Need help choosing the right products? Below is a list of horse related problems and issues, to help you find the correct product for your horses.

Hooves that have softened in wet conditions

Keratex Hoof Gel is a highly waterproof but breathable application for hooves that soften, crumble and break up in wet weather or humid conditions. Hoof Gel can be applied all over the hoof capsule including frogs, soles and heels. Once applied, water will form droplets and run off the hooves much like rain off a waxed jacket. Use Hoof Gel to strengthen hooves and prevent water damage from occurring.

Hardening the Hooves

Keratex Hoof Hardener will add strength and flexibility to the hoof walls and soles of the horse’s foot, making your horse more comfortable in a matter of days. The unique formulation of Keratex Hoof Hardener includes a special ‘elasticity’ ingredient that prevents brittleness within the hoof while making it stronger and more durable.

Try using your bottle of Hoof Hardener daily for one week to stabilise the hooves, and then twice a week. Keratex Hoof Hardener works by cross-linking the proteins within the horse’s hoof, building ‘bridges’ and adding stamina to the hoof walls and soles. Sensitive soles can be the result of the damaging effects of the wet-dry cycle that the changeable UK weather can bring about in horses’ hooves.

Going from a rainy spell that causes waterlogged fields to dry sunny days and harder ground can play havoc with horses’ hooves as they swell to accommodate extra moisture and then contract as this water evaporates. This is also a common problem in horses that graze in dewy pasture during the night or early morning – just as the dew evaporates quickly, so does the moisture within the hooves.

When this happens on a regular basis, it can create cracks and splits in the hoof wall, and soft, weak and sensitive soles. For this reason, you may find it beneficial to use Keratex Hoof Gel as well. Keratex Hoof Gel will waterproof the entire hoof capsule, making it immune to the damaging effects of a wet-dry cycle and therefore preventing water-damage from occurring.

The wet-dry cycle

The old adage ‘no foot, no horse’ really does apply in today’s unpredictable climates, which can trap hooves in a wet-dry-wet-dry cycle of rapid saturation and drying. This can weaken hoof horn over time and make hooves prone to cracked or soft hooves, thrown shoes, unsoundness and/or discomfort during work. Horse hooves become compromised when the moisture content does not remain reasonably constant. In any consistent climate, a horse can adapt well over time.

However, frequent changes in the weather will adversely affect the internal structure of the hooves, which never have the chance to become ‘acclimatised’. In wet conditions such as a waterlogged field or rainy spell, the internal hoof structure swells and softens as it absorbs excess water molecules. This is because the essential molecular links which hold the keratin of the horn together have weakened. In subsequent dry conditions such as stabling or a spell of hot/dry weather, the internal hoof structure contracts and shrinks as the water evaporates.

The faster the hooves have to react in this way, the worse the damage, meaning that a changeable climate plays havoc with horses’ hooves. As hoof horn expands and contracts in varying conditions, the molecular structure weakens and cracks will appear. As the process continues, the hoof will become more porous over time, becoming saturated extremely quickly and drying out rapidly. This leaves empty spaces – ‘vacuoles’ – inside the hoof horn, which can act as nuclei for cracks and splits to form. It will make a horse prone to losing shoes as the nails cannot be held in tightly and the soles may become soft and susceptible to punctures, cavities and sensitivity.

Clearly the effects of a wet-dry cycle can be very damaging but it is possible to prevent the hooves from becoming affected with the right protective measures. In preventing the effects of a wet-dry cycle remember that the hoof horn is already classed as ‘dead tissue’ and therefore some complex chemical engineering is required to waterproof it and strengthen it internally by cross-linking the keratin of the hoof wall – rather like adding rungs to a ladder.

The best way to protect the horn against a wet-dry cycle is a two-pronged affair. Firstly, excess water must be prevented from entering the horn structure and secondly, weak horn must be strengthened without becoming brittle. Applying a strongly water-repellent but porous topical product on the outer surface of the hoof wall and sole is a good way of achieving this. Secondly, using our hoof hardener will add cross-linking bonds to the keratin, reinforcing the natural sulphur links that hold the hoof together, therefore strengthening and hardening the horn.

Flaky, chipped, weak hooves, crumbly soles

Hooves that disintegrate easily are often the result of water damage from standing in wet fields, boggy paddocks, or frequent stabling. Water damage occurs when a horse’s hooves are saturated by environmental water, for example, mud, puddles, dewy grass, or wet bedding. This can cause splitting and cracking as the internal structure of the hooves expands.

The problem can become worse in winter when feet are water-logged all day, and then dry out quickly when stabled overnight. This causes moisture to evaporate through the hoof walls very quickly. The hoof becomes trapped in a wet-dry cycle where the internal structures expand and contract quickly, causing cracks and gaps in the hooves. The best way to avoid water damage in hooves is to avoid exposing the hooves to environmental moisture while protecting the hooves’ breathability.

Once the hooves are able to shirk off excess water their condition will improve and this will lead to strengthening of the hoof structure and better hoof quality. Keratex Hoof Gel is specifically designed to repair and recover hooves from water damage. It can be applied all over the hoof, sole, frog and bulbs of the heel, and will completely waterproof the entire hoof capsule in a fully supportive and breathable way. It will also prevent water damage from occurring and is a useful addition to your kit as a way of responding to weather changes as they happen to maintain hoof quality.

Once applied, Keratex Hoof Gel will absorb into the hooves for maximum results (unlike some products which simply sit on the surface and are therefore easily rubbed off in grass or during exercise). When the hooves become wet, water will form droplets and roll off the hooves like rain off a waxed jacket or water off a duck’s back, so you can see the effectiveness of the product.

Unable to keep shoes on, loose shoes

A good way of keeping shoes on tight is to make the internal hoof structure denser by cross-linking the keratins which make up the foot and hardening the hoof capsule to the level it should optimally be.

This means that shoes will stay on tight and the hoof will be more able to hold onto clenches. The horse’s ability to hold onto shoes will be improved and damaged nail holes, existing cracks and damage will be stabilised while they grow out and new cracks will be prevented from appearing. If painted around old nail holes, missing hoof horn and chips and flaps, these areas of damage will not ladder up or across the hoof.

Split, cracked hooves; ‘straw’-like hoof walls

Dehydrated, cracked hooves can be the result of a rapidly changing wet-dry cycle, and are often seen in finer breeds such as TBs on either black or white hoof horn. It is typically seen as small splits and cracks in the hooves and a straw-like appearance with hard unyielding frogs.

A common misconception is that dehydrated hooves should be moisturised daily. This is not the case and in actual fact can cause over-moisturisation, where the hooves become too soft. The most successful hoof type is ‘hard’ and only slightly pliable in order to absorb different terrain, but over-moisturising can cause the hooves to become too soft and too pliable and therefore more likely to break up and split. If hooves and frogs need a hydration boost, keep using your current moisturiser but cut the applications down to just two or three times a week in order to keep feet in tip top condition without making them too pliable.

This also applies to frogs which must not be allowed to become too soft. Keeping hooves at the optimum moisture level should be a carefully balanced affair. Keratex Hoof Moisturiser has a humectant action and is absorbed by the hoof. Its intelligent formulation tailors the moisture levels to a precise level and maintains this level for a stable, consistent environment within the hoof for good quality hooves going forward.

Are white hooves weaker than black hooves?

No. This is a myth. There is some anecdotal evidence that white hooves are softer, but industry professionals go on the scientific facts and in fact there is no difference in the structure, moisture content, density or make-up in either of the colours, so there is no difference in the strength of the two colours. The hoof colour is actually determined by the skin above it, for this reason as the hoof grows out of the coronary band it is colour coded. For example, this is why so many Appaloosas have white and black stripy hooves.

It is true though that scientific research has found that weaker hooves have an increased moisture content whether they are black or white. So the more moisture in the hoof, the weaker it is, whatever the colour. When horses ran wild before human  involvement, their feet were hard like bullets and very, very dry. This allowed them to deal with the many different types of terrain they encountered as they roamed and foraged. So whether the hoof is black or white, as long as it nice and hard, the capability will be the same in each colour.

The Effect of Sand on Hooves

Sand underfoot can be very abrasive to horse’s hooves. The exfoliating effect of sand can be quite detrimental for most hooves and they tend to wear away quickly, this can cause problems with hoof quality or sensitive feet. Many riders who school several times a week in a sand arena find that their horse’s hooves become over-buffed and eventually begin to wear away.

This can also be the case, over time, with horses that are turned out onto sandy soil. It is important to discuss shoeing or trimming options with your farrier, to explore ways in which different methods of farriery may help reduce wear and tear. If you are concerned about your horse’s hooves being eroded by sand from an arena or sandy soil area, Keratex has two products which can be used to prevent and reduce the abrasive effects of sand.

The first is Keratex Hoof Hardener which is great for hardening and strengthening hooves while encouraging natural movement and suppleness. This can work well for hooves that are exposed to sandy arenas or sandy soil, because it increases the hoof’s defences against wear and tear and reduces the exfoliating effect of sand simply by making hooves stronger. Keratex Hoof Gel is a great product to shield the hooves from abrasion by adding a protective, fully breathable layer which will reduce the amount of hoof exfoliation as a result of sandy arenas or soil. As with all hoofcare issues, the basics of diet, good farriery and lifestyle management are vital in producing or maintaining good quality feet.

The risks of over-moisturising

We advise not to over-moisturise the hooves as it can be counter-productive. Science shows us that hooves with a high moisture content are softer, and that hard, less moisturised hooves are better. Since the origins of time, horses were created with naturally very hard hooves – often described as being as hard as bullets – for this reason.

Hard hooves are more capable at dealing with day-to-day demands and different terrains. Hooves that are over-moisturised may look very satiny and while this is aesthetically pleasing, after a while the over-moisturised hoof may have too much flex and bend. This can be detrimental to internal structures, much like our own nails which bend and break when too soft.

Most dehydrated hooves will improve with just two or three applications of moisturiser per week, this should be enough for the vast majority of hooves and any more than this tends to be over-kill. If you have been moisturising your horse’s hooves more than three times a week, and they have started to show cracks, micro-splits or other problems, it may be the right time to reduce your moisturiser applications per week.

Keratex Hoof Hardener and the use of formaldehyde...


Keratex Hoof Hardener

There has been much talk about the use of aldehydes for hardening and strengthening the hooves and in particular, formaldehyde.

Keratex Hoof Hardener contains a very small amount of formaldehyde in order to do its job properly. After many years of research the chemists at Keratex came up with such a groundbreaking formulation for a Hoof Hardener that a patent was applied for and accepted. No other product on the market today, anywhere in the world, has been given a patent for its ability to strengthen and harden hooves.

Keratex Hoof Hardener is now the flagship product and top of the field in terms of effectiveness and track record. It has won Product of the Year in Horse Journal and is consistently voted 5 out of 5 for effectiveness in customer reviews and testimonials.

Keratex Hoof Hardener is endorsed for effectiveness to the equine hoof by world-famous Olympic farrier, Ian Hughes.

*small amounts of formaldehyde are present in food, coffee, cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, nail polishes, eyelash glue, clothing, furniture, textiles, buildings, farming, cleaning activities and it is all around us in the environment. It is a chemical that occurs in our own bodies, and we come into contact with it every single day of our lives.

*the actual formaldehyde content in our product is low. It is not used neat or in large amounts in our product and this is absolutely crucial to understanding exactly how the product works.

*the special formulation works to cross-link the keratins that make most of the hoof and increase molecular strength from the inside out. This also means that it will not simply ‘come off’ in the field as soon as you turn out.

*formaldehyde has seen decades of use in the animal/agricultural industry – such as dairy and sheep farms – it is known that formaldehyde is very effective in the application to hooves to make them stronger and less breakable.


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