Hoof and Coat Problems Facing the Off-the-track Thoroughbred
On the track, constant exercise, frequent shoeing, and the demands of racing can put a lot of stress on Thoroughbreds’ hooves. Bad feet can lead to other issues, such as sore backs and hocks. Hooves are made of tough tissue called keratin. Keratin bonds are formed with the B vitamin biotin. When biotin is lacking in the diet, Thoroughbreds’ hooves can become brittle and dry, which leads to cracked hooves that fall apart. Adding a biotin supplement may be necessary to help regrow and maintain strong hooves. Researchers recommend 20 mg of biotin per day and while concentrates do provide some biotin they are usually well short of 20 mg. It is also important that the hoof supplement provide essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine; trace minerals such as iodine and zinc; and a source of fatty acids. This combination of ingredients plays a significant role in maintaining healthy hooves.
Remember, it takes a year or more for a horse to grow an entire hoof. New hoof growth at the coronary band is often markedly different from old. Stronger feet have multiple advantages: they hold shoes longer, they are less likely to crack and crumble, and they are less prone to debilitating conditions such as white line disease. Click here for more information on how to get the most for your money with a well-formulated hoof supplement.
A number of nutrients play a role in a Thoroughbred’s skin and coat health. Many factors, including parasites, ulcers and nutrient imbalances, can cause your Thoroughbred to have a dry, flaky, or dull coat when they first arrive or during their transition to a new career. Once other factors have been ruled out or addressed, nutrients can be supplemented to support coat quality. Trace minerals and essential amino acids—iodine, zinc, lysine, methionine—are all needed to maintain healthy skin and grow strong manes and tails. Adding essential fatty acids to the diet will further protect the skin and coat from drying and flaking. Thoroughbreds consuming fats will have shiny hair coats, soft skin, and easy-to-manage manes and tails.
Balancing the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids also plays a role in skin and coat health. The omega-3 fatty acids are often deficient in the modern Thoroughbred diet. If your Thoroughbred has sensitive skin, or as some people say “thin skin,” that is reacting to their new environment, omega-3 fatty acids have also been proven to reduce skin inflammation and mitigate allergic responses.