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A few weeks ago, we decided to start an experiment with hoof dressings. We had seen a lot about how no topical treatments should be used on hooves and, if anything, water could be used in the dry months to keep the hoof moist.
This is because great hoof growth comes from within and is dependent on a good diet, this we absolutely will not dispute!
But while great hoof growth comes from within, is there anything we can do from the outside to help keep our horses’ feet healthy?
We believe that the answer is yes after our experiment. We used one horse so that we knew it was a fair trial. The horse’s feet weren’t perfect; he was only being fed hay and grass at the time, no additional supplements; and he wasn’t long off needing a trim. We only did the experiment for a week so didn’t give any treatment very long to work.
1. On his left fore, we used Silverfeet hoof balm. We found that the Silverfeet got into the little cracks from the hoof being dry and helped the whole hoof look more healthy and moisturised. The Silverfeet seemed to disappear straight away as it was absorbed which we considered a good sign. While we can’t say what’s really going on in the hoof, we thought that the Silverfeet encouraged the hoof growth as, if you look at the pictures of the front feet, the cracks on the right (horse’s left fore) seem to be smaller, less pronounced and lower down, indicating that the growth has come from higher up.
2. On the left hind, we used Carr & Day & Martin Hoof Dressing. The Hoof Dressing seemed to do lots to improve the cracks in the hoof as well, but the Hoof Dressing was quite thick and didn’t seem to be quite as easily absorbed. It sat on the outside of the hoof more than the Silverfeet which resulted in it being rubbed off more easily. This meant that in the picture of the hind, you can see that the toe of the hoof is slightly more dry than the fore. However, while it was on there, it did a very good job and must have trapped the moisture as it was more of a barrier.
3. The right fore had nothing applied to it which left it looking cracked due to the hot weather. It also left this hoof susceptible to the slightly bigger cracks which can be seen. The horse is ridden totally barefoot, the topical moisturiser helped to stop the hoof from becoming brittle but, where he didn’t have anything on, his foot broke more easily, rather than just wearing down.
4. On the right hind, we used water. We sprayed with the hose or brushed on water and spent about the same time doing this as we would have to brush the treatments on so that it was fair. Unfortunately the picture is slightly blurry which we didn’t realise at the time but couldn’t go back and take another picture as we started treating all his feet when the experiment was over. The water didn’t seem to help with the cracks as much as the other treatments, and we were left with a couple of small breaks from riding. However, we thought that it did do more than nothing. If we had spent more time hosing the foot with water, instead of making it a fair test, it could have ended up doing more and, therefore been a viable treatment.
Personally, we thought that the topical hoof dressings made a positive difference, more so than the water. We also thought that the horse’s left side (right if you’re looking at the pictures) did look better than his right side. The difference the balms made in such a short time showed that they are a quick solution to cracking and poor hoof quality, though do need to be paired with the correct nutrients to improve the hoof from within.
Our personal favourite out of the treatments used was Silverfeet but other people’s opinions on the most effective treatment may differ, and we know some would rather the natural approach so we would love to hear people’s thoughts on which hoof you think is best or if you have an alternative treatment which you would like us to test in the same way! Please keep comments kind and constructive. Though opinions are welcome, negativity is not!
Finally, huge thanks to our sponsors who sent out prizes for our competition to guess which treatment had been used on which horse! Farm and Stable Supplies, Silverfeet, Horsemart and Equine Superstore all sent out fantastic prizes!
We will chose a winner at random, out of everyone who answered correctly in our competition over Facebook and Instagram.
The winner will receive:
The winner will be announced on our Facebook page and if you liked this competition and experiment, don’t forget to follow our page for many more!