Wild Horse Hoof Trimming
What are the characteristics of a wild horse hoof that make them so efficient and sound? I believe the following are the most important characteristics of a healthy wild hoof. I mimic these characteristics when I trim because they foster a healthy sound hoof.
1. Whole Foot Supports Weight
The wild horse hoof wants to bottom out on the ground so that the weight of the horse is supported by the ground over the largest area possible.
That means the horse's weight is supported by the wall (except the quarters) the sole, the frog, the bars; in short the entire foot. Peripherally loading a foot with all the weight on the wall alone is not natural or healthy.
|Explanation of Horse Hoof Labels |
|1 - Heel bulbs |
|2 - Heel Buttress |
|3 - Bars |
|4 - Sole |
|5 - Hoof wall at toe |
|6 - Central Sulcus |
|7 - Collateral Grooves |
|8 - Frog |
|9 - Apex of Frog |
|10 - White Line |
2. Shape of Foot
In wild horses 1/3rd of the foot is ahead of the widest part of the foot and 2/3rd is behind the widest part of the foot. In domestic horses this ratio can be reversed.
3. Horse Hoof Wall
- The Wall
The wall is a hard protective shell for the foot and it also supports weight. It is not the only weight bearing structure but it helps. It should not be shorter than the sole otherwise it is not bearing its share of the load. It shouldn't be so long that it bears more than its share of weight either. Growth rings are rare in wild horses but common in domestic ones.
Wild horses have relieved quarters (concave). Imagine you are a horse looking down at your feet. The quarters are from 2-4 o'clock and from 7-9 o'clock. If you let the sole be your guide, the quarters will often be passive (slightly concave) to the ground when the horse is standing still. This allows the foot to flatten when loaded and provides more traction than flat walls.
Wild horses have their heels worn down to the widest part of the frog. We want the frog to passively support the horse's weight; therefore the heels should be longer than the frog by a millimeter or less. Passive support means that when the foot is unweighted, the frog will be slightly off the ground by a millimeter or less (is passive). When the foot is loaded, the foot flattens and the frog touches the ground (is supportive). The foot expands and flattens due to the collateral grooves which act like folds in an accordion.
- Mustang Roll
Wild horses (living in abrasive conditions) have a rounded wall that extends from heel to heel. It allows for easier breakover and helps prevent wall cracks.
4. The Frog
- Wild horses have frogs that touch the ground when weighted. When the frog touches the ground, it:
- supports the bony column in the leg
- acts as a shock absorber and
- helps pump blood.
The frog pushes up against the digital cushion which then
squeezes blood to the toe area. For this to work correctly, the
horse must land heel first! Don't cut the frog away. Trim it
minimally to get rid of tatters and flaps where thrush can live.
The central sulcus is a groove in the centre of the frog. Keep it clean of flaps and manure or your horse may get thrush.
5. The Sole
- Differences in the Sole
Wild horses have thick soles that mostly touch the ground and support weight. Most domestic horses have thin soles so a bit of dead, retained sole will protect your horse more than hurt him. You can have too much retained sole but it is pretty rare. The sole plane is your guide for trimming the wall. Don't cut into the sole to make the foot "look nice".
- The Toe Callus
The toe callus is the point of breakover for the foot even though it is behind the wall. This is just like the human foot where the breakover point is the ball of you foot not the tip of the big toe. Leave the toe callus there; it's created by the tip of the coffin bone which is the hoof's break over point. The coffin bone wants to be supported by the sole callus which in turn touches the ground. The coffin bone does not want to be suspended in air.
6. The Bars
The bars are where the horse hoof wall has continued on and turned inward towards the centre of the foot. They are there to support weight also. With enough exercise, the bars will find their equilibrium and stop growing. The bars should not be laid over and should be "passive to" the wall and heel buttress. By passive to I mean shorter than. Otherwise it would be like walking with a rock in your shoe. Don't just remove them; they are there for a reason. They should taper gradually from the heel to the sole.
7. Collateral Grooves
The collateral grooves act like a hinge and allows the foot to expand outward. Keep the collateral grooves clean of manure. Wild horses' collateral grooves are filled with mud (not manure). The mud keeps out rocks and allows the collateral groove to bear weight and thus increase the surface area of the foot. If you live in wet conditions you may need to keep these clean.
Wild Horse Hoof Trimming Services in BC
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