Keratin is responsible for the resilient structure of the hoof wall. This is a structural protein also found in hair, wool, skin and fingernails, and is made up of certain amino acids. Providing the amino acids Methionine, Threonine and Lysine, which are present in high levels in Hardy Hoof™, allows Keratin synthesis, with Methionine being of particular importance because the horse can convert this into Cysteine, the amino acid that gives Keratin its strength and structure. In order for this to happen, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) must also be present.
Advances in science have allowed us to go even further and incorporate chelation technology in Hardy Hoof™ formulation. Chelation involves the binding of minerals (nutritionally classed as metals) to another molecule with the purpose of increasing absorption and stability within the horse's gastrointestinal tract. Copper, Zinc and Manganese are chelated to the amino acid Glycine facilitating the absorption of the minerals as well as preventing them from binding to other nutrients and maximising overall nutrient utilisation within your horse. Copper and Zinc stimulate cell growth and aid Keratin production whilst Manganese supports the internal structures in the hoof.
Copper is an essential component in the building of Keratin bridges in the hoof, as it is a copper-dependent enzyme in cells that is responsible for building junctions between several proteins. Thus, if Copper is deficient the enzyme is compromised, affecting the Keratin bridge structure which ultimately could affect the hoof´s wear resistance (de Souza et al., 2019; Rueda-Carrillo et al., 2022).
Zinc is a key mineral also involved in the keratinisation process. Although studies regarding the relationship between Zinc and hoof quality show varying results, the study by Jancikova et al. (2012) showed how dietary minerals can positively influence hoof quality. The study included 16 warmbloods, eight of which were administered a vitamin-mineral premix for 9 months. Results showed increased levels of Zinc in the dry matter of the hoof horn as well as increased levels of the trace minerals Copper and Manganese. Horses administered the vitamin and mineral premix also achieved significantly faster growth of the hoof horn with decent hoof quality. This study highlights the importance of Copper, Zinc and Manganese in the health and structure of horse's hooves. Of note, for Zinc to be absorbed it must be provided at a 4:1 ratio with Copper, at 4 parts Zinc to 1 part Copper, which is achieved in the Hardy Hoof™ formulation.
Calcium is a macro-mineral that plays an important role in the formation of bones, muscles, teeth, and virtually every other structure in the horse´s body. Calcium is also crucial for good hoof growth. Calcium is necessary for the adhesion of one cell to the next, which is of particular importance in hooves, where cells are arranged tightly.
In addition to the amino acids and minerals, Hardy Hoof™ contains the highly researched B Vitamin, Biotin. A study conducted by Buffa et al. (1992) examined 24 randomly selected horses over a 10-month period. The results indicated significant improvements in hoof growth rate and hardness when administering a dose of 15mg of Biotin per day in comparison to horses being supplemented wtih 7.5mg of Biotin per day. Furthermore, Geyer et al. (1994) supports these findings as they conducted a study on 97 horses fed a daily dose of 5mg of Biotin per 100 to 150kg of bodyweight (effectively 25mg of Biotin daily for a 500kg horse). The researchers examined the hoof macroscopically every 3-4 months and found improvements in hoof horn condition after eight to fifteen months of supplementary Biotin. It was also noted that hoof horn condition deteriorated in 7 out of 10 horses once Biotin supplementation was reduced or ended. Based on the extensive research undertaken on Biotin, and the great benefits this vitamin has on hoof health, growth rate and strength, Hardy Hoof™ contains a daily supply of 30mg of Biotin per 500kg horse to ensure optimum hoof growth and health.
Furthermore, Methyl sulphonyl methane (MSM) is included in Hardy Hoof™ as it is an excellent source of dietary Sulphur, a mineral necessary for the integrity of the hoof wall due to its role in bonding protein strands in the hoof. Hardy Hoof™ also contains Iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function, which in turn is necessary for hoof and hair quality. Finally, Linseed is widely used to improve hoof quality, as it is rich in essential fatty acids, which help to seal moisture into the hoof. When combined with the phospholipid Lecithin (which is rich in Choline for cell flexibility) this aids pliability of the hooves, and helps to maintain the optimum moisture level, stopping the hooves from absorbing external moisture. Hay diets, in particular, may be low in fatty acids.
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Buffa, E.A., Van Den Berg, S.S., Verstraete, F.J.M., & Swart, N.G.N. (1992). Effect of dietary biotin supplement on equine hoof horn growth rate and hardness. Equine Veterinary Journal, 24(6): 472-474.
De Souza, A.F., Schade, J., Laus, R., Moreira, M.A., Muller, T.R. & Fonteque, J.H. (2019). Difference in mineral concentration on hooves of horses, mules and donkeys. Revista Brasileira de Ciência Veterinária, 26(3): 93-98.
Rueda-Carrillo, G., Rosiles-Martínez, R., Hernández-García, A.I., Vargas-Bello-Pérez, E & Trigo-Travera, F.J. (2022). Preliminary study on the connection between the mineral profile of horse hooves and tensile strength based on body weight, sex, age, sampling location and riding disciplines. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8:763935
Geyer, H., & Schuzle, J. (1994). The long-term influence of biotin supplementation on hoof horn quality in horses. Schweiz Arch Tierheikd, 136(4): 137-149.
Jancikova, P., Horky, P., & Zeman, L. (2012). The effect of feed additive containing vitamins and trace elements on the elements profile and growth of skin derivatives in horses. Annals of Animal Science, 12(3): 381-391