 45 degrees or go barefoot when the sole is too low or constrain it with a shoe. Some disciplines (I'm pointing to you, pleasure and racing) love long toes because it can create a smoother gait or have the horse reach further.

(Pictured: Big Brown's hooves. Famous for the reconstruction done to them, note the long toe and low heel commonly seen in racing and pleasure horses)

In summary, we have genes, environment and our own ideology working against the foundation of our horses' hooves. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn't.

So, am I pro barefoot or pro traditional? Neither. I'm in it for the horse. If barefoot is what works best to have a healthy, sound horse, then use barefoot methods. If traditional methods work, use those. I happen to believe that Buttercup is not a candidate for barefoot. Her splayed hoof and damaged lamina already create enough pain with a shoe holding it all together. She needs a model to "grow into."

Now, that's not to say I discount what the barefoot ideology says, or that I won't listen to someone who brings it up. My vet and I have talked at length about it; she's a barefoot advocate but believes Bud should remain in shoes.

How do you know which way you should go if you have a horse with hoof problems? That's a hard question to answer. The short answer is that you have to do what's best for your horse and put aside your own prejudices. You make up your mind by talking to as many professionals as possible and educating yourself on your horse's particular problems. A blog (especially this one), an internet forum or the lady who owns the feed and seed can't make that decision for you.

Here are my descriptions and dangers regarding each method:

Traditional: With traditional, you can go either barefoot or shod. Typically, your farrier is concerned with the proper angle of a hoof, however forcing an angle on a horse should never be condoned. Problems with this method include weakened hoof wall, contracted heels, shoeing the hoof to the shoe rather than forging the shoe to the hoof, and much more.

(Pictured: barefoot eventing horse)

Barefoot: Absolutely no shoes. Sometimes they use hoof boots to help horses in the transition. Barefooters seem more interested in maintaining the horse's natural hoof angle and usually keep heels low and the front toe square. Problems with this method is that the "natural" angle of the hoof may be hurting your horse and you may need more correction, low heels can exacerbate hoof problems and locomotive problems, sometimes a low sole causes pain for the horse on certain terrains.

I'm sure there are more descriptions to these as well as dangers. But I find it's best to go with a neo-traditional farrier (please don't call and ask a farrier if he is "neo-traditional," he'll probably hang up on you because I just coined that term, haha). Typically, he understands the barefoot principal and the traditional principal, and straddles both worlds to do what's best for the horse.

Above all else: stay away from fanatics, especially when it comes to your horse. Fanatics refuse to believe there is any other way but THEIR way, and that is dangerous thinking. If ALL horses must go barefoot, stay away from that farrier. If ALL horses must be shod at 45-degrees, take your business elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So, your horse is lame

(Pictured: Buttercup yesterday, completely full of herself and feeling good with her nicely shod hooves)

If you've owned horses for any length of time, one of them will inevitably turn up lame. Whether it is from farrieritis or injury, odds are you have had to deal with a horse in "down" time.

I had nearly eight months of down time with Buttercup last year. And now, after every trim, I have about four or five days before I can ride her due to her stressed lamina.

What many performance-orientated and even weekend riders forget is that despite having a horse out of commission, there are plenty of other activities you can do besides riding. Last year, I spent maybe three days out at the barn the first month after I confirmed Buttercup wasn't getting much sounder. I'd go out there, watch her limp around, sigh and then head home.

Sometimes I'd take her out of the pasture and groom her. Eventually I was only out there for her thrice-weekly epsom salts soaking to stave off the imaginary abcess she was fighting.

Buttercup didn't seem to mind the down time. She had 24/7 turnout and even on uncomfortable hooves, she seemed to take it in stride.

Not me. I was going stir crazy.

So, how did I deal with eight months of no horse to ride??? Well, besides trying to educate myself on hooves, I found some great ways to deal with a lame horse. Let me preface the following list of ideas by saying: do not do anything with your horse that can worsen his condition. Follow your vet's and farrier's advice on how much is too much for your horse.

Here's my "What to do when your horse is lame" list:

1. Take lessons. I'm serious. Get on a bunch of different horses with a bunch of different instructors. Are you a western rider who has never jumped? Take some english lessons. Jumper who has never tried dressage? Take some dressage lessons. You certainly won't be spending your money on shows or trailering your horse anywhere, so you might as well put it to good use in furthering your equestrian skills, whether that's in your current discipline or broadening your horizons.

2. Buy some books and DVDs. Take time to read/learn from the professionals. I am a huge fan of George Morris and read his books. I also re-read Conditioning of the Performance Horse and several other oldies but goodies. Ever wonder what the hype is about Clinton Anderson or some other natural horseman? Now's the time to check it out.

3. Learn how to adequately prep for a show. Pretend that a show is the next day and you have to get the trailer ready, your tack ready and your horse show ready. Do the whole-shebang. Clip, clean, braid. Figure out where you can be more efficient. Really suck at braiding? Time to re-learn the craft. Afterall, what else are you doing? Here's a great video on how to do that mane banding for showmanship or western classes:

(Pictured: You know you want nice clean, supple tack; now's the time to do it!)

4. Break old habits. Never have time to un-do bad habits with your horse because you are in too much of a hurry to ride? Now's the time to desensitize that girthy horse to the girth. Teach your horse to stand still for mounting. Learn how to properly trailer load.

5. Learn some new tricks. Try riding bridleless if your horse is sound at the walk. Try something completely random, like this: . Teach your horse to bow or say "yes." Why not hobble break your horse if he is comfortable with walking or standing still?

6. Master the walk. It sounds stupid, but many people forget that this is one of the most important gaits. Try mastering all three speeds at the walk (collected, medium and free). Learn to halt squarely. Does your horse pull on you as you halt? Fix it at the walk. Energize the walk. You can even teach the half-halt at the walk. The walk used to be my least favorite gait (mainly because it is the hardest to get right), but now I spend probably 30 minutes each riding session walking, just because I've learned to really love this intricate and balanced gait. Here's Bud and I a couple months ago (we aren't doing too much here, but you get the idea):

7. Keep tone with your own exercise routine. I've found that running and yoga help me keep my riding physique nicely. Of course, despite a regular exercise routine, I got sore again once I picked up riding, but my balance and core were strong so it didn't take too long to get back into the swing of things.

8. Learn how to stretch your horse. There are tons of materials online, and your horse will appreciate it, especially if he is lame. Lame horses compensate and cause their muscles to be sore. For Buttercup, that was her back left loin. Here's my first attempt ever at stretching her, notice how she is a bit uncomfortable? She's completely lost that now with a couple stretches a week:

9. Photo shoot! Ever want great pictures of your horse? As any photographer will tell you, it often takes hundreds of photos to get one good photo. Take conformation pictures, hoof pictures (remember to update your hoof journal!), and "glamor" shots. Your horse will appreciate the time you spend with him, especially if you bring carrots, and you'll love the new pics of your horse.

(Pictured: Buttercup in a recent "glam" photo shoot)

Having a lame horse is not a death sentence. If you are in the rehab process and have no other choice but to wait out your horse's recovery, you're going to have to get creative. I have learned to properly braid my horse, I have somewhat mastered the walk, and I've helped my horse overcome her displeasure at being girthed (she is not what I'd deem girthy. but she just really dislikes it).

Of course, instead of doing anything, you could just sit around and complain that your horse is lame ...

Have any suggestions on what to do while your horse is lame? Post 'em!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Correctly balanced barefoot

It has been brought to my attention that I gave a very poor example of a properly trimmed and balanced barefoot in my Hooves 101 thread.

I blame the fact that most people don't take pictures of balanced feet, and only seem to take pictures of hooves in the middle of rehabbing. Refer to Why I need a Hoof Journal post on why you shouldn't take your balanced hooves for granted. It would also make life easy for me to use real-life exampled instead of "ideal" pictures (as we know, there is no such thing as an ideal horse).

The person who pointed out my mistake sent me a wonderful picture of a balanced and barefoot hoof. This is a great reference point.

Of course it isn't perfect (no hoof is), but this is a great example of how a front hoof should look from the lateral view. Which reminds me: One of the best ways to evaluate your horse's hoof for an overall look at balance is the lateral view (and not at a downward angle). For some reason people usually post the front view of the hoof, which can be good in some cases, but cannot provide an adequate picture like the one above. (Edited: another great way is the solar view, which is a bit trickier to take a picture of. Thank you Mrs. Mom!!!)

So, why is this a picture-perfect example of a balanced hoof? Remember our diagrams in Hooves 101? The first thing I look for is, does the heel angle match the toe angle? Check. I also look to see if it looks like the horse is walking on a heel, and not trying to balance starting half-way down the hoof (a sign of an underslung heel).

The best part about a balanced barefoot hoof is that a balanced shod hoof should follow the same examples. I will discuss barefoot vs. shod at some point and don't want to get into it here. But regardless if your horse is shod or barefoot, if it's balanced, it should be somewhat similar to this hoof.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Let's talk supplements.

I'm still up in the air about the effectiveness of supplements. I'd love to hear more opinions on this matter, but I'm going to give you the pro's and con's as I see it.

-relatively safe
-accounts of proven results
-shiny coat on your horse

-possible waste of money
-kind of inconvenient at feeding time

I'll be straightforward: I feed my horse a hoof supplement. I started feeding SmartHoof through SmartPak in October, and now I'm feeding Nu-Hoof.

Before I started feeding it, I had many laypeople tell me how well supplements work and that my horse definitely needed it. I also asked three farriers and one vet about it, and they told me the only thing I'd be doing is making very expensive horse urine.

But I don't regret my decision. Even if my horse is peeing away $30 a month, I would rather do everything in my power to make her better than not try an option. I think it is still too soon to see results ... either that or there are no results. But so far, my horse's hooves have not grown considerably faster nor do they looked considerably better (well, they are looking better, but that's probably due to farrier work).

But I will continue to supplement. Call me hard-headed, but I happen to think it's a smart decision because if there is a slight chance that $30 a month can encourage my horse to heal faster or have better hooves, I think that's worth exploring.

Don't get me wrong: I think that supplements can work. There is a lot much evidence to back it up. And often, I think it is a mixture of cures that get our desired result. Who's to say the supplement hasn't helped my horse in a way we can't see?

So, what should you look for in a supplement?

I have heard that horses react to different things in supplements in different ways. One horse may do well on Farriers Formula, but another horse may not. In turn that horse may do well on Nu-Hoof.

Hoof supplements essentially are biotin with a few extras thrown in (Omega-3 and magnesium are popular). Biotin has been lauded to help healthy hoof growth. From what I know, you want at least 20 mg of biotin for maintenance on horses, and 30 mg and up for horses with hoof problems.

Think of this supplement like buying yourself supplements. If you are looking to improve the quality of your skin and nails, you could buy Omega-3 or Vitamin E. Or you could buy the multi-vitamin geared toward helping you have great skin and nails. The same is true of hoof supplements.

Omega Horseshine is a good example of a "multi vitamin geared toward hooves" supplement. But sometimes, you just may want the plain biotin (it is also less expensive).

Some horses do better with different minerals in with the biotin, and you may have to figure out what works and what doesn't.

How far you want to go with it is your choice. Personally, I believe that any horse being adequately fed with a complete feed should not need extra supplements, but anything "extra" will just be passed through urine anyway. Like I said, it could possibly beneficial, with very few downsides, so why not try it?

One thing you want to be careful of is lysine content. If you live in an area with high lysine content in hay and in grass, you can poison your horse. Many supplements contain lysine because it's essential for breaking down protein, if I recall correctly. So make sure you pay attention to what you're feeding your horse.

Anyone have any great stories about supplements and hooves? I'd love to hear them!