Like the rings on a tree tell us a great deal about the health and age of a tree, hoof rings and ridges can offer an accurate glimpse into the life of your horse over a period of time and include such factors as diet and stress.
What are hoof rings
While hoof rings and hoof ridges might lead a person to believe they are one and the same, the fact is they are definitely different features of the hoof.
Hoof rings are external lines in the hoof that indicate fluctuations in the growth of the hoof wall over time. These growth rings can appear as tightly woven rings around to the hoof, or one wide pattern.
Hoof rings often are tightly spaced around the toe area and grow wider at the heel as the growth continues over time.
These rings can be found in healthy hooves and can occur due to changes in diet during the seasons. They can also shed light on changes in training habits and stabling conditions. Taking these factors into consideration, know that more often than not, hoof rings are a normal part of a healthy hoof.
What are hoof ridges
As stated in the last section hoof ridges are different than rings in that while plainly visible like rings, they are defined by bumps and ledges on the wall of the hoof.
These ridges usually start at the top of the hoof and work their way downward. These ridges shed light on a problem with the hoof wall dating back months. Diets high in sugars can make the hoof grow to fast. This can cause the hoof to grow out and cause stress to the hoof by only allowing the wall to be utilized to hold the horses’ weight. This is not how the hoof is designed and this stress can cause rippling.
Prolonged trauma to the hoof can also cause hoof ridges. Long trail riding on hard ground that beat up the hoof. Excessive jumping and trotting can also place stress on the hoof. Once these ridges have surfaced it’s too late to do anything about them.
Preventing Hoof Ridges
Changing environmental factors can go a long way in preventing ridges and damage to the hoof. Diet and physical trauma can be managed to protect the animals’ feet. Change is indeed necessary as a weak hoof leaves the horse susceptible to laminitis.
Working with a farrier is beneficial in designing a hoof trimming protocol that can eliminate issues that are currently a problem, and remove chances of the hoof being injured at a later date.
Similar to a farrier, working closely with a veterinarian in developing a game plan of medications in advanced cases, or simply adjusting diet and supplementation will protect the horse from further and future hoof damage. A good diet where rations are calculated individually over time mixed with proper supplements like Biotin will foster better hoof strength.
Create a simple plan
Adding the removal of environmental stressors is the first step in protecting your horses’ hooves from damage. Adding proper foot care and creating a dietary plan for hoof health will allow your horses’ feet to be the strong base on which build on a healthy life.