“No foot, No horse” is a saying I learned as a young child. I was taught early on to check feet and legs, clean hooves, and have routine farrier care for my horses.
These hooves above are 8 weeks out. Which is obviously too long for this horse. Some horses grow a lot of hoof that is fragile. Some horses grow a little hoof that is strong. And they fall everywhere in between.
See the difference? That long toe creates a long break over which puts extra stress on tendons.
When discussing comparative anatomy, you must realize that horses walk on a single “finger”.
Their hoof is comparative to our middle fingernail. That bone inside of the hood is called the “coffin” bone because without it, the horse can’t live. It is the third phalanx, also known as P3.
Hoof care is such an important part of the horse’s health and performance ability. Many people will try to get an extra week or two out of a set of shoes or a trim. This is unhealthy and can actually be dangerous to both horse and rider.
Allowing the hoof to grow out too long changes the hoof-pastern angle, which increases break over and can cause tripping, ligament damage, and vertebral misalignment.
People will argue things like “wild horses don’t have regular hoof care”.
Let’s think about that.
Wild horses run all day, don’t have good nutrition, and the crippled ones get eaten by coyotes. They aren’t expected to carry riders, be non-painful, or live very long.
Long hooves can break off and create chronic cracks which lead to infection and hoof disease and ultimately lameness.
Our performance horses eat excellent nutrition, get exercised regularly, spend time in a stall, and are expected to perform like an athlete. We also have a long and comfortable life expectancy for them.
As a veterinarian who performs animal chiropractic adjustments, I assure you that without proper hoof care, your horse will have chronic chiropractic subluxations and be uncomfortable.
Please keep a strict 5-7 week schedule of hoof care for your equine companions.
Healthy Horse Hooves = Happy Horses and Riders!
(Also happy dogs)