What does a horse need for healthy hoof growth?

No Hoof, No Horse

One of the most commonly used phrases spoken by horse owners must surely be “No hoof, no horse.” For decades we have learnt the hard way just how true these words are, be it for a high performance racehorse or a pony carrying its adoring companion. Whilst healthy hooves are easy to take for granted, unhealthy hooves can be a challenge to rehabilitate. The process of restoring hoof strength and integrity is supported by balanced nutrition (-Along with a talented hoofcare professional of course!)

strong hooves and horse

How to support healthy hoof growth

Whilst the care of a qualified, top quality farrier is a key component in maintaining a healthy hoof, there are also nutritional actions that can be taken to reach this goal.

The hoof wall is made of approximately 90% protein (Keratin) and grows in tubules emanating from the coronet. Keratin is synthesized from key amino acids such as Methionine and Cysteine and so ensuring a diet that provides a suitable amino acid base is essential to support the constant production of a strong hoof wall.

But protein is just one component of hoof wall production. These key amino’s must join forces with particular co-enzymes, vitamins and minerals, the successful combination of which will produce strong, healthy hooves.

The following is a summary of some of the key nutrients that you should consider providing to improve hoof quality.





A vital co-enzyme to assist in the forming of Keratin from key amino acids. Insufficient biotin can lead to brittle hooves.


Methionine is a sulfur containing amino acid which is required more by keratin than any other tissue. It is often deficient when accelerated growth is required. 


Zinc is considered the primary trace mineral in regards to the creation of keratinized tissue. Supplementation of this nutrient in surplus to the regular needs of the body, may be of assistance in the growth of a new hoof wall. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential to keratin production.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is one of the carotenoids essential to all keratinized tissues, needed mostly by horses not on high quality fresh pasture. 


Iodine deficient horses often show poor hoof quality. 

Omega 3s

Omega-3’s are needed for all membranes, including hoof wall microtubules, and laminae.


Does my horse need a hoof supplement?

Many horses, particularly those enjoying a healthy diet, won't actually require a specific hoof supplement. Their balanced diet will generally provide all of the nutrients indicated above in a quantity that supports hoof wall quality and integrity.

However, additional nutrients may be needed in cases where trauma may have impacted the hoof or where a horse suffers from poor quality hooves.

Your horse may benefit from a hoof supplement if it suffers from:

  • Particularly dry, brittle or cracked hooves,
  • A poorly formed frog,
  • A hoof wall that has been damaged.

Horse hoof vitamins minerals supplements

HYGAIN® HOOFGAIN® is a pelletized supplement containing a rich blend of the 7 nutrients outlined above. These ingredients are known to aid in the maintenance of hoof integrity year-round. If your horse suffers from dry, cracked or brittle walls, thin soles, or poorly formed frogs, then HYGAIN® HOOFGAIN® could be your solution.

HYGAIN® GLEAM®, Rapid Hoof and Coat Conditioner is a blend of biotin, bio-chelated zinc, quality amino acids, full fat soya bean meal and essential fatty acids formulated in a palatable banana flavoured base for all equines.

Ideal for strong healthy hooves, to assist horses with dull coats, for show/sales preparation, to assist in moving winter coats and for general health and condition of horse coats, manes, tails and skin.

A word of advice on hooves and wellbeing:

Whilst dietary support and quality nutrition go a long way towards preventing common hoof problems, it is always recommended that you consult a veterinarian if your horse is exhibiting pain. Abscesses can require complex professional care in order for them to resolve quickly. Hoof bruises may also be indicative of a deeper physiological issue.

Your farrier may also alert you to changes in your horse’s hoof condition that require extra attention.


Not sure how to work “hoof health” into your horse’s diet?

Great news – The free diet analysis service offered by Nutrikey is easy and accessible to all. The nutritionists at Nutrikey can review your horse’s current diet, taking into account your horse’s lifestyle and lifestage. They don’t just let you know about “gaps” in your horse’s diet, -they also provide a diet plan to get your horse on the right track!

Visit nutrikey.com.au for more information or click to book a free consultation.


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