When it comes to hoof health, remember three things: 1) Involve your farrier; 2) Feed a balanced diet (a hoof supplement is close to ?equine Centrum?); and 3) Rule out bacterial/fungal infections. If all three are in order, and you still have chipping or cracks, consider using a topical hoof product.
?Dressing: A dressing helps replace the wall?s fatty/waxy barrier and promotes quality growth. However, even though it's the wall that cracks/chips, the hoof absorbs moisture through its frog, sole and coronet, so apply the dressing to these areas. you'll see quality better wall grow down from the coronet. But it's slow. It takes nine months to a year for a hoof to fully grow out. Some change should be noticeable in four to six weeks.
?Our favorite dressings: Animal Legends, Hoof Heal, Original Hooflex, Rain Maker, Sole Pack dressing and Contender with MSM and HA. Contender is expensive, but We've seen good results on a horse with stubborn cracking. The new growth is more pliable and strong.
If a regular hoof dressing doesn't get the job done, you may need to reach for a sealer or hardener.
?Sealer: A sealant prevents moisture, dirt, bacteria, fungus from entering the hoof through cracks in the hoof wall. Your farrier may use a sealant to cover nail holes after the horse is shod. Apply the sealer ONLY to the hoof wall, according to the label.
?Our favorite sealers: SBS Farrier?s Hoof Sealant,? Keratex Hoof Gel, and Mustad Tuff Stuff.
?Hardener: This product will stay on your horse's hoof until it grows out, so reach for it only when your farrier agrees the sealer isn?t enough. Again, apply only to the hoof wall.
?Our favorite hardeners: Keratex Hoof Hardener and Cavalor Dry Feet.
Article by Contributing Farrier Editor Lee Foley.