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Donna Campbell Smith
Donna Campbell Smith, Instructor, Horse book author
Category: Horse Veterinary
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Experience:  AAS degree equine tech, graduated with honors, author, certified instructor, 30 years experience
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does feeding jello help a horses hooves? and does turpentine

Customer Question

does feeding jello help a horses hooves? and does turpentine really help to harden hooves? not venice, gum spirits of turpentine?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Donna Campbell Smith replied 8 years ago.

Dear Cheyenne,


I have heard that gelatin is good for human nails so I did some quick research and found this article about research being done on the benefits of gelatin for horses. it sounds like it may benefit joints, tendons, and ligaments. It does not say about hooves, but since the hoof grows from the coronet band perhaps it also benefits the hoof. It also sounds as if the healthy benefits occur rather quickly. I would give it a try, I don't see how it could hurt.


I have not had experience using turpentine to harden a hoof, although I see it discussed on various forums. It would dry the hoof, and that would make the hoof harder. If the horse has to be kept in wet, damp conditions, or out in snow, etc during winter then using something like turpentine as a drying agent may be beneficial. But, drying a hoof also makes it more prone to chipping and splitting. So, it is important to work through the problem also with good nutrition. A healthy hoof should be hard, but also have some flexibility and a sheen to it that "looks healthy."


Another good article from The Horse is which describes the elements of a healthy foot from the inside to the outside.


You will ahve t osign up to read these articles, but it is free and there are many other good articles on various horse health subjects.


I hope this helps answer your question.




Donna C. Smith

Expert:  HORSE_DOC replied 8 years ago.
Gelatin supplementation may be beneficial (better and quicker hoof wall growth) in horses on marginal protein intake. It probably has no effect on normal horses on normal diets.

See citations below


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Effect of feeding gelatin on skeletal, hair, cartilage and hoof growth of weaned foals.

(Foreign Title: Einfluss der Gelatinefütterung auf das Skelett-, Haar-, Knorpel- und Hufhornwachstum bei Absatzfohlen.)

Timm, A.

Klinik für Pferde, Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Hanover, Germany.

Einfluss der Gelatinefütterung auf das Skelett-, Haar-, Knorpel- und Hufhornwachstum bei Absatzfohlen., 1993, pp. 89 , 13 pp. of ref.

Between November and April, Holstein and Hanoverian newly weaned foals and yearlings were given hay 5.5, oats 2 kg and gelatin 0 and 50 g/day. Total growth, estimated by wither height, and hoof growth were significantly higher in gelatin group. From January to March, hair thickness was greater in supplemented horses. Joint gap increased significantly during winter in the gelatin group. It is suggested that marginal protein intake can be improved with gelatin providing additional amino acids and where growth of hooves and cartilage has been identified as a herd problem, nutrient supply might be optimized with gelatin supplements.

Effect of level of feed intake and gelatin supplementation on growth and quality of hoofs of ponies.

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document.write(correcthighlightinhtmlcodes("Equine Research Program, New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.") + " "); Equine Research Program, New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Journal of Animal Science, 1977, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 257-261, 17 ref.

A pelleted diet was restricted or given to appetite to 2 groups of 7 Shetland ponies from 8 months old for 117 days. During the last 56 days gelatin was added to the diets of 4 ponies in each group at 30 and 90 g/100 kg bodyweight. Ponies fed to appetite ate 180% more feed and had 50% greater rate of hoof growth, 0.384 against 0.254 mm/day. Increase in height at the withers was 200% greater and increase in bodyweight 425% greater than on restricted intake. The hooves of ponies fed to appetite had 82% greater surface area at the sole border than those restricted. Gelatin did not affect hoof growth, base area, compression strength (yield point or elasticity), moisture, Fe, Zn or N content. Rate of hoof growth declined with age. Hind hooves grew faster than front. Sex did not affect hoof growth or quality. Yield strength and elasticity were not changed by feed intake or gelatin or by Fe, Zn or N content of the hoof wall. The Zn content was more in hooves of restricted ponies. Hoof N and moisture content did not differ between groups. Hoof wall Fe was more with restricted feeding. N content was on average 17.7%. Average moisture content of all hoof samples was 27.8%. Specific gravity of limb bones was greater for ponies fed to appetite.

Expert:  Donna Campbell Smith replied 8 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX for the assistance. The pictures and statistics are interesting.