The optimum 25% moisture content is extremely difficult to maintain, especially in wet and changeable climates. More important than achieving a reasonably dry hoof is regulating and stabilising the moisture at a constant level. Maintaining a consistent moisture level allows the molecular structures of the hoof to adjust gradually to change, so damage does not occur.
The key to managing the moisture content of the hoof is understanding the environmental conditions that affect it.
The hoof structure is damaged by rapid fluctuations in the moisture content. Saturation of the hoof in wet winter conditions, and rapid drying during the summer months causes huge moisture imbalances. The rapid drying of a saturated, weakened hoof causes molecular disruption, resulting in visible cracks and splits.
Once weakened by saturation, the hoof becomes more porous, easily absorbing water from summer showers and morning dews. Excess water causes hooves to become waterlogged and weakened in a similar way that our nails become weak and pliable if we spend too long in the bath. However on a warm day this excess moisture can dissipate quickly exacerbating existing damage.
For more information, please visit the Carr and Martin and Day website.