Thoroughbred Feet: Improvable?

thoroughbred feet, navicular
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Thoroughbreds as a breed tend to have pretty poor feet compared to other breeds. However, those who have raced tend to have even worse feet. This is largely due to how they are shod while racing. While racing, most horses are shod more regularly than the typical horse, some as short as every two weeks, especially if they are racing in the next few days. Not only can this create more nail holes in the hoof wall, increasing the risk of cracking, it can also alter the quality of the hoof.

Typical Thoroughbred Feet

Typical thoroughbred feet have very little heel with a long toe. This is due to the fact that the toe in many thoroughbreds grows quicker than the heel. Which often leads to problems such as cracks in the front of the hoof, especially when the weather is dryer. Not only do thoroughbreds have worse shaped feet, the quality of the hoof is often worse than in other breeds. This can make them more susceptible to cracks, abscesses and other foot related problems. However, with good management all feet can be improved.

An example of typical thoroughbred foot shape

Some people suggest barefoot or glue on shoes, to allow the hoof to grow. Others swear by various supplements and lotions. But the most important thing is to make sure they see a farrier regularly.

Scottie’s Feet

When I first got Scottie he didn’t have horrific feet, but they weren’t good. His fronts were particularly bad, being very wide and flat. He didn’t have backs on at the time which shows that he had fairly strong feet. Although I knew he had been in a lot of work without shoes before I got him, I wasn’t sure how much road work he was used to, so decided to put some back shoes on too. Which looking back was a great idea since we moved to a yard where all the fields were a good 5-15 minute walk down a concrete track.

Recently I have started to see a massive improvement in the shape of his feet and the farrier has seen improvement in the quality of the hoof wall. As you can see in the diagram below, the inner wall of the hoof mirrors the outer wall:

A diagram of the parts of the hoof

Interestingly, my farrier said Scottie’s inner wall is more of a wiggly line, rather than a smooth line. It is still perfectly healthy but she thinks its due to when he was racing and being shod often. As the nails are hammered into the white line. However, I don’t think his feet have improved by good shoeing alone. There are two things I think have played a major role in his improvement.

Hoof Oil

The first of these is Kevin Bacons hoof dressing. If any of you have thoroughbreds you will probably have come across this before. I feel the fact that its what many farriers put on shows how good it is. Since Scottie has black feet I can use the one with tar, which I love as it makes his feet look really smart.

Good Diet

The second thing, and possibly the more important of the two, is good nutrition! Scottie is currently on Baileys Lo Cal balancer and I have seen a massive improvement in his feet. When I first started noticing big problems with his feet (and his inability to keep shoes on) I topped this up slightly with a biotin supplement. I saw a quick improvement and a £20 tub lasted us 4+months and we haven’t needed to go back to it since. So luckily, we seem to be on top of Scottie’s ‘thoroughbred feet’.


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