Polo Players Edition

FEB2019

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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56 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N inactive horse, lactating mare, hard- working horse, old horse, etc.) and then select a concentrate or supplement to balance that forage to provide what the forage does not supply," she says. "You can meet the basic requirements that way, and then add individual targeted nutrients like silicon—since silicon is something that isn't naturally found in high enough amounts in the feed. If you have a horse with poor quality feet, this is something you must add separately, whereas most vitamins, minerals and amino acids will be provided by the forage and the concentrate product or supplement you selected," she explains. If the horse is on good green pasture or good quality hay you don't need to worry about the basics, but if you have a horse with poor hoof quality and you are trying to help him out, you can consider some supplements that might help. A balanced diet containing adequate protein, fat and trace minerals will do the most in preventing hoof issues. "Then if you have a horse with poor feet in spite of the diet, and supplement the horse and it gets better, you realize the horse had a nutrient deficit," says Duren. If after nine months to a year of supplementation you don't see any improvement, likely it's not a nutrition problem; it is environment or genetic origin." Bioavailable Nutrients The ingredients in the supplement also must be readily useable by the horse. "For instance, ZinPro makes a chelated form of zinc that's a combination of zinc and methionine," says Duren. "This is used in many of the hoof supplements. There is a lot of dairy research data showing what it does to improve the hoof in dairy cows." Lori K. Warren, PhD, PAS, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science, University of Florida, has done some equine studies looking at diet and hoof growth, including a study for ZinPro. She says the mineral complexes are more readily used by the body because they are already in a biological form. "We don't have a lot of studies in horses, but we get information from other animal studies and make some assumptions. Bio-availability doesn't just mean that the animals absorb them better, but in the body they have more impact—not only because they were absorbed but because they might continue to be associated with that amino acid," explains Warren. "There are other people studying various nutritional impacts on hooves, but we were very interested in sole growth. I am not sure that anyone else has ever looked at the actual diet impact on the sole. It doesn't grow as fast as the hoof wall but tends to be a very critical part of the hoof anatomy." Florida Study on Sole Depth Warren did a study a few years ago using lactating broodmares since they have a very high mineral requirement to begin with. "This is a critical time to make sure the diet is adequate. We (continued from page 17) Poor hoof quality can be caused by nutrition, genetics or environment. Don't Ignore Other Factors "A hoof problem can have a nutrition origin, but there can also be other causes such as genetics and/or environment. All too often people feed a hoof supplement and figure it will be the panacea to cure all hoof problems. It does work, if they change the other causes as well," says Duren. You can't change the genetics of the horse, but you can change the other factors. There are obviously some genetic and individual factors, because you can have a group of horses in the exact same environment, eating the same feeds, with very different hoof quality and hoof growth rates. Why do nine of them have good feet, and one doesn't? This points to either a genetic weakness or some subclinical problem that makes the horse less efficient at utilizing the nutrients. Don't Expect Instant Results It takes a long time to see results when feeding a supplement. You can't expect a visible change in the feet very soon," says Duren. "You'll see a response in the hair coat before you see a response in the hoof, because hair grows faster. The mane, tail and hair coat will show the first noticeable difference, looking healthier," he says. It will be a more gradual response in the feet. As the hoof starts to grow out you generally start to see the difference at the top, as it grows down from the coronary band. Feeding a hoof supplement will also accelerate growth, but typically it's 9 to 12 months before the old hoof wall is completely grown out and replaced with new, healthier horn.

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