Wellness Wednesday - How to Maintain Healthy Hoofcare

Photo: Shirley McQuillan
Photo: Shirley McQuillan

This weeks Wellness Wednesday is brought to you by Uckele Health & Nutrition. The hooves can be profoundly affected by imbalanced metabolic changes, which can show in a variety of ways. The broad spectrum of hoof issues that can generate from imbalanced metabolic function include dry, cracked hooves, slow hoof growth, decreased hoof stability, uneven hoof growth and hoof connective tissue concerns that can eventually contribute to founder. Each horse's body responds differently to metabolic imbalances and the resulting toxicity and inflammation associated with them. 

Jack Grogan, Certified Nutritionist and Chief Science Officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition, has formulated ground-breaking nutritional supplements to support a healthy, balanced metabolic function that produces effective and abundant energy for optimal cellular health. Grogan explains that when metabolic function becomes imbalanced, considerable stress, inflammation, toxicity, hormonal imbalance and oxidative damage can quickly and easily occur, “Major contributing factors to imbalanced metabolic function are highly processed feeds, incomplete nutrition, multiple stresses, high-intensity training, competition and a more toxic environment.”  

One major factor that can increase stress, toxicity and inflammation in the hoof tissue is hormonal fluctuation, especially relative to cortisol and insulin. Grogan explains the reason, “The over-release of these hormones can increase hoof stress and inflammation, contributing to an increased rate of tissue breakdown that can exceed the horse's ability to rebuild and repair hoof tissue. This can also negatively affect the circulatory areas of the foot and hoof that contribute to an increase in localized foot and hoof inflammation.” Grogan points out that hormonal disruptions associated with cortisol and insulin can manifest different hoof issues in different horses even though the underlying cause may be the same. 

Quick changing blood-sugar patterns commonly cause imbalanced metabolic function by triggering release of the stress hormone, cortisol, and the sugar controlling hormone, insulin, too often and/or at too high a level. Grogan claims that this does not necessarily mean that the blood-sugar level either goes too high or too low, “For most horses, it simply means that the level of sugar in the blood changes too rapidly within the range of normal blood-sugar values. It is this rapid change in blood sugar that generates the increased stress, causing the release of cortisol and subsequent release of insulin to manage the blood sugar changes.”  

Stabilizing metabolic function requires numerous adjustments in feeding and supplementation. Grogan strongly recommends a feeding program that includes low-starch, high-fiber and adequate protein, with unrefined oil to stabilize blood sugar and the hormones cortisol and insulin. He explains why; “Feeds with high sugar or starch content break down rapidly during digestion, releasing glucose rapidly into the bloodstream. Feeds with low sugar and starch and high fiber contain carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. This blood sugar control is also positively influenced and balanced by incorporating unrefined oil, as well.”

“Sweet feed has the highest sugar effect of all feeds,” Grogan continues, “Feeds with a lower sugar content have more positive health benefits and result in reduced free radical formation, reduced stress and a more stable, healthy blood sugar level.” In addition, Grogan advises adding unrefined oil or fatty acids to the diet, which can have a dramatic effect on slowing the sugar reaction. He also suggests using non-sugar sweeteners in place of molasses to prevent rapid changes in blood sugar and support healthy glucose metabolism.  

Photo: Shirley McQuillan
Photo: Shirley McQuillan

Grogan also suggests supplementing with nutritional formulas to support hoof health and healthy sugar metabolism. “These can play a major role in re-establishing a healthy balance in cortisol and insulin release, reduced toxic and inflammatory stress and improved energy production.” He explains how the specific, key nutrients can support stable blood sugar patterns, hoof health and growth and hormonal balance.

*The Omega-3 fatty acids support healthy blood-sugar patterns, inflammatory responses and tissue repair.
* The amino acids Lysine and Methionine offer structural support and integrity to the hoof tissues.
* The Omega-6 and -9 fatty acids help stabilize blood sugar and can have positive influences on the natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms. They also maintain a balance with the Omega-3 fats.
* The trace minerals Zinc, Copper and Manganese, as well as Silicon are important in regulating inflammatory mechanisms, as well as activating enzymes for tissue repair.
* Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols are primary antioxidants that also support healthy tissue repair.
* Vitamin B-6 is essential for healthy fatty-acid metabolism.
* Biotin is a well-known nutrient vitamin support for healthy hoof growth, strength and balance. Biotin also is an important nutrient that supports a healthy sugar metabolism.

Additional supplements in more complex formulas can support hoof health by positively influencing balanced circulation in the foot and hoof, as well as by reducing excessive oxidative stress that can increase inflammation:  
* The amino acids Arginine, Taurine, DMG, TMG, Glycine Propionyl Carnitine and Citrulline Malate support healthy circulatory function to the foot and hoof.
* The amino acid Glutamine and Hyaluronic Acid support healthy tissue repair.
* The herbs Devil's Claw, Jiaogulan, Boswellia, Spirulina and Milk Thistle reduce oxidative stress.
* The amino acids N-Acetyl Cysteine, Taurine, DMG and TMG along with Milk Thistle reduce oxidative stress and support liver function.
* The vitamins B-12, folic acid and B-6 also support liver function and are important for the healthy metabolism and use of the amino acids.
* The Spirulina algae reduces oxidative stress, supports tissue repair and detoxification mechanisms.