The hoof should flex with every step

The act of flexing is the most important thing a horse can do to promote strong, healthy hooves. The flexing provides shock absorption for the joints, tendons and ligaments in the leg and shoulder. The horse’s hoof acts as a circulatory pump for hundreds of blood vessels in the hoof mechanism and helps the heart get that blood flowing back up the leg.

 5_hoof_structure_1_hoofprofilePhoto courtesy of Healthy Hoof Care Services

Without flexing:

  1. The hoof and legs will not have good circulation. The horse’s hooves will not be healthy and the heart will have to work harder to get the blood back up the legs.

  2. There will be no shock absorption with a metal shoe nailed to the hoof; no flexing can occur.

  3. Plastic shoes that flex still have the problem of nail holes and damage which can cause moisture problems and infections to the hoof.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the following highspeed video recordings of hoofs on pavement should speak volumes about the impact shoes can have on horse the lower regions of a horses’ anatomy:

Trotting shod horse hoof

Trotting barefoot horse

Comparison hoof touchdown

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