The Holistichorse.com Magazine had a really great article by Bryan S. Farcus MA, CJF all about the health challenges that are reflected in the hooves. The old saying of “Everything goes straight to the hooves” is a reality. Check out the June/July issue for the complete article and more.
Our bodies (both human and horse) are designed to defend against a variety of infectious, disease-causing agents or pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses.
It has been said that a horse’s hoof can be considered a window into the state of his health, acting as a barometer by reflecting (through the external expression of the hoof wall growth ring patterns) how much pressure/stress the horse’s body is experiencing.
Even under normal circumstances your horse faces many conditions that could challenge his health:
- Sudden weather/temperature change
- Climate extremes of wet or dry
- Mineral toxicity- i.e., selenium in large amounts (usually 5ppm and greater)
- Vitamin deficiency- Vitamin A is essential for normal hoof growth. If a horse is deficient in Vitamin A his feet can lose all elasticity and bonding capability and the hoof can become “crumbly” and literally fall apart.
- Viral infections – among the most common are Influenza, Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) and various combinations of encephalomyelitis, such as Eastern (EEE), Western (WEE) or Venezuelan (VEE).
When you develop a keen eye for reading your horses hooves, the first indicator of any trouble will be reflected in the horizontal rings that surround a hoof from the hairline to the ground. On the healthiest hoof, these rings should be hard to spot; they are evenly spaced, smooth to the touch , and correspond as an exact parallel to the coronary band region of the hoof. The presence of these slightly perceptible hoof rings is normal.
One of the first visual indicators of a hoof reaction to any stressor will be a slight indented growth ring or coronary band depression, appearing just below the hairline of the hoof wall. In the following weeks as this growth pattern continues, these rings, often referred to as fever rings, may become more wavy and sporadic.
Awareness of stress-inducing situations, and guarding against them, will aid in the prevention of the development of abnormal and unwanted hoof rings – a sure sign your horse is reacting to some sort of stressor.
If or when you notice any stress rings coming on, EasyCare has the protective hoof boots and Comfort hoof pads to help ease the stressful times and add lots of comfort and promote natural hoof care when in need. Keep these products in your array of hoof care products and you will be ready if your horse should have any episodes.