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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

I have a 8yo Haflinger gelding named Strudel, got him 6 months ago, Im using him mostly for countryside walks after work, mountail trails and light ground work.

He's a lovely boy but the previous owner kept him in terrible conditions for almost 3 years (long and muddy winters, knee-deep into the mud and manure, dry scorching summers with no hoof oil, open paddock, no box, under the rain/snow/heat etc) with the result that now the horse has a fragile hoof and the hoof wall is quite thin.

I have changed 3 ferriers so far and I finally found one that knows what hes doing and is giving me solid advices about my horse's hoof health.

I was suggested to use this product called Keratex Hoof Hardener, not the cheapest option on the market but tbh I only want the best at this point. Its a mixture thats supposed to harden and improve fragile and cracking hooves or during transition from shoed to barefoot.

Id like to know if anyone else here has been using this product and whats your feedback about it.
I've read hundreds of pages on the web on the major e-commerce websites where I was finding this product for sale and I have to say since they're all 5* reviews I believe its a good product, hopefully it'll work on my horse as well.

Thank you very much everyone!

Bonus pic of the haffy boy

 

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Hoof hardeners treat the exterior...
Feeding good nutrition to the body so it is able to grow healthy hoof horn remedies from the inside out which is what you want to and must in fact do.
My caution of using hoof hardeners are that it can stop the hoof from breathing, shedding moisture or absorbing it as necessary to have a healthy foot on your horse.


Personally, I have never had need of painting a hoof to seal out moisture...or "harden".
I would be wanting to read pro & con of any product and if reviews don't have that, then I question if the company reviews and picks what they wish seen and only show positive...
Something to think about..
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I will echo what HLG said - hoof health starts at nutrition. When I moved my horses earlier this year to a new barn, my mare's hooves dried out, started vertically cracking, and now are chipping horribly. My new farrier and I have settled on doing a 4 week trim cycle, and to start her on a good supplement to support healthy hoof growth.

I am in the US, so I'm sure the products are different in Italy, but I'm using "California Trace", a mineral supplement in pellet form. It should be arriving in the mail this week, and I will be making a thread of hoof transformations, to see if it really does work and track the progress of my horses feet.

Did you farrier suggest anything nutritionally?
 

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Does it work? Yes. Is it a long-term fix? No. I don't think that having it on hand during the transitioning period would be a bad thing, but hoof health is maintained with more than just topical applications.



The only thing that will aid in improving hoof quality alongside proper trims is balancing your horse's nutrition. If you can, I recommend testing your horse's hay at least once, just so you are able to get the gist of what minerals/vitamins are high and low in your area. You can then aim his dietary nutrients to 'fill in the blanks'. To see change in hoof quality, it may take several months after the change, since it takes a whole year or more for the entire hoof to grow out (top--> bottom). If I remember correctly, it took my horse about 4 months. If you guy keeps his weight easily, then I recommend feeding a vitamin/mineral powder in soaked hay cubes/fibre nuggets. Horsetech does a full spectrum vitamin/mineral supplement (High Point - Grass/Hay) at a decent price and 15lbs lasts about 3 months. If not, then look at feeds with higher calories, that still meet your horse's needs.



Some things to look at, in particular.... Protein and amino acids (aas). I've found that high point doesn't quite have enough aas for my liking. Copper-Zinc (1:4) and iron balance. Keep in mind that iron is often highly available in a horse's environment and can be high in some areas. If that is your area, then I'd leave Iron out of the feed personally because if copper is not high enough to balance it, then copper will not be absorbed properly and neither will zinc (which helps synthesize the protein-keratin in your horse's hooves). Vitamin B3/B7 (Biotin) may also help with hoof wall strength, if your horse is needing it. Fatty acids such as linoleic and alpha-linolenic, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. They help make a healthy periople, the permeable barrier on the outside of the hoof that prevents drying and cracking. Flax seed or oil is a good resource for them.



Also, hoof oil is rarely needed. The hoof has a natural moisture barrier and some hoof oil ingredients can actually dry out the hoof, leading to brittle tissues and cracks. Lower hoof strength has been found in hoof tissue that is either too dry or too moist, so tampering with the natural moisture level is not thought to be very beneficial. read more about what studies have found in this article: https://thehorse.com/130678/hoof-dressings-what-studies-show/
 

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I've had good luck with Jim Rikkens, lots of racing folks use this near me. I am trying the Hoof Doctor, it has lots of good reviews and helps other problems as well.
 

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As a temporary band aid Keratex Hoof Hardener has worked well for me.
If your current farrier is good, he for sure gave you advice about having to feed the hoof and it will take a couple of months to really see the improvement of a better feeding regimen. To tie your horse over during that time (and support the crumbling bottom wall), Keratex (along with frequent trimming) may help preventing the bottom to deteriorate too quickly.

Yes, a bottle is expensive. But you also only need a little at a time. As a tip: pour only a little (as much as you think you need) in a small container and use it from there. This will prevent a) getting dirt from the brush into the solution and b) accidentally tipping the whole bottle over while applying.
 

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Hi & welcome!

Strudel - what a cute name!

BlondRebirth;1970898421dry scorching summers with no hoof oil said:
Horses have evolved in arid environments. Hooves are MEANT to be dry(on the outside) and hoof oil is not good for them generally. Here are a couple of links to studies; https://thehorse.com/130678/hoof-dressings-what-studies-show/ & https://ker.com/equinews/hoof-dressings-helpful-harmful-humbug/ Horses have evolved as 'plains' type animals, built to live out in the open. That's not to say they may not benefit from extra shelter, or that lack of shelter is always fine, but it isn't necessarily a problem either(esp when there are so many & varied rugs available too).

I was suggested to use this product called Keratex Hoof Hardener, not the cheapest option on the market but tbh I only want the best at this point. Its a mixture thats supposed to harden and improve fragile and cracking hooves or during transition from shoed to barefoot.
I would not personally advise putting anything with formaldehyde in on a live animal myself. Yes, it does indeed harden tissue, which is why it's advised to put it on soles & frogs. But used frequently will cause them to become brittle & crack. It will do nothing for helping to grow healthier, stronger feet - for that, diet/nutrition & good trimming is your best bet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for the replies and the precious feedbacks.

Like I said, unfortunately this horse comes from a bad past of neglect and poor care so I'm sure what I'm fixing today is just the results of years of negligence by his past owner.

I've recently integrated his diet with a few supplements reccomended by the vet: manteinance grains 11.50% proteins with also hay pellets (low in oats and corn, mostly barley) and small hay cubes, full spectrum vitamins, a block of salt (to use in moderation as the horse tends to lick too much of it, get thirsty then drink a lot and develop mild diarrhea) and hoof care supplements containing biotin, methionin and other aminoacids that are supposed to help the horse develop a stronger hoof.

I dont want to overfeed this horse since the activity we do is quite light (walk, trot canter in the countrysdei 3/4 times per week) and occasionally, when we go trailing on the mountains, I add extra grains including oats to supply him for the 2/3 days of trail with extra energy. I noticed he gets hot easily with even just a little bit of extra oats or soy proteins so Im not gonna exceed, dont wanna risk any laminitis.

As for together with this hardening product I've bought a hoof ointment added with biotin and cheratine which I apply in the morning before taking him in the pasture/paddock.

Also, as weird as it might sound, some friends suggested feeeding the horse a hard boiled egg once every few days for the sulphur rich proteins in the yolk. Has anyone ever tried it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Also, I forgot to mention that I was adviced by my ferrier to avoid long exposures to wet and humidity such as muddy soils, too frequent showers and wetness in general unless I put tar on the hooves.
 

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Sounds like you're giving/doing everything you possibly can for this horse! Nice to hear. So I was wondering, is it just angle of pic, or is it his shape accurately portrayed in that pic of him - was he skinny when you got him & he's still not quite up to scratch in condition?

I've recently integrated his diet with a few supplements reccomended by the vet: manteinance grains 11.50% proteins with also hay pellets (low in oats and corn, mostly barley) and small hay cubes, full spectrum vitamins, a block of salt (to use in moderation as the horse tends to lick too much of it, get thirsty then drink a lot and develop mild diarrhea) and hoof care supplements containing biotin, methionin and other aminoacids that are supposed to help the horse develop a stronger hoof.
So, I'm not a nutritionist, just studied it as a hoof care professional. And your vet may well have done a course in equine nutrition, but then, he may not have done either, so may not be the most knowledgeable for advice on diet/nutrition. So of course, don't just take anyone's word blindly for stuff, but I suggest you do a bit of study, look into it yourself.

If your vet recommended feeding your horse grain, I guess this means he must think the horse is underweight & needs more. Trouble with modern cereal grain is that it's very high in starch & sugar, which is not great for horses. It's also hard to digest. On both these factors, oats are about the best - lowest in starch and possible to digest in the stomach - where all sugar/starch is processed. Corn is about the worst, VERY high in starch/sugar and difficult for the horse to digest. Horses have small stomachs which empty quickly. When significant amounts of undigested starch go into the 'hind gut' that's when the most issues happen, with 'hind gut acidosis', ulcers, etc. Therefore if feeding grain, ensure it's only fed little & often, rather than only 1-2 big, rich meals, as little as possible & mixed with forage. And I'd opt for oats over other grain & definitely avoid corn. There are other low/no grain, high fat options for feeds though, such as copra, ricebran, beet pulp, etc. I'd generally opt for these instead of grain/sugars, where possible.

As for nutrition/supps, perhaps your vet did blood work or diet or hair analysis, before recommending specific supps, but horses synthesise a lot of vitamins themselves in their gut(so long as it's healthy & working properly), so, so long as they're getting a good balance of minerals(including adequate salt), they don't generally need many/any extra vitamins. Vit E is often deficient & depending on their diet - if they're not getting any green pick for eg, B vitamins - of which biotin is one of - might be in short supply. And excess supps that are unnecessary are not only just a waste, but can often cause further health issues due to oversupply/imbalance. Therefore it's a good move to at least do a basic diet analysis, learn what YOUR horse is getting from his diet, before choosing whatever supps may be appropriate to 'fill the holes'. And if you're feeding the whole horse correctly, you don't need 'hoof specific' nutritional supps extra, although those supps could well be most appropriate for balancing his diet.

I add extra grains including oats to supply him for the 2/3 days of trail with extra energy. I noticed he gets hot easily with even just a little bit of extra oats or soy proteins so Im not gonna exceed, dont wanna risk any laminitis.
Appreciate this is a common idea, but if he is getting adequate diet, he should not need a 'boost' for just a few day's extra work, and it is not good to suddenly add significant quantity of feed, especially not high sugar/starch. Getting 'hot' can indeed be just about extra energy, but it is also commonly a 'symptom' of gut problems/pain. And yes, you already appreciate that excess sugars can cause laminitis too, so I'd avoid doing that.

As for together with this hardening product I've bought a hoof ointment added with biotin and cheratine which I apply in the morning before taking him in the pasture/paddock.
Outer hoof horn is largely impermeable and does not absorb anything much at all. Sole and frog material can absorb liquid. But they don't absorb/utilise nutrients from the environment. Again, feeding the horse correctly is the way to do that. 'Ointments' with biotin etc in it are simply a marketing ploy and do no more for health than all these ads for special shampoos & conditioners for 'improving health' of your hair(also dead keratin). In addition, putting 'ointments' on hooves is about(in theory at least) doing the opposite to the 'hardener'. Therefore you're kind of 'giving with one hand, taking with the other' on that note.

Also, as weird as it might sound, some friends suggested feeeding the horse a hard boiled egg once every few days for the sulphur rich proteins in the yolk. Has anyone ever tried it?
Yeah, heard about feeding eggs years ago & looked into it then. From memory(far from infallible, so don't take as gospel...), firstly, horses don't often need extra sulfur in their diet, and the proteins aren't very digestible in eggs for horses, and IF they need the nutrients specific to eggs, an animal the size of a horse will need a fair few eggs to do so. As eggs are far from covering all necessary equine nutrition, you're likely to need other supps anyway, so best to just choose ones specific to, or shown as safe for horses IMO.
 

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Sounds like you're giving/doing everything you possibly can for this horse! Nice to hear. So I was wondering, is it just angle of pic, or is it his shape accurately portrayed in that pic of him - was he skinny when you got him & he's still not quite up to scratch in condition?
The pic above is the very same day I brought him home to his new forever place and yes he was a bit underweight.

These two pics below that I would like to compare are taken in april 2020 (first) and yesterday 20th august 2020 (second) so around 4 months apart of better nutrition and above all working him 4/5 times per week plus a few trails on the mountains.



Im glad he has put at least 30/40Kg of muscles and healthy fat in the right spots. Butt muscles are starting to be visible, neck and chest ones will develop slower but Im sure I'll be able to see even more improvements in the next months/years compared to now.

Like I said this horse was completely neglected and only given hay once or twice a day.

The vet suggested adding manteinance grains/feed justifying this choice as "this is a young horse (8yo) and it benefits him having extra nutrients in his diet if he works out regularely". The vet also suggested feeding fresh fruits and vegetables except high sugar ones so for now my pick is carrots, watermelon rinds, melon rinds, parsnips, cucumbers, laving out apples, pears and even the juicy red part of the watermelon because high in sugars.

As for the hoof part, both this this ferrier and the vet are "specialized" in fixing issues with horses's feet and from what I've gathered they both have experience also in nutrition and more "technical" aspects of their job, I've found them both to be quite acknowledged about other things like macro and micro nutrients, vitamins, aminoacids, biotin, the more "chemical" side of a hoof and a whole horse lets say this.

To me, seeing him everyday, this horse is a healthy horse but Im sure addressing this hoof "issue" will take time and will need also his body to work on it because, like said before, its the result of a new years of neglect, which saddens me considering this horse is pure hearted and extremely sweet and affectionate.
 

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Yes, as everyone says, nutrition is crucial. His hoove will not improve until that changes. That being said, I have a senior Arab (21) who tends to get a lot of cracks and chips in the summer. He has great nutrition (the balance of minerals is key - get his diet analyzed and add in what he needs by consulting an equine nutritionist who is NOT a rep for a company that just wants to sell you their food). He gets trimmed every four weeks. He is ridden on grass or sand, but there are some really big rocks in his pasture where they cross a brook to get to the back area. As a result (and possibly because it's hard to fix a lifetime of less-than-optimal nutrition), he still gets a lot of cracks and chips. He is my daughter's show horse, so this is not desirable in the show ring.

I looked for solutions, and briefly booted him when he was being ridden. This was a hassle (I got Easyboot Gloves and find them hard to get on and off) and they only really fit snugly at a certain point in the trim cycle. Over time, they stretched, and are now a little loose. They just look clunky for jumping, but I know some people do it, and I'm guessing that if you have unlimited cash, you can buy better quality boots specifically for jumping. I thought about glue-on shoes, but those are very pricey too. My trimmer suggested Hoof Armour. It is an epoxy-type product that can go on the entire hoof including frog, sole, and outer wall. I mostly apply to the sole (because he can sometimes get tender and have bruises on his sole) and just the bottom of the outer wall. After just a month, he has not had a single chip or crack (compared to weekly chips and cracks that I would have to rasp away so they didn't get worse). The starter kit (includes applicator) was 85$ and it should be enough for at least 3 months. Refiills are even cheaper now that I have the applicator. My trimmer showed me how to apply it and it's very easy. This product is permeable so it doesn't seal anything in or out, but just gives a little extra protection from the elements. The newest version of the product also contains antibacterial ingredients so if there is anything going on, you are also taking care of that. It's mostly a band-aid solution, but sometimes, we need a band-aid for a little extra protection. It's so easy to apply though, inexpensive, and great for the DIY person, that I don't see the downside of it.
 

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I'd be careful how much more you feed this horse up. He's border line too fat now. Being hafflinger they are easy keeps an tend to be obese.

You will end up with a bigger problem then cracked hoof walls. If you get him obese he'll founder.

I'd go with a good vit/min and some carrier to mix it in. Personally I'd ditch the fresh veggies and fruits.

His feet from what I can see look just fine. There's nothing wrong with feeding just hay. My horses are on a forage diet only no grain low sugar/starch diet. I give a vit/min by horse Tech mixed in alfalfa pellets. Grass hay that's tested some pasture time that's it. No fruits no veggies.
@Acadianartist keeps her horses looking really nice weight wise.
 

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I have used Keratex for many years in my horses. Another good product that is better on the wallet is Dursole. Its purple and is sold at most Feed stores and on Amazon.

Important Reminder for Hoof health: low grain intake, high hay/grass intake. Sugar and carbs destroys the laminae.
 

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If there is good grass and hay available the what I have found is that even with draft types there is no need for grain unless they are putting in an old fashioned days work out in the fields or woods. Forage should be a mix of grass types and legume though it doesn't have to be.

As for shelter, a corpse of trees for shade, a line if dense plantings for a wind break which could be incorporated in the tree line on the outer edge and enough slope to allow for good drainage. A couple of wet spots are a good thing and a small po nd or wet area at the water source can be beneficial. If the muck and mud were incessant and there was no break that isn't good. Horses do best with room to roam and not penned.

Even riding most days of the week unless it is all day it isn't going to he considered hard work needing extra. Adding in a bit if cantering doesn't change that. Forage can cover for it.

What hasn't been covered are the amounts by weight you are providing as that will be your determination as to what he needs.
 

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IF the vet is indeed knowledgeable about equine digestion, nutrition, etc, I don't understand why, esp when the horse is not thin, not in hard work, would suggest feeding grain. I'm guessing he hasn't seen the horse for some time & the horse was thin when you got him, obviously before these pics. Or perhaps the vet hasn't stayed up to date with his knowledge & has some outdated ideas - the way equine digestion worked wasn't well understood & traditionally grain is/was a common feed & people didn't understand the implications. Whatever, it appears he def doesn't need the extra calories now anyway. He looks good, but as Rambo mentioned, wouldn't want him any fatter.

If your vet is knowledgeable about equine nutrition, I presume you have already done a diet analysis, he's pulled blood etc, so he can tell you exactly what/how much you need to supp. What was he lacking/imbalanced n, as that might tell us what to expect with his feet.

If you'd like more specific opinions or advice on your horses feet, you could post some pics.
 

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@Acadianartist keeps her horses looking really nice weight wise.
That's very kind, but right now Rusty is wearing a grazing muzzle! He has put on too much weight from grass. My horses get no grain, no fruit or veggies. Treats are home made with flax seed and cinnamon, not much else. The cinnamon fools them into thinking they're sweet. And they get very, very tiny pieces and they don't get them every day.

I have to agree with everyone that there is no need for grain. My horses get beet pulp (no molasses), timothy hay cubes, hay in slow-feeder nets, and limited grazing. I get my hay analyzed, then figure out what minerals are missing and have those custom mixed by Mad Barn. We have high iron in my area, but zero selenium, so I make sure I add selenium, zinc, copper, manganese, but no iron in anything, including the salt licks (they get plain white blocks and I add salt to their food). I do give camelina oil because I find it does wonders for their coats and skin and Harley, my senior, gets a few extra things for his joints.
 
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