What to do for Dry, Cracked Hooves & Hoof Splits !
You may be surprised to know that most dry, cracked hooves are a direct result of the living conditions and grounds where horses board, and not from dry weather patterns as one would expect. Wet ground conditions such as damp pastures, stalls, and washing areas can promote rapid drying of the feet, similar to mud after a rain storm. Large horses with small feet commonly have hoof dryness problems. Horses also can have dry/cracked feet from long dry weather patterns in the summer or in a dry climate. The natural oil and protective film of the feet are eroded from constant contact with external moisture and result in dry feet. Soaking dry feet in water can make the situation worse. Also, stalled horses have no natural protection against the effects of ammonia (from urine) on their feet. Many topically applied organic compounds are also worn away by ammonia.
Do hoof conditioner/dressings used for dry hooves make any claims to moisturize the feet?
Moisturizing hooves externally with water, cream, lotion, salves or anything else, is a myth. That is not how it works. Most experts agree that over 90% of the moisture needed in a healthy foot comes from the blood supply within the hoof. The function of a hoof conditioner/dressing, therefore, is to keep the moisture inside the hoof. Hoof conditioners moisturize the hoof by sealing-in the internal moisture. Excess moisture inside the hoof is transpirated through the coronet band and the sole. This is how the hoof breathes and maintains its moisture balance. In essence, all hoof conditioners/dressings that claim to moisturize are really hoof sealants.
Treatment Options (what are the differences between hoof conditioners)
Generally, there two types of hoof conditioners/dressings that are sold as moisturizers. They are either made of 1). Organic Compounds or 2). Polymeric Compounds. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
1). ORGANIC COMPOUNDS : Waxes/oils (fats) from animals: beeswax, lanolin, emu oil, fish oil, neat foot oil; from plants: tea tree oil, aloe vera, pine tar, caster oil, linseed oil, cottonseed oil, wheat germ oil, peppermint oil, jojoba oil, carnauba.
Economical– less expensive ingredients, lower price point. Appearance– provides glossy look, oily film reflects light. Water repellant – helps keep out external moisture. Moisturizes– helps keep in internal moisture. Sole & frog – can also apply to bottom of feet .
Life expectancy– wears off, reapply more frequently. Non drying– usually remains wet/ oily, attracts contaminates. Less absorbing– oil does not mix well with water. Ammonia – urine & fertilizer wear away protective coat.
2). POLYMERIC (Synthetic) COMPOUNDS: Synthetic compounds are petroleum based plastics (polyurethane, polyethylene, silicones) and natural polymeric compounds (nitro-cellulose).
Quick drying- hard dry finish doesn’t attract contaminates. Stronger finish– synthetic coatings last longer, resist abrasion. Less Maintenance– do not have to reapply as often. Chemical resistant– not affected by ammonia or fertilizers. Seals cracks/holes– stops pathways of infection & moisture
Strong odor– need proper ventilation. Cost– petroleum based chemicals cost more. Shelf life- shorter shelf life due to solvent evaporation. Coverage-not intended for bottom of feet.
What is the best SBS product for very dry feet ?
Farrier’s Hoof Sealant II has been improved; 60 % larger size and 4 million more microfibers per bottle. The product is a great choice for extremely dry feet because:
1). It’s the longest lasting sealant (two weeks in field tests). 2). Microfibers web-seal nail holes and cracks. 3). Tough coating helps to hold nail clinches to prevent thrown shoes. 4). It is a polymeric compound that dries in two minutes. 5). It is impervious to ammonia, fertilizers and water. 6). Saves time and money (apply only every two weeks). 7). Tougher and much stronger than organic compounds. 8). Farrier’s Hoof Sealant has been on the market for 25 years and has proven the test of time. 9). The Horse-Journal named it Editors Choice in 2010 and said they especially like it for dry feet in the June 2012 issue.