About Hooves






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Tendon injuries, damage to vertebra and skeleton, wrong leg positions.
Many problems are due to the hooves.

The Hoof function is to cushion and to circulate blood in the leg while walking, and of course supporting the horse. While walking the hoof expands and retracts. If you put a iron shoe on the hoof, you prevent these natural features. Blood does not circulate anymore as intended, the shock absorption is partly lost. The horse can´t feel the ground as it would have done without shoes.

It is very unusual that an unshod horse slips, if it get to choose where to walk. Wild horses move much and wear the hoves. Even a tame horse in a large pasture with varying terrain wear their hoves. If they need their hooves trimmed the use of a rasp / grinding is quite enough. To retain the natural hoof shape is very important.
The wild horse's foot is not flat on the bottom, which we would find on our domestic horses done by a farrier.

Picture of wild horse hooves:

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Why do we shoe the horse?

Further back in time when the horse had to work hard from dusk to dawn,
the paved streets in cities, or gravel roads in the country.
It tore so much on the hooves, that a solution was to be found.
Today, riding a few times a week, usually on soft surfaces.

Why do we stil shoe the horse?

-For the others do?

-Because you asked your farrier?

-I do not know.

Do you ask your hairdresser if you need a hair cut?
Then you can probably guess the answer.

There are so many different varieties and philosophies around barefoot trim. Some seem to believe really hard on just their own method, and that everything else is wrong. Some barefoot trim are so radical that it is harmful to the horse.

A natural horse keeping with loose housing and freedom gives the horse the opportunity to wear their hooves. Only very small adjustments may be necessary.

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Thermography image showing the blood circulation after 10 minutes in trot. Three of the feet do not have shoes, the blue leg is with shoe. In virtually the whole leg is affected by the inhibited circulation.

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A comparison with the zebra which has exactly the same kind of hooves as the horse. The zebra actually is a form of wild horse. In the wild, plains zebras can walk approximately 40mi (65km) per day, which provides natural wear to their hooves. In captivity, however, animals are limited by the size of their enclosure and must rely on substrate for hoof maintenance.

In many facilities, captive zebras are commonly kept on grass and/or dirt surfaces, which are aesthetically pleasing, but do not provide a sufficiently roughened surface for hoof maintenance. Therefore, regular hoof trimming may be necessary. As for our domestic horses with to small areas and/or soft surface. Hoof trimming of captive exotic animals is a dangerous and labor-intensive procedure for the animals, as well as zoo personnel. Annual or bi-annual use of anesthetics for hoof trimming, administered via blow dart or dart gun, is potentially avoidable through enclosure design. It is well known that anesthesia is risky, particularly for exotic animals where reactions to sedation may be unpredictable. Excitement of flighty or aggressive animals adds to anesthesia risk and makes it difficult to monitor them during induction and emergence.

Proper design of the pastures would minimize or remove entirely the need for human intervention with the hooves.

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It is possible to lead paths in suitable terrain that horses have to pass daily between water and pasture. If we don´t have those possibilitie in the natural environment, just place stones or similar at places the horse´s needs to pass daily.

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A picture of a senior mare zebra in captivity, whose hooves have never been trimmed.

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A wild zebra with completely natural hoofs