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  1. #1
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    Jan. 7, 2008
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    Default Soft crumbling hoof walls - sorry, long.

    Sigh. I am so bummed we are having this problem again.

    First a disclaimer: I have tried the barefoot route. And I realize some folks think all horses can go barefoot. I tended to agree, but have not found is the case with this horse. I can provide details if necessary - but a discussion between barefoot vs. shoes is not what I'm going for here. If I could go barefoot, believe me, I SO would.

    This horse is just one of those with genetically crappy feet. Last summer, it was especially bad - his hoof walls just fell apart by mid-summer and there was nothing to nail shoes into. We went through the whole using products to build a fake hoof wall/give something to nail into, until the hoof wall grew back down. It was a pain in the a$$ and extremely expensive. But kept horse sound.

    Frustrated with continuous hoof problems, I worked with a equine nutritionalist in the fall to break down his diet and pinpoint possible problem areas. Analyzed hay, etc. He's an air fern and doesn't get much grain to start with, but we switched according to her recommendations and use a grass/hay ratio balancer from Progressive and hoof supplement (with high levels of copper and zinc). We've kept him off spring grass this year as well - just in case that was the source of the problem last year. He is turned out quite a bit, gets worked, looks good. Free choice hay. The diet aspect seems under control. Hooves got better over the winter.

    Last report card from the farrier (10 weeks ago) was great - good hoof walls, good sole, a little slow to grow, but not bad. Came to reset shoes yesterday and not a good report - the hoof walls have gotten very soft again. When he clinches down the nail, it is like clinching into butter in spots. Not all of the hoof - just parts - and only in one front hoof. So far.

    But we seem to be starting down the same road as last summer - both front feet, crumbling walls all around.

    Now, it has been rather wet here recently. I board, and the barn I board at hoses feet/legs when they come in if it is particularly muddy (he gets horrible scratches if this is not done) and then they are put into stalls for the night. So there are wet/dry cycles going on. And he wears bell boots 24/7 to protect his front shoes as he tends to step on the sides of them with the opposite front foot. I imagine the rubber bell boot probably traps moisture as well.

    I don't know if this could be the sole cause of the problem or not. Thoughts? It is hard boarding - only so much you can ask - and I can only get there 2 or 3 times a week due to my job. I HAVE to have the bell boots on. Maybe I could ask them not to hose - but he'd be coming in with mud up to his knees and that would dry out in the stall as well - I am guessing the quick hose down doesn't make his hoofs any wetter than they already are in the mud and plus it helps prevent scratches. And it is not like they are standing in mud knee deep all day - the area by the gates just gets particularly muddy and they have to come through it to get out/in. Otherwise, they are on fairly dry pasture areas.

    I have tried Keratex Hoof Hardener and Tough Stuff. Neither seem to help the problem. Haven't tried the Hoof Gel yet. Are there any other products people could recommend to harden hoof walls and protect from wet conditions?

    It seems like this is the time of the year they go soft and crumble...then as things dry out in July/August...the crumblings just crack and chip off. I have him in fly boots already to cut down on any possible stomping to minimize that stress on the hoof walls.

    Help! Thank you!



  2. #2
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    Oct. 19, 2005
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    Default

    Something might still be missing - if a horse gets scratches on a regular basis and means to me his skin (and possibly immune system) is to weak to fight off opportunistic invaders. Skin is made up of the same component as hooves, so there's a possible connection here. Something might still be missing that he needs to grow healthy skin and hooves.

    If one horse out of 3 in the same environment gets scratches, it means this horse is too weak to fight it off, while the other 2 are healthier.

    You said he improved quite a bit on tight diet managment and hoof supplement. Is he still on the hoof supplement? I would also focus on boosting his immune system from the inside out, making sure he gets enough Vit E & Selenium for example and anything else that might help. Have his selenium levels checked and take it from there.

    Having said all that I had a few unusual cases where the hooves just would not come around - they improved a bit but continued to have issues. Here are some additional factors affecteing hoof health:
    • In one case I later learned the horse was sampling bracken ferns in her pasture that caused her to have low levels of chronic laminitis that made her hooves fall apart
    • The other had an unusually heavy wormload (round worms), despite regular worming, that interfered with good hoof health
    • Iron in forage and watrer competes with zinc & copper uptake, in case you have not yet explored this possibility
    • Gut issues, such as ulcers or ineffective digestion could also be a contributing factor.
    I hope you will find the root cause - best wishes!



  3. #3
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    Jan. 7, 2008
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    Default

    Thanks BornToRide for all of the ideas. You bring up good points.

    To address some questions - yes, he's still on tight diet control and the hoof supplement. Have not changed anything in regards to diet.

    This horse may well have a defective immune system - he had EPM as a 4 yr old as well. He's in a herd of 8 other horses and no one else has a problem with soft hoof walls. One or two of the others seem to also get scratches upon occasion, but certainly not all of them. He also gets fungal infections on his back legs above the hock each spring. As such, I'm very careful with vaccinations and space them out and only give what is absolutely necessary.

    Had been supporting the immune system for a number of years with high levels of Vitamin E and made no difference in hoof quality. Checked selenium and iron levels last fall as part of this nutritional analysis. Both well within normal range. Hay was analyzed and was not found to be too high in iron or too low in selenium. He does get water from a well (source of iron) so we are just super careful not to feed him anything with additional iron as an ingredient. (For example, Horse Journal's new #1 rated Hoof Supplement contains iron...so I couldn't use it.)

    Not currently supplementing with anything that might help immune function. The other trick is that this guy is EXTREMELY picky about what he will eat and it has been a chore getting him to eat supplements in general. He does well with the hoof one as it is a pellet and he can't eat around it. Not really sure what else to do for the immune system.

    I guess worms could be a possibility - they get wormed every other month, but if something was resistant, I guess that could happen. He has a pretty good body score and might even be a little on the chubby side at the moment and his coat is sleek, shiny and full of dapples, which makes me think he doesn't have a belly full of worms though.

    It is really frustrating. No one quite understands.



  4. #4
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    Mar. 29, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    If one horse out of 3 in the same environment gets scratches, it means this horse is too weak to fight it off, while the other 2 are healthier.
    OR, it could mean that the one horse has 'feathers' on the lower legs and the other two do not. The other two's legs would dry better then, right? When one hears hoofbeats, it is a good idea to think horses before thinking zebras.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by chancellor2 View Post
    OR, it could mean that the one horse has 'feathers' on the lower legs and the other two do not. The other two's legs would dry better then, right? When one hears hoofbeats, it is a good idea to think horses before thinking zebras.
    No feathers on all horses. None of the horses shaved either - only one had the problem actually out of 5 horses. All WBs.

    Plus after treatment affected horse never had this problem again. It has been 4 years. He still lives in the same environment.



  6. #6
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    BTR, HOW do you know there are no feathers on any of the horses that Trake girl is talking about?



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by chancellor2 View Post
    BTR, HOW do you know there are no feathers on any of the horses that Trake girl is talking about?
    As usual, you are missing the point



  8. #8
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    No, I am not. You said if one out of three horses is having a problem in the same environment it is likely that horse's health or immune system being the problem.
    As usual, you missed the OBVIOUS question which is does that one horse a physical condition (such as feathers) that the other horses do not have. As usual, you went off on your cause du jour.
    Any decent horseperson would resolve the obvious questions before making wild judgements about zebras.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chancellor2 View Post
    No, I am not. You said if one out of three horses is having a problem in the same environment it is likely that horse's health or immune system being the problem.
    As usual, you missed the OBVIOUS question which is does that one horse a physical condition (such as feathers) that the other horses do not have. As usual, you went off on your cause du jour.
    Any decent horseperson would resolve the obvious questions before making wild judgements about zebras.
    Lovely person that you are, you are also insulting the owner of the horse by assuming she did not extensively explore treatment options for recurrent scratches, which most likely would have included keeping the area as dry as possible by removing excess hair. Reading the owner's originally post, it seems to me that she is very detailed and comprehensive about how she approaches the care of her horse!



  10. #10
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    Actually not insulting to the OP at all. She did not specifically say that she had. You do know what they say about ASSuming, right? I try not to make assumptions.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 7, 2008
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    Hi.

    Yes. He has feathers. Yes, I trim them and keep the hair in that area to a minimum during scratches season.

    No. He's not a zebra.



  12. #12
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    Nov. 3, 2003
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    Your horse's feet are likely coming apart because they are wet. It doesn't take much. My horse's feet fall apart from the wetness of dewy grass this time every year.

    Here is a good article about it: http://www.equipodiatry.com/news/wet_feet.htm



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by imissvixen View Post
    Your horse's feet are likely coming apart because they are wet. It doesn't take much. My horse's feet fall apart from the wetness of dewy grass this time every year.

    Here is a good article about it: http://www.equipodiatry.com/news/wet_feet.htm
    So what do you do about it?

    They seem to get damaged now - probably due to moisture, I am starting to believe - and then they remain soft all summer...where they chip, crack and it is almost impossible to keep shoes on him and he goes lame.

    He is turned out almost 24/7 in the spring when the weather is nice (dry lot with hay), but I am sure there is some moisture on the ground in the morning, etc, in addition to the mud by the gates. Not sure how to avoid the hooves getting wet in the spring - I can't just keep him in a stall 24/7 by himself!

    Clearly, he needs to wear Wellies outside? LOL.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by imissvixen View Post
    Your horse's feet are likely coming apart because they are wet. It doesn't take much. My horse's feet fall apart from the wetness of dewy grass this time every year.

    Here is a good article about it: http://www.equipodiatry.com/news/wet_feet.htm
    But if wetness makes hooves fall apart, why are not all horses in a wet climate affected the same way? Somehow this horse's hooves are weaker in which case the wetness has a greater impact and weakens the hooves even more. The question still remains: "Why are they weaker compared to other hooves".



  15. #15
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    Why are my eyes blue and yours are green? Why do some people get cancer and some don't?

    Here are the lessons I have learned for keeping your horse's feet dry and intact over the summer when in NC the grass is wet every night from about 9 pm until 10 am the next morning.

    Best solution is day time turnout. Start at 10 am and leave out until about 10 pm. Unfortunately it is the hottest and buggiest time of the day.

    Second solution is night time turnout and in deep sawdust during the day. Lots of Keratex. Pick out the feet the minute the horse comes in and dry them off. Don't let the horse go too long between shoeings. I do 5 weeks. Ask your farrier to use small nails. Pack the nail holes regularly with Keratex putty. My farrier suggests putting car wax on the hoof wall and my vet thought that was an okay idea if it would keep all the moisture from getting in the hoof. Use Gold Bond powder to dry off the feet.

    I have two horses that live within about 10 feet of each other no matter where they are. One has this problem, the other doesn't. Go figure. I do know it's the moisture because my old vet bet me that it was then she took care of my horses for four weeks last summer while I went somewhere. She kept them in a very dry location -- no grass, very dry -- and his feet were beautiful. It lasted all the way until about a month ago.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by imissvixen View Post
    Why do some people get cancer and some don't?
    .
    Exactly my point - a weakness of some sort. Here's a good example - 3 women all diagnosed with breast cancer, all in the same family. Grandma, mom and daughter. Each one diagnosed a decade earlier in life. Only daughter is the long term (10 years now) survivor after she decided against chemo and radiation, which did not work well at all for her mom and grandma and fully embraced alternative holistic and organic diet treatments The daughter is a client of mine.



  17. #17
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    Trim could be off.



  18. #18
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    I would not accept the recurring scratches as "that's just how he is". I DO feel strongly that recurring issues like that mean there is something missing in the immune system area.

    You said you checked his Se level and it's within normal. I think I would, with my vet's watchful eye (ie drawing blood every 60-90 days) see about getting his Se level on the higher side of normal. In my fairly limited experience with Se issues, but also having spoken to my vet at length about this, there are some horses who need to maintain a higher "normal" level to actually be normal.

    You say you add cu/zn - how much exactly? Again, that may not be enough. Having well water, potentially high in iron, may mean that he's just constantly cu-deficient (high iron inhibits cu-absorption, as well as zn) and needs even MORE. I have to add about 100mg Cu for my WB gelding, on top of whatever he gets in his hay/grass and vites, to keep his scratches (and coat-fading btw) away (and minimized re: fading).

    I too would check the trim - some horses have such genetically strong feet that they can take a lot of imbalance before starting to fall apart, but some cannot tolerate even a little imbalance.

    Since moisture seems to be a problem, I would not turn out at night and stall during the day - night is when you're extremely likely to have dew-laden grass. That, combined with the moisture-sucking sawdust, is a recipe for trouble, especially with shoes on.

    I also think it's worth addressing parasite and making 1000% sure that's not an issue. It's not difficult to find scientific articles linking parasite loads and poor immune systems. When was the last power pack? What has been his schedule for the last couple of years?
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BornToRide View Post
    ..... decided against chemo and radiation, which did not work well at all for her mom and grandma and fully embraced alternative holistic and organic diet treatments The daughter is a client of mine.
    AHHH.....So, did you cure her?



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sketcher View Post
    AHHH.....So, did you cure her?
    No - she cured herself!



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