Understanding the Equine Foot Part 3

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"This session continues with examining how the coronary band and coronary groove of the hoof capsule can become jammed and displaced. It also demonstrates how the hoof has a natural grid built into it, with vertical horn tubule lines and horizontal growth lines of intertubular horn which can help us learn to read and balance the foot."

Trail Horse Hoof CareThe capsule of the horse's hoof SHOULD follow the form/shape of the FOOT inside the capsule.

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor


As a wild horse moves miles a day, the capsule remains pretty much the same in shape as the horse will wear the hooves and the hooves will grow according to the wear. 

While hooves differ in size and width and maybe even a bit in shape, the anatomical form of the hooves are all the same regardless of breed or type of horse. 

Since I started the Penzance Equine Integrative Educational Center with the first course on "Natural Hoofcare 101" I've stressed the importance of KNOWING THE EQUINE DIGIT - INSIDE AND OUT! I've told and still, to this day, tell my students that I want them to come out of the course with knowing the equine digit as well as they know the back of their own hands. One CANNOT CORRECTLY TRIM THE HOOVES of a horse WITHOUT KNOWING THE ANTATOMY & THE PHYSIOLOGY OF THE EQUINE DIGIT and lower limb!

Read that again ... it is that important!

Module 2 of my course is devoted to The Anatomy & Physiology of the Equine Digit .. and is stressed strongly.

I love these videos from Linda J. Harris as they really get INTO the equine FOOT to SHOW US what we need to know and do so CORRECTLY.

We use the "landmarks" of the hoof capsule to show us balance and as connected to the lower limb. (See: LANDMARKS for TRIMMING THE EQUINE FOOT) ... Linda has brought to light another landmark that is often overlooked ... that of the horizontal grid of the capsule. When lying on the ground, in front of the horse (make sure a SAFE horse that isn't going to be spooked by you lying on the ground in front of it) ... one can view the height of each side of the capsule to see how the walls compare one to another. I've found that many actually cannot see that, though ... so perhaps looking at the horizontal grid of the capsule will help them better. Using the lines and the walls can tell you where an imbalance lies. Remember, too ... in The Balanced Equine Hoof that I state that toeing-IN USUALLY depicts the INside of the wall (medial) is higher than the outside and toeing-OUT usually depicts the OUTside of the hoof wall (lateral) is higher than the inside. Many times a DIAGONAL imbalance is present  ...

These imbalances affect the FOOT of the horse which, in turn, affect the soft tissues, the SUPPORTIVE tissues (tendons, cartilages, ligaments) of the lower limb as well as the CONNECTIVE tissue of the laminae.

In other words, imbalances affect the WHOLE hoof, foot and the WHOLE HORSE ... imbalances in the hooves cause imbalances in the supportive tissues which, in turn affect the muscles which, in turn, affect the horse's way of going. 

I hope this video series of learning the TRUE Foot of the Horse is helpful to you -- please feel free to ask any questions or state any concerns or thoughts you may have concerning YOUR horse's hooves.

Stay tuned for PART 4 coming NEXT WEEK. :)  


 Main cover photo courtesy of LINDA J. HARRIS


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (239)-573-9687. For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com



  • Leesa Lavigne: April 06, 2018

    Suggestion. Instead of laying on ground.. use your phone camera. Keep a monthly diary of photos, taken with phone on ground level, front and side of hoof. It is amazing what you can see in photos that you dont notice when looking at hoof.

  • Gwenyth Santagate: January 23, 2018

    Please let me know if you are enjoying this series of Anatomy of the Equine Foot !!! Thanks. :D

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