Understanding the Equine Foot Part 4

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This week we continue with our understanding of the Equine Foot ... Linda J. Harris goes on to explain the parts of the hoof so everyone is on the same page. Toe, Pillar, Quarter, Heel, Dorsal Wall, Periople, Coronary Band, Sole, Apex, and Base of the Frog, Central Sulcus and the Hairline. Sometimes you'll hear the farrier or the vet use different terms. That's OK .. it's all pretty basic but when discussing your horse's hooves you want to be able to understand what your care provider is saying and visa-versa. 

While I've been taught (and subsequently taught others) that front hooves are round in shape, this foot as shown in the video, inside the capsule, tells me that I've been wrong in thinking that front feet are round. Others are still teaching that and even to an extreme where round pipe clamps are being used as templates to trim the front hooves. But front feet are oval in shape with the rear hooves even a bit MORE oval in shape and the hoof capsules should exhibit this in their shape. The fronts are meant for holding the static weight of the horse while the back hooves are intended for digging in and propelling the horse forward. 

Now with long toes and long, low heels as depicted in the video, one can only imagine the strain on the soft tissues of the lower limb all the way up to the shoulders and even the neck and withers. In the rears, imagine the discomfort going into the hips, pelvis, and back. (Thelwell illustration) Don't just assume a bucking horse is misbehaving but always look to the hooves and back as sources of the issue. Combine this with the discomfort of the thinning of the sole and the feet, themselves, and one doesn't have to strain to think of the pain that a horse in such a condition can feel.  Horses will refuse to stride out fully and their movement will become choppy and rough. They may start to refuse jumps or to go into the canter. They may be sore going in one direction but not necessarily the other. They might get balky or, on the other hand, may become spooky. Horses do not change their behaviors and attitudes all of a sudden without good reason. The diagnosis of "Navicular Disease" is often, erroneously, passed on to the owner. The suggestion of euthanasia has even been given on the basis of the lameness and diagnosis. A horse with this type of hoof will have Navicular *Syndrome* but not, necessarily, Navicular *Disease*.  Once the caudal hoof is restored to a healthier form the discomfort will go away, the stride will lengthen and the overall movement of the horse will be corrected to its natural state.

While diet is not discussed in this video it is important to understand that diet can certainly dictate the outcome of corrective mechanical trimming of the hoof and the recovery to soundness. 

Many lame horses are in discomfort simply from incorrect mechanical trimming. A change in diet will not alter that. However, a corrective trim AND a possible change in diet will help the horse with feet like what is shown in the video, recover very nicely and if care is maintained properly then the hooves should be fine for the long term. 

The more you understand the FOOT of the horse, the more you will understand the HOOVES of the horse. And knowing that can only help you to be able to maintain the sound health of your horse's hooves AND over-all well-being. 



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


1 comment

  • Martha : June 22, 2018

    Please send me the information about the hoof.

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