Originally Posted by Britt
I've always heard that the rings on a horses hoof are often caused by a change in their feed schedule... like if they go from one feed to a really rich feed...
Yes, metabolic upsets due to a change in feed, not only, but especially when involving a 'rich' feed, can cause lami too.
I've recently changed my horses feed from a regular sweet feed to plain alfalfa pellets... the rings in his hoof only started after the switch and both my nieghbor and my farrier said it was normal and fine.
Depends what the rings look like as to whether 'growth rings' are OK & normal(well, lami rings are normal for many horses...) or not. If they're just lines, or very faint ridges or dents then they may just be growth rings. If they're ridgy - that is, the hoof wall isn't flat, they're likely signs of lami. Hooves may also be flared - not straight from hairline to ground surface, which indicates the walls have become separated. The well connected part of the hoof can often be seen in the top half inch or so down from the hairline & then the walls flare away from there.
Most horses I've seen that are on 'rich' feeds have some degree or other of laminitis(that is, inflammation/weakening of the laminae as opposed to founder - the mechanical results). If there're ridges in the rings at around the time you switched feeds, it's likely the better attached growth beginning to come down. If you're seeing more ridges since then - that is, higher up - then there's likely something not right there. Possibly to do with how you feed(only a guess)? Feeding small portions in as many meals a day is always preferable, and even less 'rich' feed can cause probs if fed too infrequently in large portions.