Hoof Structure and Function

The greatest concept that horse owners need to believe with hoof care is that the hoof wall was never intended to bear the horse’s weight alone with a metal ring around it. The sole, frog and bars must work in unison with the entire hoof to support the impact force of the horse. Further, a horse’s lifestyle, feeding and movement will have a huge impact to the health of the horses’ hooves and should be assessed with every hoof trimming.

Most horses don't have the structure required in the back of the hoof for a comfortable heel first landing. They will compensate by going to a toe first landing. Toe first landings have been proven to have very detrimental affects on the horse and has been found to be the main contributor to 

Navicular Syndrome / Disease

Shoeing, confinement, general lack of movement, poor environment, can all contribute to problems in the hoof.

Restricting movement causes a lack of conditioning of the lateral cartilages and digital cushions. Lateral cartilages along with the digital cushion make up the rear 1/2 of the hoof. The horse must have movement on uneven terrain and side to side flexion to fully develop the hoof.

During the time a hoof is shod, the digital cushion loses its toughness and cushioning quality. It will gain toughness when the foot lands heel first. Hind feet are generally not symmetrical in their medial-lateral (inside to outside) outline. The outside is generally wider due to different forces in the way the hind leg moves. We don't want to try to make them symmetrical. This equally applies to the front hooves. It is not necessary that the hooves look identical. Each hoof is unique. A good example of this is the club foot. One hoof will be steeper than the other. Generally, this is not a hoof problem but rather an adaption to another problem elsewhere in the body of the horse. This hoof form develops as a result of compensation.

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.  ~ Winston Churchill