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Develop your "eye" for hoof shape

ABig ANormal ASmall

Added on: 17.06.2010


A hoof trimmed to the wild-horse shape is different from what we are used to seeing all around us.

Hoof words
Here is the bottom of a hoof, with the names of the parts:

A hoof trimmed to the wild-horse shape is different from what we are used to seeing all around us.
Here are photos from wild horses that lived and died on dry, rocky, mountainous terrain. The heel bulbs were mostly chewed off by scavengers, but otherwise the hooves are in excellent shape.
(The word "mustang" is a U.S. word meaning a feral horse, living generally in open country on plains or mountainsides -- "brumbie" in Australia. "Mustang roll" refers to the rounded bevel around the bottom of their hoof wall.)

A front foot: 

-- hoof length is very short (about 3 inches or 7.5 cm.) because the coffin bone is suspended high inside the hoof capsule. Bottom edge of wall is worn to a rounded bevel (mustang roll).

-- tight "white line" (weathering makes it look dark) with no flared wall
-- white line of the bars is visible ("bars" are the part of the hoof wall that turns inward beside the frog)
-- heel looks contracted because the frog has dried out on this cadaver


-- horse walks on the "water line," the inner, unpigmented layer of hoof wall (lightest layer in photo); outer pigmented layer is not weightbearing
-- front foot has shallow concavity -- about 1/4 inch or 6 mm. if you lay a straight edge across the foot at the point of frog

A hind foot:

-- strong, callused heels and arched quarters
-- toe is worn off to nearly halfway up the wall, in addition to mustang roll at the bottom

-- tight "white line" (weathering makes it look dark)

-- hind foot has deeper concavity than front foot
-- horse walks on the unpigmented layer, and breakover occurs there

Another hind foot.

-- toe wall is worn well up the toe, in addition to mustang roll
-- mustang roll allows early breakover

-- toe length is much shorter than hoof width, because coffin bone is suspended high inside the hoof capsule
-- mustang roll continues around the sides of the hoof

-- one bulb on this one is not chewed off; you can see the more oval shape of the complete hind foot

-- deep concavity of hind foot, with frog worn and compressed by rocky terrain

Domestic hooves will not be as short as these. Most of our horses don't travel enough daily miles on hard ground, to have a totally healthy, tight white line. The white line is weakened and stretchy, therefore the coffin bone (which "hangs underneath" the sloped hoof wall) has a lower position inside the hoof capsule. In domestic horses we can expect toe lengths of about 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 inches (8 to 9.5 cm) measured from the hairline to the ground.
If you try to trim a domestic hoof as short as these, you will have to thin the sole to do it, and this will make your horse very sore.


List of comments
Nick: AM
Date: 01.11.2014
arko67 - u tzw. murzynów jest to kwestia statusu.
Nick: arko67
Date: 17.10.2014
Murzyni często całe życie biegają boso i żyją, lecz jak któryś spróbuje pochodzić w butach już ich nie zdejmuje.
Nick: Dorota Gałecka
Date: 08.07.2010
Uważam, że kucie koni(bo moda} jest bezsensowne. Ja jeździłam cały sezon zawody skokowe na "łysym" koniu i z nogami nic się nie działo.