Horse Hoof Health

horse hoof 1Horse hoof health is vital to the well-being of your horse. The expression “No foot, no horse” originated in 1751 by English farrier Jeremiah Bridges.So many factors contribute to the well-being of a foot. They include age, diet, temperature, compression, and blood supply. Younger horses grow foot faster than older horses. Poor diet slows or prevents healthy foot growth. Hoof walls grow more slowly in colder temperatures. Excessive compression can slow growth or if one side of the hoof wall loads unevenly that can cause slower growth. If poor blood supply, hoof growth will slow.

So many factors contribute to the well-being of a foot. They include age, diet, temperature, compression, and blood supply. Younger horses grow foot faster than older horses. Poor diet slows or prevents healthy foot growth. Hoof walls grow more slowly in colder temperatures. Excessive compression can slow growth or if one side of the hoof wall loads unevenly that can cause slower growth. If poor blood supply, hoof growth will slow.In accessing the proper balance of a foot, symmetry and balance are critical. All attempts should be made to align the hoof angle with the pastern angle which is also the same angle as the shoulder. The heel angle should be close to the angle of the front of the hoof. When viewing the foot from the bottom, two more assessments should be made. First, approximately 3/8 of an inch behind the true apex of the frog is Duckett’s Dot. This represents the center of articulation of the coffin joint. In an ideal foot, this point will represent the middle of the foot from front to back and side to side. Secondly, a similarity of heel length is critical. The bottom of the foot should be perpendicular to the boney leg column. This can be difficult to assess when legs are not perfectly straight. When all else fails, view the horse at a walk from the front and back and determine if the foot is landing flat.

horse hoof 2In accessing the proper balance of a foot, symmetry and balance are critical. All attempts should be made to align the hoof angle with the pastern angle which is also the same angle as the shoulder. The heel angle should be close to the angle of the front of the hoof. When viewing the foot from the bottom, two more assessments should be made. First, approximately 3/8 of an inch behind the true apex of the frog is Duckett’s Dot. This represents the center of articulation of the coffin joint. In an ideal foot, this point will represent the middle of the foot from front to back and side to side. Secondly, a similarity of heel length is critical. The bottom of the foot should be perpendicular to the boney leg column. This can be difficult to assess when legs are not perfectly straight. When all else fails, view the horse at a walk from the front and back and determine if the foot is landing flat.

There are always exceptions to every rule including the ones listed above. Always use a competent farrier or hoof care provider for the care of your horses or mules. Remember “No Foot, no Horse”.

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