A healthy equine gastrointestinal microbiome contains a diverse range of beneficial microbes that support digestion, immune function and nutrient synthesis. Because horses are hindgut fermenters, a healthy microbiome is essential for overall wellness. Dysbiosis of the gastrointestinal tract can occur if the microbial population becomes unbalanced or dominated by harmful microbes.
Keeping horses barefoot is gaining in popularity because of the benefits in hoof health and movement it can provide some horses. Barefoot hoof trimming is designed to maximize the biomechanical efficiency of hoof function. It is favoured among horse owners who prefer more natural management of their equine companions.
Equine hoof problems are a major source of concern for horse owners. Hoof issues can lead to lameness and unsoundness, causing discomfort for the horse and potentially leading to early retirement. In one study, 85% of horses were observed to have at least one form of hoof disorder when examined during regular hoof trimming.
Painful hoof abscesses in horses develop when bacterial or fungal organisms enter the hoof structure through a wound or opening and cause infection in the inner tissues. The invading microorganisms and the ensuing immune response generate purulent exudate (pus) which causes pressure inside the hoof. This leads to pain, structural damage and lameness.
Founder is a common cause of lameness in horses. It involves damage to the laminar connection between the hoof wall and the coffin bone. This often leads to rotation and/or sinking of the coffin bone which causes severe pain and can permanently damage the hoof structure.