A favourite HHO topic! Questions on fine hooves and thin soles - hoof health and alfalfa?

VioletStripe

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Hello everyone!


Some of you may know I have a 13yo Connie gelding, who is the 'sportier' type of Connie - he's 15.1hh and has small feet and features. My farrier has remarked he has quite fine feet and reasonably thin soles and has recommended some Keratex hoof hardener. He is shod all round and always has been.


His diet is very simple and I had thought quite good for hoof health -
- Ad lib hay (soaked for a few mins due to asthma)
- Grazing which isn't overly lush
- Hifi molasses free with Pink Powder fed at recommended rate and NAF Five Star
- The occasional carrot or parsnip as a treat
- Up until a couple of weeks ago he was on micronised linseed as well (I'm due to buy more this weekend - previous rubbish livery yard hadn't told me he had run out, despite me frequently asking...) and also had some speedi-beet to add a bit extra as grazing was so poor over winter at ex livery yard (he is off this now)

I had started the linseed in September as well, in an effort to get his hooves a bit better.

Hooves never chip or crack, he's never had lami or been lame (touch wood, bar one abscess we have just sorted, he's never had any other issues)... but his hooves are quite fine. What am I doing wrong? Should I persevere with the Linseed, as it might take a few more months to see the effects? Or should I resign myself to the fact his hooves are okay, but never going to be great?

He is also fed Thunderbrooks hay cobs instead of treats, which I am tempted to switch for either Simple Systems or Agrobs.


I have just read on another thread re Alfalfa being bad for hooves, which I had never heard before! What are other people's opinions on this? Would I be better switching the Hifi for something else, in which case?
 

CanteringCarrot

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I am quite curious as to why some feel alfalfa is bad for hooves/or makes them footy.

The thing is, it takes awhile with a feed change. The hoof needs to grow out. So results aren't instant or fast necessarily.

I'm sort of basic in that I feed a low sugar, low starch, high protein and fat diet. I want mine to have the fuel for work and his muscles. What you're feeding doesn't seem terrible, but I'm not super familiar with all of it.
 

Lindylouanne

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Snap. My 15hh WB pony has perfectly round dainty feet which never chip or crack but he also has incredibly thin soles. Over the years I’ve refined his diet and now feed him a low starch sugar diet, currently on a mug of Pure Easy and two mugs of speedibeet with LiverAid and salt a day split into two feeds. This changes in summer to HoneyChop Lite and Healthy. Enough hay that he doesn’t stand for hours without anything as he gets winter colic. Weighed and soaked hay in summer. Never had an abscess, does feel the stones as he isn't shod but booted to be ridden. Can’t feed him alfalfa as it sends him loopy. Also has EMS so spends all summer muzzled and in a lot of work to stop him turning into a barrage balloon. All his issues are genetic and nothing I do will ever change the depth of his soles so I manage the problem the best I can.
 

VioletStripe

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Snap. My 15hh WB pony has perfectly round dainty feet which never chip or crack but he also has incredibly thin soles. Over the years I’ve refined his diet and now feed him a low starch sugar diet, currently on a mug of Pure Easy and two mugs of speedibeet with LiverAid and salt a day split into two feeds. This changes in summer to HoneyChop Lite and Healthy. Enough hay that he doesn’t stand for hours without anything as he gets winter colic. Weighed and soaked hay in summer. Never had an abscess, does feel the stones as he isn't shod but booted to be ridden. Can’t feed him alfalfa as it sends him loopy. Also has EMS so spends all summer muzzled and in a lot of work to stop him turning into a barrage balloon. All his issues are genetic and nothing I do will ever change the depth of his soles so I manage the problem the best I can.
Sounds like we are very much in the same boat! I do have a feeling he might always be on the thin-soled side, as it's the way he's made. Much in the same way that my own nails are reasonably thin, no matter what! I would have thought as a Connemara he'd have nice, chunky feet but maybe I was wrong
 

Mrs G

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My TB has been barefoot for about 6 years now and while he has good strong feet, I think he will always be ‘sensitively’ (thin!) soled no matter what. I do use a Hoof hardener in winter to try and counter wet conditions and feed low sugar/low starch. I use micronised linseed too and I think it helps with general condition as well as benefitting his hooves. On grass or an arena surface he’s fine but unless I know the route and ground conditions I will boot him up in front for hacking because he does feel stoney ground. I’ve accepted that he’s never going to be the rock crunching type.
 

HelenBack

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I think Connies are a bit known for having rubbish hooves unfortunately. Mine also has small feet and over several years of trying all sorts of different feeds and supplements they've always remained pretty rubbish. He's better barefoot than he was in shoes but I have to ride in boots and his walls do chip quite easily. His hooves don't grow very quickly either. I just manage it the best I can.

I think it's definitely worth persisting with the linseed and I was told by a nutritionist that a pelleted balancer was best to make sure they get enough protein and calcium which is important for their feet. So you could try something like that but I think you just have to be realistic that he's never going to have the best feet whatever you do.

I love my Connie but I've come to the conclusion that most of them are completely flaky fairies!
 

poiuytrewq

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The whole alfalfa/foot sensitivity fries my brain. Dealing with and getting no where with a very laminitic horse last year who as far as I and the vets could see had pretty perfect management I spoke to die hard barefooters, who’s advice I figured couldn’t make things worse. One of those things was to cut alfalfa. Along with other things (including the ground drying up and making having him shod again possible) he started to improve. So I became scared of alfalfa almost 🤦‍♀️
To me it was like a devils food and I scoured feed labels and made life quite difficult by refusing to give the tiniest amount to any of my horses.
I have a little Welsh A with paper thin soles and cushings. His levels were good but he was always a tad foot sore. Getting his meds into him was becoming harder and harder. The only thing he will reliably eat is junk food! Like happy hoof or molassed rubbish so I decided to back down on my no alfalfa rule, just for him and he’s currently getting a small amount of Hifi molasses free which hides his pill nicely and he’s improved. This leaves me more brain fried than ever, I’m still adamantly not giving it to the others but.... 🤷‍♀️
Google tells me it’s great for horses, the next page says it’s awful!
 

laura_nash

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The whole alfalfa/foot sensitivity fries my brain. [.....] This leaves me more brain fried than ever, I’m still adamantly not giving it to the others but.... 🤷‍♀️
Google tells me it’s great for horses, the next page says it’s awful!
My understanding with alfalfa is it's a bit like, say, gluten with people. Some horses have trouble with it but most are fine. So if you're struggling with a mysteriously footy horse it's worth trying to eliminate it and see if it helps, but for most horses it's fine.
 

ycbm

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Well I certainly wouldn't pay for Keratex hoof hardener. It's basically 8% formaldehyde. If you buy stronger formaldehyde on ebay and water it down to 8% then you'll end up saving a lot of money.

In my experience, it works well hardening and disinfecting soft feet.
.
 

Iznurgle

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My connie is 5, and while he's got good feet (currently shod all around), he came to me with very thin, soft soles and very bare - he'd been living in a muddy field for about two years 24/7 before I got him. Before I got him shod, I was using a 10% iodine solution on the soles to harden when I brought him in, and then Keratex on walls and soles before turn out. I've also heard of people using a 10% iodine and sugar paste and applying to the soles every week or two. The iodine was a big help, but now it's just the Keratex, and shoeing helped his feet grow out. Now my biggest issue is a slight turn in on the left fore, but the farrier and I have become very close trying to rectify it!
 

zandp

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My half connie/half ID mare can't eat any food with alfalfa in but she has PPID and is IR, quite honestly you're lucky if you don't know why alfalfa is an issue because avoiding it is a nightmare.

There is a genetic hoof problem in connies - Hoof Wall Separation Disease - which may go some way to explaining how so many of them and part bred have such awful feet.

It's what you put in the horse not on the hoof that matters, I've tried lotions and potions and diet was the key to helping her. I'd compare the NAF 5 Star to something from Pro Hoof or Forage Plus, and see what the different ingredients are - both have worked wonders on my horse - whose soles were so thin and flexible when shod you could see them move if you pressed them - or Thunderbrook Synergy, or something similar. Personally I can't feed hi fi, so use Agrobs/Thunderbrook chaffs, but now my ID/Conn is old she can't eat chaff so she gets their muesli, some sugarbeet and the balancer with her prascend.
 

poiuytrewq

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My understanding with alfalfa is it's a bit like, say, gluten with people. Some horses have trouble with it but most are fine. So if you're struggling with a mysteriously footy horse it's worth trying to eliminate it and see if it helps, but for most horses it's fine.
Yes I’m sure. I just became totally paranoid about it all.. I can even feed carrots again these days 😂🤦‍♀️
 

Pinkvboots

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If it were me I would not feed alfalfa and the pink powder and put him on the equimins vit and mineral supplement or the progressive earth all round supplement they are both good for healthy feet.

one of my Arabs had really thin soles and struggled when he had to go barefoot, he wouldn't tolerate shoes being nailed on so I had no choice, I had him on the progressive earth supplement and used hoof boots for 9 months.

He doesn't need boots anymore and his feet are so much better, I did use a hoof hardener for a while which the vet gave me and I use it occasionally now if I think his feeling a bit sensitive.
 

Pinkvboots

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The whole alfalfa/foot sensitivity fries my brain. Dealing with and getting no where with a very laminitic horse last year who as far as I and the vets could see had pretty perfect management I spoke to die hard barefooters, who’s advice I figured couldn’t make things worse. One of those things was to cut alfalfa. Along with other things (including the ground drying up and making having him shod again possible) he started to improve. So I became scared of alfalfa almost 🤦‍♀️
To me it was like a devils food and I scoured feed labels and made life quite difficult by refusing to give the tiniest amount to any of my horses.
I have a little Welsh A with paper thin soles and cushings. His levels were good but he was always a tad foot sore. Getting his meds into him was becoming harder and harder. The only thing he will reliably eat is junk food! Like happy hoof or molassed rubbish so I decided to back down on my no alfalfa rule, just for him and he’s currently getting a small amount of Hifi molasses free which hides his pill nicely and he’s improved. This leaves me more brain fried than ever, I’m still adamantly not giving it to the others but.... 🤷‍♀️
Google tells me it’s great for horses, the next page says it’s awful!
One of my Arabs can't have alfalfa it brings him up in lumps and he is a complete lunatic on it, I won't feed my other Arab it either just in case so I just use a basic grass chaff like graze on or emerald, I have just started them on pure feeds graze pellets which they love and it's low energy so they are sane.
 

Gloi

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Apart from hay all mine gets is alfalfa plus a mineral/vitamin supplement and he looks good on it and I have no problems with it. I like it rather than other chops because it has good protein and low starch no molasses.he is barefoot.
 
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Melody Grey

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Apart from hay all mine gets is alfalfa plus a mineral/vitamin supplement and he looks good on it and I have no problems with it. I like it rather than other chops because it has good protein and low starch no molasses.he is barefoot.
my 3 are the same. I’ve never heard of Alfalfa being detrimental to hoof condition before. Intolerance I’ve heard of, but not footiness.
 

tiga71

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I took the shoes of my two in January last year. One is cob with feet like dinner plates and strong. Other is Irish SH/Cob of some description with smaller feet but strong. Also have another who has been barefoot since I got him in March 2019. Took his shoes off when I picked him up, he is a project so no work.

I feed mine two handfuls of hifi light molasses free mainly to get their supplements in. They get Progressive Earth prohoof supplement and salt. Old boy gets joint supplement too.

When I was looking at what to feed I read about alfalfa being bad for feet so switched from Hifi light molasses free to something with no alfalfa (can't remember what). I had an independent nutritionist out and she said it was an old wive's tale about alfalfa being bad for feet and I would be better going back to what they were on. My farrier also said alfalfa shouldn't be an issue. So I went back to HiFi light. Mine are fine with it.

My project was a bit footy from the wet and I used Red Horse Strong Horn spray for about 6 weeks and they are much improved. Farrier said not to use keratex as full of nasty stuff.
 

Mule

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Well I certainly wouldn't pay for Keratex hoof hardener. It's basically 8% formaldehyde. If you buy stronger formaldehyde on ebay and water it down to 8% then you'll end up saving a lot of money.

In my experience, it works well hardening and disinfecting soft feet.
.
Good idea.
 

05jackd

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Have you looked into Hoof Armour? You’ll find loads about it on the barefoot groups and it goes on the sole of the foot as a thin almost film like consistency.
We’ve used it ourselves with good results but it does take a bit of practice! It’s also not toxic which is a plus against a lot of the other ‘hoof hardeners’
 
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