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Horse health check: 12) Feet

Hooves can be great indicators of overall hoof health. Poor quality horn in the feet can be suggestive of nutritional deficiencies, and rings can be signs of previous episodes of laminitis or stress. Any big sand cracks from the top of the hoof, or grass cracks from the bottom of the hoof, should be looked at by a farrier, but can also suggest issues with hoof quality and shape. In cases where the diet is balanced but the horse is still having issues with poor-quality horn, it is worth considering supplementing the horse’s diet with biotin, copper and zinc.

Of course, conformation plays a large part in hoof shape, and you do have to work with what your horse has. However, just as with legs – if you know what is normal for your horse you will be in a better position to spot issues before they become bigger problems. Farriers often have great strategies for gradually overcoming hoof issues and weaknesses, so it is well worth discussing any concerns you have with them.