Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's the Deal with Biotin?

In a world filled with glossy magazines and internet ads promising miracle solutions to all the problems in our lives...and our horses, biotin is often an additive touted to "fix" things.

But what exactly is biotin?

Biotin is a water soluble B vitamin (specificially it is B7).  Other B vitamins which may be familiar include B9 (folic acid) and B1 (thiamine).  There are several more as well.  Vitamins are organic materials required in small amounts. 

So, what exactly is the deal with biotin?  

In horses, it is touted to help with hooves specifically.  Out of curiosity, I decided to go crawl PubMed to check it out.  So many supplements suggest they do something useful without purported research, so off I went.

One interesting study I found was "Hoof horn abnormalities in Lipizzaner horses and the effect of dietary biotin on macroscopic aspects of hoof horn quality" which was published in 1995 in the Equine Vet Journal.  It basically is a study where they visually inspected hooves of 152 Lippizanners where they discovered that the majority had soft white lines and crumbling fissures.  Sounds a little troubling indeed.  The researchers then went to the Spanish Riding School and created a double blind study (where neither researcher nor person feeding the horse exactly knew if they had biotin or the placebo) and created a regime where some of the horses received 20mg of biotin daily and some did not.

Cool to find that the stallions receiving the biotin had "significant improvement".  However, this was nine months later.  Positively though, the good effects were seen after the study was ceased as the positive hoof growth continued down the hoof wall.

Cool, I think!

There are a plethora of other studies out there regarding the positive effects of biotin.  It seems that most suggest between 10-30mg a day to be effective with a longer period of time before the positive hoof growth can be seen. 

So if anyone is on the fence about adding biotin to the diet for a horse with slightly troubling feet, then why not? 


  1. My horses are on a supplement that contains biotin as well as zinc and copper - horses' feed and forage is often deficient in both of these. And 9 months is about right - it takes at least that long for a new hoof capsule to grow in.

  2. My friend uses a Biotin supplement from Penwoods for her Percheron with crumbly hooves. Seems to work well!

  3. I've read time and again it takes 1 year for hoof to show improvement, the 9month difference makes sense in that scenario since 3/4 of the hoof will have been replaced by that point and look way more awesome :P


Please leave a comment if you like. I love hearing from readers and would like to know that I am not always talking to myself. ;)