Several research studies on the use of biotin for horses showed B vitamin supplements created stronger hooves as they grew out. Biotin supplements also increased the growth rate of hooves, which take between eight and 15 months to regenerate. Researchers are not certain why biotin for horses addresses hoof problems, but recommend lifelong treatment to prevent the re-occurrence of cracked, dry hooves that might begin crumbling and become tender.
Biotin exists in most cells and converts food to energy. This B vitamin also plays a vital role in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Adrenal and thyroid glands use biotin to stabilize nerves, promote growth, and build a healthy reproductive system.
The vitamin is found naturally in some animal feed, such as alfalfa, oats, soy meal, and molasses, but only small amounts might be absorbed in a horse’s intestinal tract. The large intestine, or hind gut, absorbs biotin and other nutrients via bacteria produced when feed ferments. Some studies show the hind gut only absorbs water, which might lead to a biotin deficiency.
When biotin for horses is given as a supplement, it might allow absorption of the vitamin in the upper digestive tract, where most nutrients are used. Most commercial horse feed contains biotin and other vitamins in small amounts. Supplements of biotin should include at least 15 milligrams per day to address hoof problems, researchers found.
These supplements do not treat old growth, but create stronger hooves as they grow out. The rate of growth varies by breed and environmental factors. Hooves grow slower in cold climates and faster when a horse’s body temperature rises. Hooves of working horses also grow faster.
Hoof growth starts at the coronary band, an area on the top of the hoof where hair exists. The condition of the hoof is measured by hardness, form, and strength to withstand the horse’s weight, which is borne by the wall of the hoof. A hoof that spreads out might not be receiving adequate vitamins and minerals from the blood supply, especially biotin, which is a water-soluble vitamin excreted in the urine.
In addition to biotin for horses, most hoof supplements contain iodine, zinc, methionine, and calcium. Horses receiving these supplements showed improvement in hoof health within six months. When biotin levels were decreased or discontinued, hooves began deteriorating in most horses studied. Equine veterinarians advise continued use of biotin for horses to correct hoof problems and prevent relapse to prior conditions.