My horse's hooves are so dry that the vet wants me to soak them in water and put some kind of oil on them. He suggested fish oil as it is all natural but does not know where to get it. Any suggestions? I mean these hooves are so dry that the frogs are very hard! We intitially thought it was a navicular problem but $500 of xrays proves it is not...now he says it may be the hooves are so dry that they have contracted and started to compress the interior structures of the hoof. Any body out there with feeding/soaking/oiling ideas?

And yes I am already looking for a second opinion....but need to do something until I can gt it.

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Well Janice I have never heard of putting fish oil on horses hoofs, it might be a bit easier to get some of the hundreds of preperations that are in any saddlery shop!!! One of the things we do here sometimes is let a trough overflow a bit so there is water around the trough , we stopped doing that though because water is a bit tight these days. If you put hoof oil on make sure you get the hoofs wet first, that way there is some moisture there in the first place . So, the simplest thing is to hose him off then apply the oil. Give it a bit of time to soften the hoofs , it wont work over night but it will work. Cheers Geoffrey
If you're in the U.S., you can get Cod Liver Oil at the GNC. I've fed Cod Liver Oil before. It's got quite a lot of Vitamins A & E. I would put more confidence in the feeding of it than in the topical application of it, or any other oil.
Hi Janice
Like Geoffrey I have never heard of using fish oil on hooves but it sounds like a reasonable idea. Corn oil or sunflower oil would probably do the same job and I think you should be able to get it from any supermarket. You might check out some of the barefoot trimming websites for further advice on this as I was told that soaking the hooves is one of the most important things about keeping barefoot horses hooves healthy. My horse is barefoot and in the summer this is a problem (although right now I think he's growing flippers it's so wet here, so we have other problems!).

Anyway, what I do for mine is soak his feet with water - the recommendation is to stand them in it for as long as you can, but if you can get your horse to stand with his feet in a trough for more than a couple of minutes then my hat goes off to you!! - and then use 'aqueous cream' which is a water-based skin cream for humans (here in the UK you can buy tubs of it from the pharmacy - just don't tell them it's for a horse!). It soaks into the hoof and keeps it moisturised. Don't buy anything with lanolin in as that repells moisture and you want it to soak in. Putting anything oil based on is going to repell moisture, so stay clear of traditional hoof oils, And as Geoffrey says, put any oil on AFTER the hoof is wet and that way the water will be locked in. (Think of putting moisturiser or body cream on after a bath or shower!)

Alternatively if your horse won't stand in a trough, but will tolerate things on his hooves, another slightly whacky idea you might want to try is to soak a piece of sponge cut to the right size to fit the underneath of the hoof in water and hold it against the underneath of the hoof. Then get an old sock and put this on the hoof (as if you were dressing your horse in socks!) to hold the sponge in place. You could then either put duct tape around the hoof and the sock to hold it all on or put a hoof boot (poultice boot or similar) on over the top. I would only recommend doing this in the stable and it's a bit of a fiddle, but it is a way of getting water into the underneath of the hoof for a longer period of time than just hosing or washing!

Good luck with it.
Hi, Janice:

This diagnosis sounds a little "fishy" to me. There are many ligaments and tendons running through the pastern joint and inserting under and around the navicular and pedal bones, and one ore more of those is much more likely to be the cause of your problem. I don't know what your horse is worth to you, but I'd be looking at a second opinion at the very least, and probably an MRI to sort out the real issue.

However, if you're convinced that your vet's opinion is the right one there is a product on the market which works better than most for moisturizing feet. It's called "Rainmaker", and it's easy to use (comes with its own application brush) and has been proven in double blind studies to actually moisturize hooves.

I have a large number of clients with horses living near yours, and they don't have this problem, so I'm really wondering about your horse. What do you feed him? Bear in mind that in dry summer/fall all the frogs get hard, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them - in fact those dry hard feet are in super shape. I have to talk to my farrier today about something else, so I'll bounce your problem around with him as well...
Last summer for dry feet I started spraying them with PAM cooking oil spray upon suggestion from a friend. I had my doubts, but it actually worked well, and at three bucks a can, it doesn't break the bank! I would just hose the feet and then spray the oil on after. My farrier even commented on how my colt and gelding's feet were looking good considering the weather and what his other client's hooves were looking like.

What does your farrier say about it?

A good supplement couldn't hurt much either..
Thank all of you for your suggestions.

I am in the process of having a equine lameness specialist look at the xrays.

I have 8 other horses of various ages ( 1 is 31) and they are all on the same grass pasture and have to wade into the same spring to drink and none of them are lame so I agree there has to more to it than the dryness. It has been awfully dry here and the soil is very hard and rocky but I should see some of the same problems in my other horses and I do not. We moved here a year ago and it is very much a drier climate.

This horse has had ongoing unsoundness that no one has ever been able to diagnose. He once spent two weeks at a vet clinic so they could work him and look at him daily and came up with nothing. I have spent a lot of time and money to get him sound only to have something go wrong and then he is lame again.

I wish I could donate him to a University somewhere as I cannot keep this up. Right now all I want is for him to be comfortable and he is hurting. I am currently soaking the feet (he stands in tubs no problem) and putting on three kinds of foot moisturizers different times of the day. Has anyone used a product called Wunder hoof? I see it on the internet but haven’t ordered it as am not sure. What about an Easy boot and filling it with a hoof paste?

I intend to get a different farrier to trim him a bit differently as per the xrays, after things soften up. You can see that his heels are too high and the foot is slightly cupped.

I also have bought a supplement and it is for horses that cannot metabolize sugars (EPSM) as I do believe you are what you eat so maybe that will help him although I know it will take a long time. I used this product with some success in prior years with this horse although he wasn't this sore ever.

I don't know what more I can do......
Hi, Janice:

You could likely donate him to the University of Washington at Pullman. He sounds like he has a club foot, which has perhaps not been properly managed by your farrier(s) to date. As I said before, there are many ligament and tendon insertions in the hoof, and it is likely that he's having trouble with those, and not with the hoof capsule at all (it's more indicative of the deeper problems within the hoof, not the issue itself. Your point about your other horses and the fact that they are fine is a good one, and is part of the picture.

Feed can help, but good quality hay and a good vitamin/mineral supplement should take care of the problem - it is unlikely that other "hoof" supplements will do much more than cost you more money.

Try having the specialist send the x-rays to Pullman for their opinion - that won't cost you much, and might give you a LOT more insight into the issue(s) and how to manage them, if in fact they can be managed.

Good luck!
Oh dear. There is always far more to it than you first imagine isn't there? The old saying 'no foot, no horse' is so true. Now you start to explain more it sounds quite unlikely that it is just a dryness problem. Is your vet sure the problem is in the hoof? If the heels are too high and have been like this for a while then as Jan suggests it may well have caused problems with the ligaments and tendons, but not just in the hoof but higher up as well - I understand that sometimes so-called hoof problems are actually a problem in the shoulder or hips - and even if they don't originate there, it would make sense that the angle of the hoof may create problems higher up over time, manifesting as lameness.

I don't want to suggest specific things because it can be infuriating when you know you have tried all sorts of things already but ... if it were my horse, I think would be thinking holistically and trying to find a practitioner who could look at the whole horse, not just his feet. For this, you may need to move away from the traditional medical model of treatment and of course it depends on how open you are to such things - plus how much money you have!

As already said - good luck. It's horrible when your horse is suffering and you just want to help them.
Thank you all for your suggestions. I do know it isn't just dry hooves...can't be but had to start somewhere. I needed bute to make him comfortable and since I just moved here they will not give me any bute without looking at the horse. The vets around here are NOT horse specialists...middle of Oct had three mares preg tested. They were all pasture bred July 7 and earlier which makes the babies at least 70 days but the vet could not tell me if one mare was in foal or open even with his ultrasound, ...I know one was 90 days but it took him 15 minutes to palpate her pg.. the other was 120 days and he got that one ok......so I know they are not very experienced....so no the vet is not correct. I have ideas that he has nerve damage in several areas and like Jan J says I too believe he has damage from club foot and probably improper trimming plus he injured his hind and was supporting all his weight basically on three legs. Also some other issues I had with him being used too hard by a fellow when I sent him out for work on a ranch situation may have been caused by too tight saddle and his down hill conformaiton but he seemed to recover from that...so lots of issues and reasons but need to find THAT vet in this area that will care for him, find a solutions so he is comfortable...he can be a pasture pony until he dies...just do not want him to hurt and cannot afford all these guys who want to charge a fortune and still cannot tell me anything.
does he mean cod liver oil?
Probably cod liver oil would be suitable. I can get it at the drugstore but it is very expensive. I would rather give that in his feed. This vet is older and said he used to use it on his horses all the time but he cannot get it anymore. It must have been more of a feed additive and not human grade so less expensive.

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