Filtering Water Can Stop OnGoing Hoof Issues

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Does your horse have hoof issues?

Does your horse have skin issues?

Does your horse have weight issues?

Does your horse have issues shedding a winter coat?

Does your horse have behavioral issues?


If you answered *Yes* to any of the above questions and *No* to the last question, you'll want to read this.

It has been shown that excess iron in the horse's diet can cause on-going laminitis.

Laminitis -- that dreaded hoof condition that no owner wants to hear with respect to his or her horse!

Iron comes through many factors in a horse's diet ... from grazing to hay to grain being fed and supplements being fed. Iron is in nearly everything the horse consumes– grass, hay, dirt, water, most commercial feeds and the majority of vitamin/ mineral supplements.

One of the most influential factors of excess iron in the horse's diet can be from the water he drinks.

The 'safe' intake of iron for the average sized horse is 400 mg of iron per day for a 500 kg (1,100 pound) adult horse on maintenance feed. Anything over that and your horse is going to run into issues with the hooves, the blood, the thyroid (insulin resistance), immune system, red blood cells and more.

While soaking hay helps to remove some of the iron in the hay, if the water contains high levels of iron, one is totally defeating the purpose of soaking the hay and may be actually adding iron to the horse's diet. (The National Research Council, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, provides a list of “Nutrient Requirements of Horses.” The reference guide is available online.)

Excess iron has the negative effect  on the uptake of copper and zinc – two minerals that are often already deficient in horses’ diets – as well as manganese.  Dr. Eleanor Kellon recommends an iron: copper: zinc: manganese ratio  somewhere between 10:1:3: 3 to 4:1:3:3, with the latter ratio being recommended for Insulin Resistant (IR) horses.

So given this information I'm sure you are wondering just HOW to eliminate or reduce the amount of iron in your horse's diet.

Check labels to see the amounts of iron in the feed or supplement. Get an analysis done of the hay you are feeding. You also might test the soil of your grazing fields ... grasses grown on acidic soils are more likely to be high in iron. Lime added to the fields will help to reduce the iron levels in the ground.

One of the simplest thing you can do to reduce the iron in your horse's diet is to filter your water.

There are a few good, inexpensive filters that can be attached right to the spigot head to which to attach your hose, at the end or your hose or you can get a filtration system for your water pump.

I hope this short blurb will help you ferret out the reasons you may be facing hoof, whole health and behavioral issues with your horse.


  • “Metabolism of Insulin reduced with increased Iron stores leading to peripheral hyperinsulinemia.” Diabetes 2002.
  • Evidence high Iron overload leads to skeletal muscle being effected, the main effector of Insulin.  Diabetes 2002.
  • High iron leads to toxic-free radicals.  Diabetes 2002.
  • Inflammatory cytokines increase Iron uptake and deposition leading to Insulin increases.  Diabetes, 2002.
  • Iron in high levels leads to Insulin Resistance. Alim. Pharmaco Ther. 2005.
  • Decreasing Iron stored can increase Insulin sensitivity. Clin. Chem 2005.
  • Systemic Iron overload contributes to abnormal glucose metabolism and elevated Insulin. Diabetes Care 2007.
  • Excess Iron in the body increases susceptibility to bacterial infections.  Horse Nutrition, Davies, 2009.
  • Equine cases where chronic Laminitis attacks were alleviated by removing excess Iron supplements from diet.  Feed your horse like a horse, J. Getty, 2010.
  • Michigan State University looked at blood ferritin (iron) levels and effects on Insulin.  Horses with high ferritin had higher Insulin responses.  “If a horse is overweight or not given sufficient exercise, then it might warrant trying to give feed stuffs lower in Iron or, more importantly, not giving as much feed or feed higher quality.” Dr. Neilson, 2012, J. Zoo Wild Med. 

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1 comment

  • Jane Fisher: September 23, 2018

    Good article. When dealing with hooves that have little improvement to what they should, I have asked owners to check bore and dam water for iron levels. Unfortunately not every owner has done this and the ‘mystery’ continues. For those that have, results have been great. From disappearing hoof cracks and cresty necks to darker coats and healthier immune systems. Thicker soles and healthier frogs. The water is often overlooked.

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