The hoof is an intricate design of blood circulatory laminae, which join the hoof wall to the skeleton and provide's a large surface area that carries blood to all areas of the hoof, helping with absorption of weight. there are two bones within the hoof, the pedal or coffin bone and the navicular bone which are supported by the short pastern to absorb the concussion and assist in the blood circulation.
Several ligaments and tendons within the leg control the mechanics and flexion of the hoof.
A healthy hoof grows approximately 1cm per month, every horse is different and just like the human finger nail, hoofs need constant attention, even just a light trim.
There are a wide variety of hoof shapes, sizes and colours, making it difficult to have a hard fast rule as to what is right and what is wrong; however, there are a few basic guidelines to follow.
- The foot is the main lever for action and also the spring, which is why constant maintenance is vital.
- The frog is the cushioning part, both absorbing and dissipating the forces of impact, therefore care and management are needed in this area.
- Ideally the hoof angle should be in alignment to the pastern as seen in a freshly shod hoof, as the hoof grows the angle changes because the toe grows quicker than the heel.
- Healthy hooves are achieved by a well balanced diet, essential vitamins and minerals and good husbandry.
Feet should be picked out daily whether out at grass or stabled, to remove any stones, matted waste or mud.
Moisturise the hoof with water or hoof dressings regularly especially in dry conditions to avoid the outer wall becoming brittle and breaking off, revealing the more sensitive areas of the hoof.
Your horse's overall health is reflected in the hoof which is why when the horse has suffered an illness or problem a rough ridge will form in the hoof wall, this indicates your horses history of health; these will grow out over aperiod of time.
Below are some points to consider when choosing a farrier
- Is your farrier registered with the Farriers Registration Council and ask what qualifications he has as this will denote his experience.
- Always try and get a personal reccomendation,
- Are they kind and patient with your horse,
- Are they up to date with changing views and methods within farriery.
- Are they reliable.
We are all aware how uncomfortable it is when walking bare foot on stones or wearing ill fitting shoes, it is the same for your horse so be aware of any changes, consult your farrier and where necessary review your horse's diet.
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