This is a classic and common example of what happens to the hoof when there is a copper and zinc deficiency. This hoof will tend to lose shoes and split and is in danger of contracting white line disease. The cracks in the hoof will allow entry into the hoof by opportunistic anaerobic bacteria. Once established the bacteria will literally "eat" their way up the inner hoof wall. It's common to resect (remove) the outer hoof wall to expose the bacteria to air and stop the process, but this is not the answer. The answer is to stop the problem at the source....stop the hoof wall separation through proper mineral supplementation. Horses with copper and zinc deficiency will also tend to have problems with thrush. The reason for this is because the frog tissue is not healthy. It's weak and soft which allows bacteria and fungus to enter and feast on flesh. We do not agree with constant trimming of the frogs as most farriers tend to do. This does not allow a callous to build over the frog. Each time the frog is trimmed the underlying tissue is exposed providing an opportunity for bacteria to enter. "Copper is essential for the formation of the connective tissues. Since many minerals can compete with each other for absorption, it's very important to have mineral present in the correct amounts, ratios, and balance. Commonly suggested ratios of Cu:Zn:Mn are from 1:3:3 TO 1:5:5. A horse may have adequate iron levels but be unable to use them properly due to lack of adequate copper in the diet. Iron can't be properly utilized and incorportated into red cells with copper deficiency. Excess iron is toxic. Skip high-iron supplements unless blood tests of iron status prove you need it." ~ Dr. Eleanor Kellon
100% of the hays and pastures that we have tested have shown to be too high in iron and too low in copper and zinc for the needs of the horse. Samples were sent to Equi-Analytical Laboratory and results were emailed back to us and then compared to charts in the book published by the National Research Council, Nutrient Requirements of Horses. Following is a good example of a horse with long term copper and zinc deficiency and excessive sugar and iron. The diet was supplemented with correct levels of copper and zinc, sweet feed eliminated, and pasture turn-out was limited.
Click on an image to enlarge....
After only 5 weeks of adjusting the diet, I think the pictures speak for themselves. This horse still has a thin sole at the toe and poor frogs but as you can see, the hoof wall separation has been much improved. New sole and frogs take a very long time to grow.
Upon return 10 weeks later this horse had built up an incredible amount of sole (around 1.5"). The thrush is no longer active and the stuctures within the hoof have ascended. We trimmed out the excess sole and trimmed off around 1" of excess hoof wall. This horse still has a long way to go but has made remarkable improvements over the past 10 weeks. The owner states that the horse is now more sound than he has been in years.
***One thing that we had not mentioned previously was that this horse had incredibly red hooves. We've found that this is one of the many signs of dietary distress/sugar overload/laminitis/founder. The hooves will continue to become a normal color as the horse's pasture turn-out is limited and his health improves***
8 months after the 1st trim and diet change the concavity the hooves achieved was incredible.
Click on the link below to see how copper/zinc deficiency affects your horse's coat: