How to Rehydrate the Hoof
So the winter has now started to move more heavily into spring. Do the hooves of your horse look dull and lack radiance? Is there the appearance of fine lines vertical on the hoof?
It is very likely that the hoof of the horse feels 'tight" as it is becoming dehydrated, thus losing elasticity and flexibility.
So How Does the Hoof Dehydrate
Moisture evaporates readily through the hoof, the hoof dries out and in the long run, larger splitting occurs due to poor cellular integrity. Elements that impact on the hoof include, wind, cold weather, sun, diet, nutrient levels, how it is balanced when trimmed, ground elements and any hereditary issues. These all play a role in determining the health of the hoof and how effective it is as a barrier and support mechanism for the rest of the horse. The very outer layer is the real protective layer made up of keratinocytes which are termed 'dead" and grow down the hoof. We know these as the KERATIN.
What keeps these keratinocytes together and Hydrated
Well it is a little but very important group of substances call lipids. They are a group of fatty acids that do a range of jobs in the body and one of those jobs is to hold keratin together in the skin, hair and hooves.
Its these lipids that form the waterproofing barrier, reducing the 'Trans Epidermal Water Loss" and ensures that there is sufficent moisture remaining in the hoof. A deficiency in these lipids causes the water retention to be diminished and hoof dehydration follows.
One of the functions of these lipids is to structurally strengthen cell membranes (of which the hoof cells are). Lipids are fatty acids and are obtained normally through the diet. However, it has been found that the use of dietary fatty acids such as coconut oil help to improve the cell structure and eliminate the dehydration and subsequent cracking. Hence using a good quality natural plant based Hoof Moisturiser is a great way to assist in reducing the dehydration at this time of the year. So a good varied balance diet and the application of a plant based Hoof Moisturiser is essential in hoof hydration. We recommend Donnybrook Equine Hoof Moisturiser.
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