Just the opening I was looking for! My BM just loaned me two guides published by the Equine Research Centre at the University of Guelph, published in 1993 and 1994. Web site: www.erc.on.ca
tel. 519-837-0061 . Titles are: No Foot No Horse: The Equine Foot in Health and Disease (part of a seminar series), and No Foot No Horse II. They have articles from researchers all over the world and including their own.
Some of the topics: Promoting Good Quality Hoof Horn; Feeding To Improve Feet; Mechanical Aspects of the Hoof Wall; Correct and Corrective Shoeing; Recognizing Foot Problems/Lameness; A Method for Treating Club Feet; Laminitis Update, and Case Studies; Musculoskeletal Development of the foal.
Here is a sample of some findings (direct quotes):
* an excess of methionine is highly toxic and if not balanced for zinc, copper and iron, will actually cause deficiencies and poor horn. (That's why Farrier's Formula and BMZ usually works because it is balanced in the right proportions).
* faeces, faeces and urine, water, hoof oils and fat solvents like acetone cause further damage to poor quality hoof horn
* water content of the hoof wall has a significant effect on mechanical properties. Wall which is too dry can withstand high loads but has minimal elasticity; when the load is excessive, the wall cracks. Wall which is too wet will change shape under fairly low loads and permanent deformation under normal loading is much more likely than in a normally hydrated wall.
* once shoes are removed, the foot finds its natural shape within 30 minutes. If you replace shoes without putting the foot down, any problems become part of the design of the shoe and foot.
General advice for owners wishing to preserve horse's feet:
1. diet must be well balanced for calcium: omit bran, use alfalfa more than other hays, reduce grain.
2. feed a specifically designed supplement for hooves (at the time Farrier's Formula was the only one around to address the hoof issue), and avoid feeding more than one supplement to avoid excess
3. addition of two to six tablespoons of vegetable oil can be beneficial
4. if horse prone to laminitis, avoid feedstuffs high in molasses, maize (corn) and peas, the "coarse mixes"
5. avoid hoof dressings as they can compromise the natural waterproofing mechanisms of the foot (especially avoid dressings with formaldehyde)
6. make sure horse has plenty of dry, clean bedding; deep litter (deep manure) should be avoided
I could go on but this gives you some idea of how comprehensive the guides are. I will certainly be contacting the ERC to buy my own copies. Books are out of print so I will have to scan and save electronically
How I have gained knowledge: asked and asked questions of knowledgable horse people; read on my own and followed up on conflicting info; observed the farrier and asked tons of questions; when I saw something I didn't like in the hooves, looked up on Internet, asked questions. Since we have only been leasing for the last two years, we wanted to be on top of things for the good of the horse and to protect the owner.