By Dr. Rick Shakalis 

The interaction of two or more substances or forces so their net combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts is the definition of Synergy.  For example, by using two SBS hoof care products at the same time, Starting Gate Granules  (feed supplement) and TOE GROW GEL (topical), you will get better results than if each were used independently.

Why are there hoof problems?

Domesticated Horse

Despite our finest effort to keep our horses healthy, we often get frustrated by dealing with their seemingly never-ending hoof problems.  From thrush, white line disease, insufficient growth of the hoof wall, to lameness issues, it seems like horses could not possibly survive without us.  We blame them for their “soft feet” and “white hooves,” but in truth, these problems would not exist if we had not pulled horses from their natural environment into ours. When in the wild, horses are able to roam barefoot over large expanses of grasslands and patches of hard ground which naturally trims and toughens their hooves.  A barefoot horse in its natural state exhibits a low heel, a rolled toe, a sufficient amount of hoof growth and virtually no hoof disease.

Some five thousand years ago, a blink on the evolutionary timeline, man broke this pattern of perfection when they began domesticating horses.  As soon as they took horses away from their natural environment and stalled them, hoof problems began.

Hoof evolution is a marvel of Mother Nature!

The latest scientific evidence shows horses evolved from doglike creatures some sixty million years ago in the semi-arid grasslands of North America. Survival of the species favored larger and faster horses better able to escape predators and their genes were passed on to successive generations.  As horses began to look like the animals we are familiar with today, their hooves evolved as well and became marvels of Mother Nature’s engineering.

Horses can run !

Horses designed to run!

Strong and flexible, collagen made a perfect substance for the structure of a hoof wall charged with supporting an ever larger, heavier animal.  As the horse applied weight to his foot, blood pooled between the coffin bone and frog was vigorously pumped back to the less stressed heart machining its job easier.  This increased blood flow through the coronary band also resulted in a healthy amount of hoof growth by making vital nutrients and oxygen available to this vital tissue.  The hoof had become a complex, dynamic structure for an animal that was designed to run.

The inevitable “muck” in stalls contains ammonia from urine which breaks down collagen and a weakening of the hoof wall resulting in softer hooves.  As horses became increasingly more sedentary, less blood pumped though the coronary band as well resulting in a less than ideal growth rate.  Together, these factors led to the ”necessary evil” of shoeing, and by placing a non-flexible metal shoe on a structure that is designed by nature to flex, this practice inadvertently caused a myriad of iatrogenic problems for a horse.

Observing millions of years of evolution brings us to this sobering conclusion: Horses don’t have hoof problems, they have people problems. Unless we let our horses loose to run freely tromping over our neighbor’s lawns, a new approach to hoof care must be taken.  Fortunately there are equine companies that understand the complexities of treating the modern horse and can do so successfully by drawing on the concept of Synergy (combining the use of our two products).

How Synergy benefits the hoof !

Topical gel increases blood flow to hoof when applied at coronet band!

Let’s take a particularly difficult situation to treat using the principles of synergy, that of insufficient hoof growth. We know that if our horse were able to run freely at a distance of twenty miles a day like its wild ancestors, this wouldn’t be a problem.  Most horses don’t have that luxury.  We must somehow stimulate the coronary band to produce more collagen and fortunately we can accomplish this by applying copper peptides to this vital area.

Copper peptides have been used for years to increase collagen production in skin care products and wound repair.  Fortunately, SBS EQUINE has a copper peptide product called TOE GROW SPRAY or GEL, and when placed on the coronary band it has been shown to have the desired effect of promoting hoof wall growth. When used in conjunction with one of its other nutritional products, however, the synergistic effects of the two products cannot be denied.

When a horse that is treated with a combination of TOE GROW GEL or Spray and a regimen of STARTING GATE nutritional granules, the results are exponential.  Perhaps it’s the phospholipids that allow for efficient digestion of the building blocks of collagen or its preventing of equine ulcers, we cannot be sure, but what we do know is that the products work together synergistically to benefit the hoof.

Just as we have put modern horses in a position to be less healthy than their undomesticated ancestors, we also have the intellectual capacity to treat them.  Going one step further utilizing the concept of Synergy, we can come up with more than a treatment, we can come up with a solution.

Starting Gate Granules

Using Supplements with TOE GROW SPRAY or GEL complement each other to improve the hoof condition from the inside/out using both the horse’s digestive system and nervous system.  Results have shown significant improvement to hooves when used in as little as 3 weeks.  Using the principal of Synergy, the hoof care industry has a new tool to advance hoof care to a new level the way Mother Nature has intended.

(Dr. Shakalis is co-founder and lead researcher for SBS EQUINE for 30 years. For more information on equine health issues go to

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