Hoof Irregularities: Club Foot

Arguably, the most important parts of a horse’s anatomy are the hooves.  The hooves are literally the foundation on which the horse is built.  Unfortunately, hoof structure is complicated, and there is an entire spectrum of hoof irregularities you may come across.  One abnormality that can range from mild to severe is club foot.

Club foot is characterized by a very steep angle of the hoof wall.   The heel is very high and will not touch the ground.  There is a dish shape at the toe, and a bulging at the coronet band.

two horse hooves, one is a club foot
The club foot has a much higher heel than the other.

The horse appears to be standing on its “tippy toes.”  That’s because, it basically is.  Club foot is a flexural deformity of the coffin joint, in which the back of the coffin joint is pulled upward.  Horses can be born with club foot, which can appear in either front or hind hooves, in a single hoof or in pairs.  Or, horses can develop club foot.  This most often occurs when a horse is two to six months old, due to rapid growth, nutrition imbalances, overexertion, or genetic predisposition.

two horse hooves, one is a club foot
The hoof angle is more steep with club foot.

Club foot can range from mild to severe.  Farriers use a grade scale, based on the angle of the hoof wall.  Depending on the severity, horses can maintain some level of soundness with proper shoeing and care.  In more extreme cases, weight bearing is painful and the horse will always be lame.

diagram of 4 horse hooves
Club foot degrees of severity

A horse with club foot will have that hoof for life.  It is not something that can be fixed.  Do not try and force the hoof to take a different shape with trimming and shoeing.  Instead, work closely with a knowledgeable farrier and trim the hooves to manage and maintain the horse’s comfort.  The horse will most likely need to be shod more often than the average 6-8 weeks, and may have an uneven gait without being lame.

For more information on providing your horse with balanced nutrition, visit Dr. Bray’s Corner on our Integrity Horse Feed website.



Making a Plan to Manage Obesity

brown horse in grass field

It’s easy for horse owners to say their horse is just a little overweight, or big boned, but it’s difficult for them to recognize that their horse might be seriously overweight or even obese. Carrying too much weight can create serious health concerns for your horse, and it’s ultimately up to you as an owner to fix the situation.

Obesity is linked to insulin resistance, laminitis, developmental orthopedic disease, osteoarthritis, lameness, poor cardiovascular conditioning, and several other ailments.

The first step towards helping your horse lose weight is recognizing just how overweight they are. Assess your horse’s body condition score (BCS) and determine how far they are away from the ideal BCS of 5. For tips on body condition scoring, read Dr. Bray’s article here.

For your horse to lose weight, they need to be in a caloric deficit. That means they are burning more calories than they are consuming each day. Consider your horse’s activity level when feeding. A more active horse will require more calories than a sedentary horse. But even an active horse can be fed too much and be overweight.

Develop a weight management plan with your trusted equine veterinarian and nutritionist. Set realistic goals and keep in mind that changes will be gradual. Here are some key components of a weight management plan:

Increase exercise

This can be as simple as moving your horse from a stall to a larger pasture, or more structured like increasing the frequency they are ridden or lunged.

Restrict grazing

A properly fitting grazing muzzle can work wonders for an overweight horse living on pasture. It will limit the amount of grass your horse can consume by slowing them down and making them take smaller bites of grass.

Choose the right forage and feeding amounts

Choose a hay that is high in fiber and low in energy. This will help your horse feel full without adding extra calories. Alfalfa is not an ideal choice for the overweight horse. Instead, choose a mature grass hay. Feed 1 – 1.5% of your horse’s body weight in forage per day, split in to as many meals as possible.

Hold back on grains

When adding a balanced feed supplement to your horse’s forage, avoid grains. Look for a feed that contains essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your horse needs, with a high fiber content. Consider feeding Integrity Lite, available with our without molasses. Its nutrition profile makes is a great choice for overweight horses, or horses that are less active and require less calories in their diet.

Increase feeding time

Encourage your horse to spend more time eating. Using a haynet with small openings, or doubling up on haynets, will keep your horse from taking big bites of food. Remember that a horse’s digestive system is designed to be eating small amounts of food over long period of time. Anything you can do to help your horse eat this way, will help them maintain a proper weight and healthy digestion.

Most importantly, stay consistent.  Reevaluate your horse’s BCS every few weeks, and make sure they stay on track.

Spring Babies Part 2: Feeding A New Foal

baby horse resting in grass field

Congratulations!  You’re now the proud human parent of a beauty bouncing baby!  New foals are such a joy to have in the barn.  Watching them explore the world around them and grow into their potential is such a wonderful experience.  As with all babies, foals grow very quickly!  You’ll want to make sure you are giving your foal the correct nutrition to support this growth and maintain good health.  Integrity Mare & Foal is formulated specifically to meet these needs.

baby horse nursing on mother horse
New foals get 100% of their nutrition from mother’s milk.

Foaling – 2 Months

  • Your foal is born weighing 90 pounds!
  • He gets 100% of his nutrition from mother’s milk
  • He is rapidly growing! By 2 months, he’ll have reached over 20% of his mature weight!
  • Introduce Integrity Mare & Foal as early as 3 weeks but no later than 8 weeks.
    • Use the creep feeding method (feeding foals separately from mares).
    • Feed conservatively, start with ½ pound per day, split in to 2 feedings.
    • The 5/32 inch pellet size is easily broken down by your foal’s saliva, so it’s easy for baby to chew.
    • Its 16% protein is from sources containing high enough levels of Lysine, an amino acid required for growth.
    • It is calcium-phosphorus balanced, and contains balanced levels of nutrients your foal needs.
  • By 3 weeks, your foal will start to explore mother’s food, munching hay and drinking water.
  • By 8 weeks, your growing foal requires more energy than mother’s milk alone can supply.
    • Her milk supply will also begin to naturally decrease during this time.

3 Months – Weaning

  • At 4 months, your foal is 36% of his mature weight (360 pounds)
    • He will gain an average 2 pounds per day!
  • At 6 months, your foal is 46% of his mature weight (460 pounds)
    • He will gain an average 1.4 pounds per day!
  • Foals that are creep fed early on experience less stress during weaning.
  • Your foal will eat a combination of mother’s milk, forage, and Integrity Mare & Foal until it is time to be weaned.

mare and baby in grass field

7 Months – Yearling

  • Continue feeding Integrity Mare & Foal.
  • Feed a total of 2.4-2.7% of your foal’s body weight daily.
    • Your foal weighing 500 pounds should eat a total of 12- 13 ½ pounds of food daily.
  • Feed 45 – 60 % of the total portion in forage, 40 – 55% of the total portion in Integrity Mare & Foal.
    • Your foal should eat about 7 ¼ – 8 pounds of forage per day.
    • Your foal should eat about 4 ½ – 5 ½ pounds of Integrity Mare & Foal per day.
  • At 10 months, transition your foal to Integrity Growth.
    • It’s lower protein and higher fiber content is more suitable for this growth phase.

If you have any questions, ask an expert!  Speak with your trusted equine veterinarian, or contact Dr. Bray through our website.


Spring Babies Part 1: Feeding The Pregnant Mare

pregnant horse in grass field

It’s winter, and that means if you have a pregnant mare, she’s pretty pregnant right now!  She’ll have her foal in the fast approaching spring.  As you get everything ready for baby’s arrival, don’t forget the importance of nutrition.  Your mare is supporting a rapidly growing foal in her belly, and you want to make sure they both get the nutrition they need to help maintain good health.  Now would be a great time to introduce Integrity Mare & Foal in to your mare’s diet.

In Part One of this blog, we’ve mapped out the 3 stages of your mare’s pregnancy.  In each stage, the foal is growing at different rates, and your mare’s nutritional needs will change based on the size of the foal.

To make things simple, let’s use a 1000-pound mare as our example.

Conception – 4 months

  • Your mare is not “eating for two”!
    • The most common mistake is overfeeding at this early stage of pregnancy.
  • Keep her Body Condition Score between a 5.5 and 7.
    • Moderately fleshy – ribs cannot be seen but can be easily felt.
  • If her BCS is within range, feed your mare as you already have been, which is based on her workload (maintenance, light work, moderate work, performance).
  • As with any horse, feed about 1.5 – 2% of her body weight in forage each day.
  • During this stage, the foal weighs less than 5 pounds.

pregnant horse

5 – 7 months

  • There are not significant changes until the end of this stage.
  • Continue to evaluate your mare’s Body Condition Score, and feed her appropriately to maintain a score of 5.5 to 7.
  • At 7th month of gestation, the foal is less than 2% of the mare’s body weight and only 10-15% of its birthweight
    • On our 1000-pound mare, this foal would weigh 10 – 15 pounds

8 months – Foaling

  • 80% of the foal’s growth occurs in the last 4 months of gestation.
  • The mare’s energy requirement doesn’t change much, but her nutrient requirements change significantly.
  • Introduce Integrity Mare & Foal around the 8th month.
    • High quality proteins with adequate Lysine levels, an amino acid required for tissue growth
    • Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium
    • Vitamins A, D, E, and K
    • Balanced formula that delivers the correct levels of each nutrient
  • Your mare will gain 12-15% body weight in total, with 65% of the weight gained in the final 100 days of pregnancy.
    • This is about 120 – 150 pounds, with almost 1 pound gained per day!
  • At birth, your foal will weigh about 90 pounds!

baby horse nursing on mother horse

Lactating – Weaning

  • Your mare’s energy requirements skyrocket overnight! They will actually double what they were during early pregnancy.
  • Lactating mares have the highest energy requirements of any workload or life stage for horses.
  • She is a milk factory – producing up to 4 gallons of milk per day!
  • She will require 3 – 4% of her body weight in daily feed
  • Offer high quality forage, free choice
  • Feed her Integrity Mare & Foal at 1/2—1 pound per 100 pounds of her body weight
  • For the first 2 months of its life, your mare is supplying 100% of the nutrition to your rapidly growing foal
    • Your foal will grow about 2—4 pounds per day!
  • After weaning your foal at around 4—6 months, transition your mare back to her regular feeding program appropriate to her workload.

If you have any questions, ask an expert!  Speak with your trusted equine veterinarian, or contact Dr. Bray through our website.

Watch out for Part 2 on how to feed your new foal!