What Happens To Horse Hooves In The Wild? (Solution)

Wild horses maintain their own hooves by moving many kilometres a day across a variety of surfaces. This keeps their hooves in good condition as the movement across abrasive surfaces wears (‘trims’) the hooves on a continual basis. Unshod horses need regular trimming.


  • The horses hooves grow continually, in the wild they wear them down, in a soft paddock they will grow too long and need trimming. Horses hooves also respond to moisture the hoof can soften or harden depending on if it’s wet or dry.

What do wild horses do with their hooves?

Wild horses maintain their hooves by running and walking long distances daily over abrasive terrain. This wears their hooves down naturally, at the same rate that they grow, preventing overgrowing, splitting, or cracking.

Why do wild horses not need shoes?

Wild horses don’t need horseshoes, unlike domestic horses. It is a form of protection where the downward pressure on each step goes into that metal plate and not the surface of the hoove. It gives greater protection and prevents damage. But, this extra layer means that there isn’t the same wear on the hoof.

Do horse hooves overgrow in the wild?

The horses hooves grow continually, in the wild they wear them down, in a soft paddock they will grow too long and need trimming. Horses hooves also respond to moisture the hoof can soften or harden depending on if it’s wet or dry.

What happens if you don’t trim a horse’s hooves?

Hoof trimming also is necessary to prevent other foot distortion problems; poor hoof care can make horses more prone to injuries and can cause fungal infections, sole bruises, or abscesses of the hoof. “Untrimmed or poorly trimmed feet are prone to flaring, chipping, and hoof defects,” Maki said.

Do horses feel pain in their hooves?

Since there are no nerve endings in the outer section of the hoof, a horse doesn’t feel any pain when horseshoes are nailed on. Since their hooves continue to grow even with horseshoes on, a farrier will need to trim, adjust, and reset a horse’s shoes on a regular basis.

Do horseshoes hurt the horse?

Like human nails, horse hooves themselves do not contain any pain receptors, so nailing a shoe into a hoof does not hurt. However, what can hurt is an improperly mounted horse shoe. When a horseshoe is mounted incorrectly, it can rub the soft tissue of the sole and the frog, causing pain and leaving your horse lame.

Do horses like to be ridden?

Most horses are okay with being ridden. As far as enjoying being ridden, it’s likely most horses simply tolerate it rather than liking it. However, many people argue that if horses wouldn’t want us to ride them, they could easily throw us off, which is exactly what some horses do.

Why do horses sleep standing up?

To protect themselves, horses instead doze while standing. They’re able to do this through the stay apparatus, a special system of tendons and ligaments that enables a horse to lock the major joints in its legs. The horse can then relax and nap without worrying about falling.

What happened to horses before horseshoes?

A thousand years before any one thought to write about the process, horses had some sort of hoof protection. Horsemen throughout Asia equipped their horses with booties made from hides and woven from plants.

Do horse hooves grow back?

Since the average hoof is 3 to 4 inches in length, the horse grows a new hoof every year. Rapidly growing hooves are considered to be higher quality and easier to keep properly trimmed and shod. Factors that effect hoof growth are age, season, irritation or injury of sensitive structures, and nutrition.

Do wild horses have predators?

Predators of the horse include humans, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes and even bears.

Do horses need horseshoes?

Horses wear shoes primarily to strengthen and protect the hooves and feet, and to prevent the hooves from wearing down too quickly. Horseshoes can be used to add durability and strength to the hoof, helping to ensure it does not wear out too fast.

Do horses like their hooves cleaned?

No, horses don’t like being shod, they tolerate it. I have a brother who was a farrier for 40 years (farrier is what you call a person who shoes horses) most horses like having their feet cleaned and trimmed as the frog part of the hoof stone bruises easily.

Does hoof trimming hurt?

Just like we have to keep our fingernails trimmed, a horse’s hooves also need regular trimming. And just like cutting your fingernails doesn’t hurt if you do it properly, trimming a horse’s hooves shouldn’t hurt either. Shoeing a horse should always be done by an experienced, professional farrier.

Are hooves toenails?

The short answer is yes! The hoof is made up by an outer part called the hoof capsule and an inner living part containing soft tissues and bone.

Natural hoof care – Wikipedia

A horse with boots on for a trail ride (the horse is in a transition period where it cannot be ridden barefoot after shoe removal) Natural foot care is the process of maintaining horses in such a way that their feet are naturally worn down, or of trimming their hooves to mimic natural wear. Thus, they are spared from overgrowth, splitting, and other problems. Despite the fact that horseshoes are rarely used, domesticated horses may still require trimming, exercise, and other procedures in order to retain their natural form and degree of wear.

The hooves of barefoot horses are trimmed with special concern given to the fact that they will be walking barefoot.

The practice of keeping horses barefoot is practiced in many regions of the world.


Thousands of years passed before the invention of horseshoes, during which time people ridden horses and utilized them for labor. Xenophon, in his classic treatise on horsemanship, said that “naturally sound hooves were spoilt in most stalls,” and he recommended techniques to strengthen horses’ feet, which included: I would recommend that you take four or five waggon loads of pebbles, each as large as can be grasped in the hand and weighing about a pound, and throw them down loosely in a stable-yard, with a skirting of iron around it to prevent the pebbles from scattering.

This will ensure the best type of stable-yard and will also strengthen the horse’s feet.

It is not just the hoofs that get hard, but a surface that is littered with stones will also tend to harden the frog of the foot.

Benefits of barefooting

While horses have been handled without shoes throughout history, the benefits of keeping horses barefoot have lately gained more attention due to the numerous studies that have been conducted. The horse not only benefits from a healthy hoof, but it may also be less expensive to maintain a horse barefoot in some situations. Many horse owners have learnt to trim their horses’ hooves themselves as a result of this learning curve.

As the health and mobility benefits of barefooting in horses who have completed transition have become more evident, horses are now being competed barefoot in a variety of sports (includingdressage,show jumping,flat racing,steeplechaseracing,trail ridingandendurance riding).

Barefoot trim

Hoof nippers are used to begin trimming the hoof wall at the beginning of the trimming process. Several types of barefoot trimming are available today, including the Wild Horse or “Natural Trim” (developed by Jaime Jackson), the 4-Point Trim (developed by Dr. Rick Reddin of the National Association of Natural Resource Conservation), the Strasser Trim (one of the most controversial, as the horse’s sole and bars are scooped out to widen the frog), and the “Pete Ramey” trim, in which elements of the wild horse trim are the goal but the process includes Some styles, such as the 4-Point Trim, can be worn alone or in conjunction with footwear.

A natural approach to hoof care is promoted as an alternative to farrier trims, which are sold as a means of achieving high performance hooves without the need for shoes (depending upon the individual trimming method).

In order to replicate the method in which hooves are naturally maintained in *healthy* wild horse herds, such asferal horse herds such as the American Mustang or the Australian Brumby, as well as wild zebras and other wild equine populations, the barefoot trim is applied in two stages.

However, the wild horse studies and measurements gathered by Jaime Jackson, who was a farrier at the time and who collaborated with farrier Leslie Emery (author,Horseshoeing TheoryPractice) from 1982 to 1986 (The Natural Horse: Lessons from the Wild, 1992/1988 American Farriers Association annual conference) contradict Ovnicek’s findings (The Natural Horse: Lessons from the Wild).

Another distinction between the barefoot trim and the pasture trim is that the hoof wall is left lengthy and in contact with the ground in the pasture trim.

An important factor in the effectiveness of the barefoot trim is taking into account the domestic horse’s habitat and use, as well as the impact that these have on hoof balance, form, and the comfort of the horse in general.

The removal of horseshoes and the use of barefoot trimming procedures can prevent or in some cases eradicate founder (laminitis) in horses as well asnavicular syndrome, according to some study, although there has been no rigorous double blind trials to support this claim.

If the horse’s diet is not natural, inflammation will result, and the horse will be unable to feel comfortable.

Impact of horseshoes

The Roman legions may have been the first to use removable iron horseshoes, known as ” hipposandals “, on their horses. By the Middle Ages, it is likely that nailed-on shoes were being used in Europe. From the Middle Ages to the present, horses were shod with nailed-on horseshoes, while well-trained farriers could also conduct barefoot trimming on horses that did not require the added protection of shoes. Shoeing most horses in active competition or work has been normal practice in recent years.

  1. Proponents of barefooting point out the numerous advantages of keeping horses barefoot, and they give research demonstrating how incorrect horseshoeing can cause or worsen various hoof problems in the horse.
  2. Symptoms of damage caused by inadequately fitting and placed horseshoes include a progressive deformation of the hoof shape, in addition to other problems.
  3. According on the horse’s previous condition, it might take weeks, months, a year, or even longer until a horse is sound and useable on bare feet.
  4. However, these boots, especially when not correctly placed and utilized, can cause hoof damage as well as healing problems.

Hoof health

Diet and physical activity are the two factors that might have a direct impact on the health of the hoof. Observers of wild horse populations have noted that when horses are in a herd scenario and are allowed to walk around 24 hours a day, as wild horses are, the health of the equine foot is noticeably improved, allowing for greater circulation inside the hoof. In order to maintain optimal foot health, it is advised that horses be permitted to walk at least five kilometers every day. The landscape should be diverse, with gravel or hard surfaces as well as a water feature so the horses’ hooves may get a little wet every now and again.

Even hay or grass that is heavy in sugar might induce laminitis in certain people.

Animal feed and forage containing high quantities of sugar (carbohydrates) are associated with a greater risk of clinical or subclinical laminitis, along with other hoof problems.

D-Biotin supplements, which frequently include the sulfur-containing amino acid dl-Methionine, are well-known supplements that, if lacking or unbalanced in the diet, may be beneficial for controlling hoof health.

They noted that the feet of these horses were different from those of domestic horses housed on softpasture, with shorter toes and thicker, stronger hoof walls than domestic horses reared in softpasture.


The question of whether it is better for the horse to walk barefoot or in shoes is one that has generated significant debate. Conservatives claim that domesticated horses are constantly subjected to unnatural levels of activity, stress, and strain, and that their hooves suffer from excessive wear and shock as a result. Horses housed in stables do not have the same exposure to the environment as wild horses, which can have an impact on the health of their hooves. Aside from that, people occasionally choose specific characteristics over hoof quality (such as speed), and may breed horses with poor hoof condition if they are outstanding athletes.

According to proponents of traditional foot care, shoeing is important to preserve the hoof from unnatural deterioration, and the horseshoe and its different incarnations have been vital to maintain the horse’s utility in harsh and unnatural situations.

See also

  • Equines’ forelimb anatomy
  • Equine podiatry
  • Farrier
  • Equine care
  • Horseshoe
  • Hiltrud Strasser
  • Jaime Jackson
  • Horse hoof
  • Lameness (in horses)


  1. T. Teskey (2005), “The unfettered foot: A paradigm shift in equine podiatry,” Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 25(2): 77–83, doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2005.01.011
  2. T. Teskey (2005), “The unfettered foot: A paradigm shift in equine podiatry,” Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 25(2): 77–83, doi: 10.1016/j. ABC News, A load of horses’ hooves (23 July 2007)
  3. “Why Go Barefoot?”
  4. “Why Go Barefoot?” On Horsemanship, by Xenophon, translated by H. G. Dakyns (January 1998), available at Project Gutenberg
  5. “The Natural Hoof: A Sign of the Times,” The Horse (October 10, 2001)
  6. “Equine Lameness Prevention Organization, Inc. – Powered by AMO” (Equine Lameness Prevention Organization, Inc. – Powered by AMO). Retrieved2019-04-28
  7. s^ Equine Podiatry | Dr. Stephen O’Grady, veterinarians, farriers, books, and articles
  8. AbSummary Notes: 1998 Heumphreus Memorial Lecture
  9. Natural Hoof Care, Maple Plain, Minnesota
  10. Laminitis, Navicular Syndrome, Coffin Bone Penetration – Natural Hoof Care
  11. Hipposandal, taken from the British Museum’s website on August 23, 2007
  12. The Natural Horse: Lessons Learned in the Wild is a book on the natural horse. Jaime Jackson, Northland Publishing, 1992
  13. Safergrass.org (Grass polysaccharides and laminitis are discussed in detail in these articles. The Horse: A New Study on the Role of Sugar and Starch in the Development of Laminitis
  14. Kauffman’s Animal Health (2012), Biotin Hoof Supplement Promotes Improved Hoof Health
  15. “The Perfect Horse.” Sunday, April 25, 2021
  16. Isbn 978-1-58150-136-0
  17. Heather Smith Thomas (2006), Understanding Equine Hoof Care, pp. 23–26
  • A Guide to Natural Trimming: Principles and Techniques, J. Jackson, J Jackson Publishing, 2012
  • J. Jackson Publishing, 2012

Horseshoes: What Exactly Are Their Purpose?

Have you ever wondered why horses wear shoes? If you have, you’re not alone. What exactly is the function of horseshoes? Fortunately, we at Mountain Creek Riding Stable are on hand to provide you with some swift responses!

The Purpose of Horseshoes

Horseshoes are quite common, and it would be difficult to come across someone who is unfamiliar with their appearance. But why are they a thing in the first place? And why do practically all horses (with the exception of wild ones) appear to be wearing them? Horseshoes are used to assist extend the life of the hoof on working horses by strengthening the shoeing area. The hoof itself is composed of the same material as your fingernail, which is known as keratin. Although the hoof has a hard outer surface, it includes a delicate and tender inner portion known as the frog (circled in the image above) that can be harmed.

Of what material are horseshoes are made?

Horseshoes are almost always composed of steel, however there are several exceptions to this rule. Aluminum horseshoes are commonly used on racehorses because they are lighter than steel and, as a result, perform better when speed is the most important factor. Horses can also be fitted with “boots” to protect their hooves and feet if they suffer a hoof or foot injury. There is a rubber horseshoe integrated into the bottom of these “boots,” which makes for a considerably more comfortable walking surface and more significant support than traditional footwear.

See also:  What Does Gelded Horse Meanwitcher 3 Horse Race Which Horse? (Best solution)

How horseshoes are put on the horse

Farriers are those who work with horses to place horseshoes on them (also spelled ferrier). Nails (such as the ones depicted above) are used by farriers to secure the horseshoe to the horse’s hoof. In addition, as previously said, horses’ hooves are formed of the same substance as your nail and, just as you don’t feel anything when you trim your nails, horses don’t feel anything when the horseshoe is attached to the hoof. Once the nails have been driven into the outside border of the hoof, the farrier bends them over so that they form a type of hook in the ground.

To guarantee a proper fit, they will file away any sharp edges that are still present along with a portion of the hoof. As the hoof develops in length, it will ultimately overflow the shoe, which is how you will know when they need to be re-shod (see illustration).

Barefoot horses

You may come across a horse that is completely devoid of horseshoes every now and again. Wild horses, on the other hand, do not wear shoes. Horses who do not wear shoes in the working world do so as a consequence of having an issue with their feet, according to the ASPCA. It is possible that their hooves are too fragile, or that they have broken off a portion of their hoof, causing the shoe to not be properly secured to their foot. These horses will still be able to provide trail rides and work on the farm, but they will be restricted in the amount of time they can put in.

As a result, they wear down their hooves at a slower rate than their hooves grow.

Why horseshoes are essential for trail riding

Hack horses are horses that are used for trail rides, and the shoes they wear are of vital significance to them. The hooves would wear away quicker than they would develop, especially if the trail rides were done on a paved surface or hard-packed earth (such as the Grand Canyon). This might result in the horses being unable to perform their duties. Horses that are well-maintained will always wear shoes on their feet to protect their feet and allow them to work the 8-5 grind. In addition to the foregoing, we at Mountain Creek Riding Stable shoe our horses because of the anti-skid capabilities of the shoeing material.

Carbraze is a metal alloy composed of tungsten carbide particles suspended in a brass/nickel base.

Once it has cooled, the tungsten particles protrude from the surface and function as ice cleats for people, providing greater grip on slick roads and sidewalks.

We hope you have gained some knowledge about horseshoes, and if you have any more queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves?

Many people are curious in horse upkeep in the wild, especially in light of the increased media attention given to the BLM Mustangs and the celebrations staged on the east coast for island ponies. Horses are delicate creatures who require a great deal of human interaction.

Horses, on the other hand, demand a great deal from us because of the way we care for them in general. In the case of wild horses, how do they maintain their hooves when our farriers come out every six weeks on the dot as scheduled?

The Hoof

Horse hooves, in contrast to the widespread misconception, have no similarity to a toenail. Hooves are essentially thick covers that provide protection at the end of the leg as well as shock absorption and cushioning. Perhaps the resemblance can be traced back to keratin makeup, which is found in our hair and nails. Buthooves, as opposed to nails, serve to preserve the coffin bone. The coffin bone, also known as the pedal bone, is the lowest bone in a horse’s front and hind legs, and it is located near the ankle.

So farriers have earned our trust and gratitude.

Selective Breeding

When we take horses from the wild and manage their breeding, we are able to choose which characteristics and characteristics are handed down to the next generation. Someone may have a horse that has ongoing foot problems or even conformation concerns, but they may simply address this by corrective shoeing the horse. This horse may be utilized for breeding in the future if things go well. Survival of the fittest is the only rule in the wild. These horses, who are prone to foot problems or inappropriate development, will not be able to live.

Horses are prey animals that hunt other animals.

Consequently, horses with foot difficulties are naturally culled since they will be unable to keep up with the rest of the herd in the absence of artificial measures.

Horses in Captivity

The natural state of horses is for them to be out on the pasture or in stables, and this is not what they are designed to do. This is in direct opposition to their very essence. In the case of horses kept in captivity as a result of human intervention, difficulties occur that would not otherwise exist. Captivity and a lack of stimulation are the causes of cribbing, weaving, and other neurotic activities in animals. In the wild, a horse would travel on average 10-20 miles a day merely to meet his or her nutritional and water needs!

Horses are able to travel freely in the natural environment once more.

A horse on a pasture, on the other hand, may not have access to a shelter or even trees.

When they are in captivity, we take away their ability to care for themselves.

How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves?

The natural state of horses is for them to be out in the pasture or in stables, and this is not how they should be maintained. This is in direct opposition to their natural disposition. In the case of horses kept in captivity as a result of human intervention, difficulties occur that would not otherwise arise. Captivity and a lack of stimulation are the causes of cribbing, weaving, and other neurotic activities in captive animals. In the wild, a horse will travel on average 10-20 kilometers a day only to meet his or her nutritional and water needs.

Horses are able to travel freely in the wild once more.

A horse on a meadow, on the other hand, might not have access to a shelter or even to trees. Consequently, in more severe conditions, the owners may decide to wrap the horse. During their imprisonment, we take away their ability to self-care. Formula de Fondo de Performación Platinum

Natural Hoof Care

Furthermore, horses in the wild have the freedom to roam about, which means that they will not be compelled to stand in damp or rainy conditions. Following heavy rains, pasture horses may become stranded in flooded pastures with no alternative means of escape. Horse feet are particularly vulnerable to damage from excessive wetness, which can lead to bacterial and fungal diseases. Unlike domestic horses, wild horses have the flexibility to go to higher ground at any time, and they will never be locked in a stall that has been left dirty or coated in urine-soaked shavings.

Horses in the wild are not burdened with enormous burdens, forced to ride on harsh surfaces such as asphalt or concrete, or subjected to artificial workloads as a result of human riding and working.

In most cases, a horse with weak hooves, imbalances, or other abnormalities that would necessitate shoeing in order for the horse to perform properly would be unable to keep up with the herd.

Closing Thoughts- Wild Horse Hooves

As horse owners, it’s difficult to picture a horse that is “low maintenance” in any way! However, in reality, the majority of our duties as horse owners stem from the fact that we have chosen to keep these creatures in captivity. Because of this, frequent farrier visits and enrichment are extremely vital for the contemporary domesticated horse. Do you have horse-loving friends? Make sure to spread the word about this post!

The Benefits of Natural Hoof Care and the Wild Horse as a Model

A wild Mustang hoof, completely untouched by human hands. Thanks to Jeff Dixon for the photo.Published in Saddle Up Magazine November 2014There are a lot of interpretations of natural trimming, and every clinician seems to have their own method. What each of these methods have in common is their connection to the wild horse model. The wild horse model is simply a style of trimming based on the wear patterns on the hooves of the wild mustangs in the US Great Basin.Even though they don’t live the same untamed lifestyle, our horses’ genetics are the same as their wild relatives. Hundreds of years of selective breeding has not changed the genetic makeup of our horses. Science has proven that it takes between 5000 and 10000 years for evolution to change the base genetics of any species. While we do select specific traits to carry forward through our breeding practices, the genetic makeup of our horses is the same.Is it fair to compare our domestic horses’ hooves to their wild counterparts? This is a question I get asked often, and my answer is yes.“Domestic horses are really nothing more than wild horses in captivity” -Joe CampIn May of 2014 I traveled to the Steen Mountains of Oregon to study and observe the wild mustangs that live there. What I saw was amazing. Horses with strong, hard hooves, traversing extremely rocky and uneven terrain. They galloped over it as if they were floating. The mustangs were in peak health, muscled and toned and moving with impulsion and vigour. In the approximately 500 horses we encountered, fewer than 5 showed signs of lameness. These horses could traverse terrain that our domestic horses would stumble and trip over even with strongest of hooves and hoof protection. It gave me a great appreciation for how much more our horses could be capable of if only they were not held back by our ideals.The benefits of natural trimming with the wild horse as a model are many. The most important being that the hoof can expand and contract upon impact with each step. This the primary way the hoof dissipates the energy of impact, it also increases the circulation of blood through the limbs, reducing the stress on the heart. The horse will also have much fewer chiropractic, muscle and joint problems. It reduces the risk of tendon and ligament strain and damage significantly. Many horses started barefoot from a young age will never have to deal with arthritis, navicular syndrome or many of the other hoof pathologies that develop from improper hoof mechanics and function. Rarely are any of these pathologies seen in the wild.Domestic horses should move functionally the same as a wild horse. They should strike the ground heel first and allow the shock absorbing functions in the hoof to dissipate the energy. Wild horses wear their hooves constantly because of the abrasive terrain that they live on and because they move 20-40 miles every day. Our domestic horses generally don’t get worked enough on varied terrain to wear their own hooves effectively. It is up to us to keep them trimmed and balanced to allow the hoof to function mechanically how it is intended. Because they are anatomically the same, I believe the wild horse makes a great model for trimming our domestic horses.We must have realistic expectations however in comparing our domestic horses to the wild horse in terms of their capabilities. In the right circumstance they are one and the same, but to take a domestic horse that lives in a soft dirt paddock and ask him to traverse the rocky terrain of the wild horse would be unfair. We must condition our horses to the environment we want them to perform in. That means that if we want our horse to be comfortable on rocky ground we need to allow him to live on rocky ground. With proper trimming and care his hooves will callous and strengthen and he will be able. In cases where it is not possible to condition the horse hoof protection is needed.Many horses develop hoof pathologies as a result of improper hoof care, living conditions or ill health and these hooves need extensive time for rehabilitation. In most cases the horses’ comfort level can be improved, it is only in severe cases that pain management becomes the primary focus. You would never see these horses in the wild as they would not survive on their own, it is only with our help that they can be rehabilitated or managed. Ironically if they had been born wild instead of into domestication, it is unlikely they would have been afflicted with these pathologies in the first place.That is interesting that protection is needed if the hoof cannot be trimmed. Maybe I should look into something like this for my horse. This way I could keep my horse protected properly.

Leave a Reply.

Horses that have been domesticated require continual care and attention in order to remain fit and healthy. Even if horses in the wild managed to keep their hooves in good condition, it would be difficult to conceive how they did it between regular trips to the farrier and practically daily hoof washing. Wild horses keep their hooves in good condition by sprinting and walking vast distances across harsh terrain on a regular basis. This naturally wears down their hooves at the same pace at which they develop, preventing them from overgrowing, splitting, or breaking as a result of overgrowth.

Maintaining a horse’s feet is time-consuming and may appear unnecessary if wild horses are capable of taking care of their own hooves.

Horse owners are increasingly embracing the technique of barefooting their horses, which involves keeping their horses without shoes.

What are Horse Hooves Made Of?

When it comes to horses’ hooves, they are sometimes likened to toenails, however this is not an honest representation of what horses’ hooves are and what purpose they play. Hooves are composed of keratin, which is the same substance that is used to construct human nails. The only thing that hooves and nails have in common is that they are both made of wood. Hooves are thick layers of keratin that cover the tips of a horse’s legs and protect its feet.

Horses’ coffin bones are protected from the stress of impact when they walk or run because of the tendons and ligaments that attach them to their legs. The coffin bones, also known as the pedal bones, are the bones at the bottom of a horse’s front and hind legs that are the most fragile.

Survival of the Fittest Horse Hoofs

Domestic horses who are genetically susceptible to foot difficulties require more regular hoof clipping and specific care than other horses. It is possible to employ shoeing to address persistent hoof problems or even to correct abnormalities in a horse’s conformation. These horses would not be able to live in the wild on their own. Natural selection ensures that only the fittest and healthiest horses survive and pass on their genes to the next generation of horses. Horses are prey animals in their natural environment.

They will not be able to run and hide from predators in the same way that the rest of the herd will.

Horses with foot problems do not inherit the genes that cause them.

This explains why only a small number of wild horses have issues preserving their hooves.

Selective Breeding and Hoof Issues in Horses

Horses that have been domesticated are selectively bred for certain features. Breeders, rather than natural selection, determine which characteristics and characteristics are attractive. Horses with foot difficulties or problems as a result of their conformation are frequently employed for breeding purposes since shoeing may repair or control the condition in most cases. This results in the transmission of weak foot genes to the following generation, and poor hoof quality becomes established in a breed.

A Brief History of Hoof Care

Riding horses and employing them for labor has been a tradition for humans for thousands of years. The importance of hoof care has been recognized since the time of the Ancient Greeks (c. 1500 BC to 300 BC). The Ancient Greeks, despite the fact that they did not shoe their horses, did have means of strengthening the horses’ hooves and feet. By covering horses’ fences with a thick coating of hand-sized stones and pebbles, they were able to guarantee that their hooves wore down naturally and that the frogs of their feet hardened over time.

They were detachable shoes, similar to the hoof boots we use today, that were meant to keep horses’ hooves from wearing out on the long highways they went on on their journeys across the country.

Meanwhile, natural hoof care and barefoot trimming were also being done on the horses.

The Importance of Hoof Care

Horses that have been domesticated are maintained in situations that are far from nature. Their stables are crammed with fluffy bedding, and their fields are lush with lush green pastureland. They do not cover the vast distances that wild horses do on a daily basis. As a result, their hooves are rarely in touch with abrasive surfaces, which would otherwise cause them to wear down. Working horses and horses used for leisure riding are capable of carrying far higher weights than horses in the wild.

  1. It implies that there is more impact and wear on the hooves as a result of this.
  2. Because of the heavy rains and flooded pastures, horses must either be confined to their stalls or be forced to stand in the muddy, wet field if they do not have access to other turnout choices.
  3. Horses’ hooves must be cleaned and trimmed on a regular basis for the reasons stated above in order to prevent overgrowth, splitting, and infection.
  4. The horses’ ability to move properly is hampered as the angle of their legs becomes increasingly abnormal, resulting in discomfort and anguish for them.

When the soft tissues in their legs are injured, a horse may become immobile and cease moving completely. Domestic horses can suffer from life-threatening ailments if their hooves are not properly cared for.

Hoof Maintenance for Domesticated Horses

An individual horse’s features (weight, hoof quality, and conformation), the terrain (whether soft, hard, rocky, or abrasive), the amount of labor, and their stride all play a role in determining how much and how often he or she requires foot treatment. Keeping horses’ feet in good condition involves using the following common practices:

  • Horses are shod for riding. Shoes are put on horses for the first time when they are initially mounted, and they are renewed every few months after that. Horseshoes are used to strengthen and protect the hooves and feet of working horses. It is necessary to trim the hooves in order to slow the pace at which the hoof margin wears away, thereby lowering the danger of harm to the soft, inner section of the hoof known as the frog. The hooves of a horse must be trimmed every four to eight weeks by the animal’s owner or farrier. Regular trimming and hoof picking keep the horse’s feet in the best possible posture and remove any extra growth from the horse’s feet. Keeping the hooves clear of dirt, mulch, and dung helps to avoid the development of thrush and other illnesses. Grassy meadows. Horses would never walk or stand on muddy, wet land in the wilderness. It is possible to avoid moisture from damaging their hooves by keeping their pastures dry
  • Daily exercise. It is recommended that horses be permitted to walk a minimum of 5 miles (8 km) every day in order to ensure proper blood circulation to their hooves and gradually wear them down. Hard surfaces like gravel should be present on the terrain.

These procedures assist to keep horses’ hooves in good condition, to improve their performance, and to avoid injuries from occurring.

Diet and Hoof Health

The nutrition of a horse has a direct influence on the growth of its hooves. In part due to the fact that domesticated horses consume a far higher quality food than wild horses, their hooves grow at a quicker rate. Consuming a diet that is excessively heavy in sugars and carbs can result in laminitis, a condition that affects the feet of horses. When laminitis first appears, horses will have foot discomfort, and as the condition worsens, they will be unable to move owing to the severity of the pain.

Unfortunately, horses suffering from severe laminitis must be put down.

In addition to strengthening the immune system, the amino acid DL-Methionine, which is commonly present in D-Biotin supplements, has been shown to assist in regulating hoof health.

Wild Horses Do Not Need to Maintain Their Hooves

Wild horses are not mindful of the fact that they need to maintain their hooves. Their hooves are naturally kept at a healthy length by the wear and tear caused by the varied surfaces on which they walk and gallop. Wild horses will typically travel between 10 and 20 miles (16 and 32 kilometers) each day in order to fulfill their pasture and water needs. They travel across hard, rocky terrain that abrades their hooves as they move through. They may wear down their hooves at a pace that is almost equal to the rate at which they grow.

As a result, wild horses do not have to trim, clean, or otherwise maintain their hooves, as domesticated horses do.

The Barefoot Horse Movement

In recent years, there has been an increasing trend for keeping horses barefoot or unshod. This approach draws inspiration from the way wild horses care for their hooves, as well as the horses of Mongolia and South America that are employed for labor but are never shod, to create a more natural environment for horses. There are several advantages to keeping a horse barefoot, including the following:

  • It is less costly than maintaining a horse’s shoes. Horseshoes, as well as their upkeep, may be very expensive. Due to the fact that barefoot trims are easier to complete, once a horse owner has learned how to trim, they will no longer require the services of a farrier
  • The improved blood circulation to their feet allows horses to have healthier and stronger hooves. It has the potential to lower the risk of disorders such as laminitis and navicular syndrome.

In light of the numerous advantages of barefooting, even competitive horses in disciplines such as dressage, showjumping, racing, endurance riding, and trail riding are now being allowed to remain barefoot on the ground.

Transitioning to Barefooting

The process of transitioning a horse from a shod lifestyle to a barefoot existence is time-consuming and requires specific attention. Even after a lengthy period of time spent wearing horseshoes, the hoof soles become extremely sensitive since they have not grown a callous.

Depending on the state of the horse, it might take weeks, months, or even a year or more for the horse to become accustomed to being barefoot. Horses can be protected from their foot bottoms by wearing hoof boots throughout the transition phase.

Trimming Barefoot Horses’ Hooves

Horses who do not wear shoes nevertheless require regular hoof treatment, which includes cutting the hooves. The type of trimming, on the other hand, is distinct from the typical procedure. In terms of hoof care and upkeep, it is a more natural method. In order to replicate the way wild horses wear down their hooves, the barefoot trim is used. The following are the several types of barefoot trim:

  • In order for the frogs, bars, and sole to support the horse’s feet while it goes over uneven ground, the natural trim is intended to maintain the hoof wall in contact with the ground at the back of the foot. The 4-Point trim is a trim that has four points. An old-fashioned form of trim that can be found on shod horses as well
  • A trim called the Pete Ramey trim, which is identical to the natural trim but that the hoof wall is eliminated, forcing the horse to walk on the bottoms of his or her hooves
  • This approach is the most contentious since it seeks to enlarge the frog by scooping away the horse’s sole and bars
  • Nonetheless, it is the most effective.


Because of the abnormal conditions in which we maintain domestic horses, they require a great deal of attention and upkeep. For their part, wild horses do not need to maintain their hooves due to the nature of their existence. Wild horses Wild horses travel long distances and run fast across rugged terrain every day, putting up a lot of effort. This naturally wears down their hooves, keeping them from overgrowing, fracturing, or breaking as a result of overgrowth. The fact that domestic horses are often maintained in meadows and stables means that their hooves are not subjected to as much abrasion from the surfaces on which they walk or run.

  1. Horses with foot problems in the wild are unable to keep up with their herd or flee from predators, and as a result, they do not survive and do not pass on their genes for weak feet to their offspring.
  2. Comparatively speaking to wild horses, horses that are employed for riding or working bear unusually large burdens, which increases the pressure and stress placed on the feet and hooves of the horses.
  3. In addition to being shod, domesticated horses require regular hoof care in order to keep them in good condition and to keep their feet healthy.
  4. In recent years, there has been a rising push toward more natural techniques to hoof management, such as maintaining horses without shoes.


Submitted by: Anonymous Actually, the question of whether domestic horses require shoes is being disputed. Wild horses amble vast miles every day, generally across uneven grassland, which eventually hardens their feet as a result of their regular activities. Domestic horses typically have weaker feet as a result of infrequent exercise, which is frequently performed on softer, wetter terrain, and is sometimes compounded by an imbalanced diet, according to the ASPCA. Horseshoes can protect particularly weak hooves from wearing out and splitting in horses who are scheduled to ride on rough surfaces for long periods of time.

Despite the fact that no published research have revealed that donkey feet are tougher than horses’, computer analysis reveals that donkeys’ internal foot stress is less than that of horses’ when they walk.

Even yet, improper home surroundings and diets can still cause donkey hooves to become weak and deformed. As a result, certain donkeys who are subjected to long, rigorous rides on hard surfaces may require shoes as well. More information may be found at:

  • What causes dogs and horses to go insane when the wind blows? What is the reason for horses not having toes?

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for intriguing new Q As every month, and follow@sciencefocusQAon Twitter for a daily dose of interesting science facts and information.

How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves? (Video Explained)

The hooves of a horse that are not properly trimmed might create a range of difficulties. Horses’ hooves must be trimmed on a regular basis, much like a person’s toenails, in order to avoid issues. When it comes to domesticated horses, the task is performed by professional farriers since an unskilled person might cause serious injury to the horse if the hooves are not properly trimmed. Wild horses outnumber those kept on ranches and farms, and I imagine that those horses aren’t lined up every few weeks at the local spa to get their toes done.

What Are Hooves?

A hoofed animal is a type of animal that has a large nail-like case covering its toes and is distinguished from other types of animals. They are herbivorous and like wide-open environments such as grasslands and prairies, which may be found in areas such as the wild west. Horses are odd-toed hoofed mammals because each of their legs is supported by a single hoof, and the four hooves on a horse’s feet are important to the horse’s ability to survive. As a result, hooves are far more intricate than they appear on the surface.

But I can image the tremendous sound of a large number of animals racing in the same direction as a result of anything that either delighted or terrified them.

Furthermore, because horses have longer lower limbs than other mammals, they are able to traverse greater distances with each step than most other animals.

Horses can conserve energy when running because they employ fewer muscles than humans.

All About The Hoof

We may gain a better understanding of the hoof’s complicated nature by examining its external structure, its underside, and its internal framework. We may become severely disabled if we do not take proper care of our feet, which is why horse owners must pay particular attention to the feet of their equine companions. As a result, let’s take a short look at the anatomy of the hoof:

1. Outer Structure

When gazing at a horse’s foot from above, the outer wall of the hoof is the most noticeable aspect of the animal. In a similar manner to how a human toenail protects the top of our toes, the toe’s hard covering provides support for the more sensitive interior sections of the toe. The horse’s outer wall helps it to resist the bulk of the shock and pressure that it is subjected to while it travels around. As a result, healthy hooves should not have any cracks or rings in their exterior structure; otherwise, the interior portions of the hoof may be vulnerable to injury.

In order for the outer wall to remain healthy and expand, this band must be present.

The periople is essentially fresh growth, whilst the inner wall is a more flexible layer that acts as a component of the horse’s foot that bears the weight of the animal.

Any horse owner who notices any damage to the outer structure of his or her horse’s hooves should contact his or her veterinarian right once, regardless of the circumstances.

2. The Underside

Generally speaking, there are four major sections on the bottom of a horse foot. The sole is formed of the same keratin material as the outer wall, and it is the first layer to be reached. In addition to protecting the most complicated elements of the hooves’ bottom, its concave structure also works as a shock absorber and helps to protect the bulk of the sole when it comes into contact with the ground. The frog is the next component, which is a very sensitive V-shaped structure that extends downward from the heel.

A farrier with specialized training will visually evaluate these interior parts to assess if they are structurally sound and in good condition.

3. Inner Framework

The movement of a horse is a mechanical marvel, with several components that all work together to create a smooth motion. Consider the internal structure of a hoof, which is composed of three separate elements: a cushion and two bone segments. What is the function of the digital cushion? I’m confident that you can guess what it is. If you claimed that it had a cushioning effect, you are entirely accurate in your assumption. The coffin bone refers to the bone that is really included within the hoof’s structure.

The navicular is the other bone that I feel is important to highlight.


Hooves are much more than just a set of overgrown toenails on a horse’s foot. A horse would not be able to function as a horse if it did not have hooves. As a result of their design and purpose, domesticated horses require human involvement in order to be maintained on a regular basis and to be healthy.

I Need A Pedicure!

When it comes to their toes or hooves, people and domesticated horses may make appointments with their favourite technician or farrier; nevertheless, wild horses are not lining up with appointment slips in hand. In addition, because domesticated horses are most likely not moving about enough to promote the natural filing down of their hooves that wild horses go through, they require additional treatment. If a horse’s hooves become imbalanced or compromised by a foreign item or debris, the horse’s mobility and body structure will begin to deteriorate.

Perhaps the reason why wild horses aren’t relaxing at the local spa is that they are completely unaware of the necessity for farriers.

A wild horse’s daily distance traveled is often several kilometers over a variety of terrain.

Horses can wear down their hooves at a pace that is comparable to their development because of their continual mobility. As a result, the hooves of a wild horse will never grow to an excessively enormous size.

Further Hoof Care Discussion

Wild horses’ foot length is perfectly maintained by Mother Nature, who does an excellent job of it. A number of additional factors must be taken into account when comparing the health of a wild horse’s hoofs to that of a domesticated horse. Unlike domestic horses, wild horses are free to wander around and do not have to remain still in damp or moist areas. Allow us to state unequivocally that excessive wetness causes infection and can do significant harm to a horse’s feet. It is possible that human nature and people’s repurposing of animals would cause animals to develop health and wellness difficulties that they would not otherwise confront in the wild.

  1. The fact remains that horses do not travel on hard surfaces such as cement or blacktop in the wilderness.
  2. Furthermore, horses in the wild do not pull big loads for working reasons, whether they are used for farming or any other type of entrepreneurial labor.
  3. The most essential thing to remember about horses is that they require their feet.
  4. Examples include “cankers,” “bruised sole,” “abscesses,” and fissures in the hoof wall caused by inadequately managed hooves, according to the ASPCA.
  5. Furthermore, if an infection takes hold, a horse may become lame as well.
  6. However, a thorough examination of its hooves may be able to avert a severe situation in which a veterinarian or expert would be required.


If you are a horse owner, there is a good probability that you and your horse’s farrier are great friends. This individual comes out to your horse’s paddock and stable on a regular basis to check and trim the hooves of your horse. Horse foot care and trimming is a delicate process that should only be performed by someone who has a thorough understanding of the anatomy and function of the horse’s hoofing system, both in theory and in practice. Wild horses, on the other hand, are in the hands of Mother Nature, who is the ultimate authority.

Share your thoughts, questions, and worries regarding how important it is to trim a horse’s hooves in the comment area below. Thanks!

How Do Wild Horses Maintain Their Hooves?

We’ve all heard the expression “no foot, no horse.” As a result, we understand how critical it is to properly care for our horse’s feet. Our routine cleaning, trimming, and shoeing ensures that they remain healthy and comfortable. However, we are concerned about horses in the wild that do not have access to our assistance in caring for their hooves. How do wild horses keep their hooves in good condition? Wild horses keep their hooves in good condition by traveling vast distances, 20 to 40 miles (30 to 60 kilometers) each day, through tough terrain.

Furthermore, natural selection only allows for the survival of the fittest individuals.

While our domestic horses are often born with strong hooves, this is not always the case because they are developed for other characteristics and do not have access to the same environment as wild horses, which includes difficult terrains and the ability to wander large distances.

Wild Horse’s Hooves Are Different From Domestic Horse’s Hooves

Many people who advocate for natural ways frequently draw comparisons between domestic horses and wild horses. As an example, in the case of hooves, they would argue that “since wild horses don’t require shoes, then domestic horses shouldn’t too.” However, it is important to recognize that there is a distinction between the hooves of wild horses and those of domestic horses. Wild horses live in a different habitat than domestic horses, and natural selection results in a genetically distinct foot from that produced by human selection.

Wild Horses’ Natural Selection

Throughout history, the horse’s foot has developed to better suit its surroundings, allowing horses to thrive more readily in the environments where they once roamed the earth. Horses who do better in the wild because of their better-adapted hooves will pass on their genes to their descendants. As a result of this process, the horse’s hooves gradually alter over the course of time. Horses evolved huge flat feet in wet, muddy environments, but in tough terrain, they developed tiny firm hooves to cope with the conditions.

Domestic Horses’ Human Selection

In most cases, when humans breed horses, they are not concerned with the horses’ survival in the wild. The most generally desired characteristics are conformation and performance ability in a variety of sporting activities. As a result, the characteristics that offer horses an edge in the wild are not at the top of the priority list for breeders. Over the course of human history, man has tampered with horses via selective breeding and training. Human impact may be detected in the hoof structure, which has the following characteristics:

  • Draft horses, such as the Clydesdale, were developed to have enormous, hard-wearing feet, which were essential for pulling heavy loads. Clydesdales were the most popular breed of draft horse. Due to the belief that small, delicate hooves were a desirable conformational attribute, quarter horses were bred to have small, delicate feet. As a result, health problems such as navicular disease arise. Long hooves are favored in show horse breeds because they allow for high, flamboyant gaits to be performed.

An investigation conducted in different nations to examine whether or not foot abnormalities were taken into consideration while selecting stallions for breeding produced the blow graph (source).

Wild Horses’ Natural Environment

When it comes to the formation and maintenance of wild horses’ hooves, the environment in which they reside plays a vital role. Horses’ hooves are shaped mostly by the type of ground on which they walk and the distance they must travel in order to reach their destination. Distinct habitats create different types of hoof, each of which has its own set of health issues.

Hard Ground

In hard ground situations, it appears that there is a delicate balance between the wear and development of the hoof wall. Sohoof walls are short and rounded, and they’re generally worn down to the sole’s edge on the outside. This rounded edge is referred to as a “mustang roll” in the industry. It shortens the breakover period, reducing the amount of tension placed on the tendons and ligaments. It also helps to keep the hoof wall from peeling and cracking.

Soft Ground

In soft ground situations, the development rate of the hoof wall outpaces the rate of wear of the hoof wall. The walls of a soho house are long and flared. An exposed flared hoof wall will chip, produce microscopic fissures, and eventually fall apart in the wild. It is necessary to trim the hoofs of domestic horses who do not move sufficiently to wear away the soles of their feet. Flares are excruciatingly unpleasant. The horse’s foot is similar in appearance to our fingernails. Flaring has the same sensation as if our fingernails were being yanked out.

Wild Horse’s Hooves can also have problems

However, contrary to popular belief, wild horses’ hooves do suffer health problems, as can be shown in this video. Several studies have been conducted (Brian Hampson, 2011). The impacts of the environment on the feral horse foot.) have discovered that, despite the fact that horses living on hard surfaces appear to have strong feet, they are susceptible to traumatic laminitis and concussive disorders that are linked with this environment. Although they are susceptible to foot health difficulties, they are able to resist them without becoming lame, which allows the horse to live in harsh situations.

Domestic Horses’ Artificial Environment

Our domestic horses often have weaker feet than wild horses because they are primarily confined to stables or tiny paddocks with softer and wetter terrain, which restricts their ability to roam freely in the wild. Domestic horses are unable to wear their hooves down as a result of the environment and lifestyle they live in. This is why they must have their hooves trimmed by a farrier on a regular basis. In addition, because they have weak hooves, they are unable to survive long distances on difficult terrain or rigorous activity, which is why they must be shoed to prevent injury.

What Happens If Horse’s Hooves Are Not Trimmed?

Hoof overgrowth will develop if the horse’s hooves are not properly clipped. This will have an impact on the horse in ways that most people are not aware of. Hoof problems such as cracked or constricted hooves, thrushy frog, chalky sole, fractured quarters, demineralized coffin bone, inflamed joints, distorted bones, torn tendons and ligaments, muscular soreness throughout the body, and more can result from it.

The following are some of the issues that might arise as a result of enlarged hooves:

Within The Hoof

  • While a lengthy hoof wall will take on the weight-bearing job, the sole and frog will lose their function, which will diminish the horse’s ability to contract and expand his foot as he walks. Hooves that have contracted as a result of inappropriate foot loading
  • The frog gets thrushy, feeble, and overgrown as a result of this. The sole becomes chalky and black, and it is no longer able to exfoliate
  • In an attempt to get the frog back on the ground, the quarters grow thin and frail, and they shatter. At some point, thetoe will chip, fracture, and break away.

Beyond The Hoof

  • A process of demineralization and remodeling of the coffin bone With oversized hooves, the horse is compelled to walk in an unusual manner in order to prevent pain, and as a result, the joints get inflamed, resulting in arthritis and bone remodeling in the horse. Additionally, the ligaments and tendons are stretched. Having difficulty walking, the horse is prone to standing or lying down for extended periods of time, which causes stiffness and weakness in the tendons and ligaments. Horses attempt to move in unusual ways in order to minimize the pain, putting more strain on the muscles in the shoulders, hips, and back as a result. Eventually, pain affects the entire body.

A typical concern among rescue horses, particularly those who have been neglected for an extended length of time, is overgrown hooves. This article discusses an extreme situation.

Does a Hoof Trim Hurt The Horse?

Because the hoof wall is insensitive, trimming the hoof does not cause any discomfort to the horse. It is composed of a strong protein known as keratin, and it is a dead tissue that has no blood or nerve supply to support it. It is the same substance that is found in our fingernails, which are also composed of keratin. When we trim our fingernails, we do not feel any discomfort. In the case of the horse’s hoof wall, the same thing occurs. A foot trim, on the other hand, can be painful for the horse if it is not done correctly.

If the hoof is not properly trimmed, it will gradually deform and become subjected to abnormal pressure, which will result in foot issues.

Flaring, chipping, contracted heels, underrun heels, digital cushion and frog atrophy, inflamed joints, strained ligaments, bone remodeling, and finally discomfort throughout the entire body are examples of hoof issues that can occur as a result of inappropriate trimming.

Why wild Horses Don’t Need Shoes

Horses in the wild will wander for several hours every day, through rugged terrain, in search of grass, and they will do so for long periods of time. As a result of the frequent movement on hard surfaces, the hooves become robust and healthy. Because of this, wild horses do not require shoes to protect their hooves from injury. This is analogous to human foot calluses, which are thicker areas of skin that occur naturally when people walk barefoot on hard surfaces. Foot calluses were created as a result of evolution to protect the feet from injury.

Humans, like horses, went barefoot for the majority of their evolutionary history:

  • A total of 8000 years have passed since humans first put on shoes. Known as “hipposandals,” the earliest known examples of horseshoes date back to 2500 years ago.

Why Domestic horses need Shoes

The invention of horseshoes was a result of the horse’s domestication, and they were designed to protect the horse’s hooves from damage caused by the excessive burden humans place on horses, such as walking for hundreds of miles, bearing the rider’s weight, and pulling heavy wagons, among other things. Then, with the advent of equestrian games, it became vital to have horseshoes on hand as well. Horseshoes, for example, allow the horse to move faster while also protecting the hoof from fracture.

Another reason why wild horses do not require shoes is because of their natural footing. Domestic horses, on the other hand, that are kept in the pasture and do not perform rigorous work do not require shoes.


This is an article from Nativehoof.com. The following is a summary of the breeding aims for warmblood sport horses An essay from the website American Equus. According to a new study, barefoot walking causes calluses on your feet that are even better for your feet than shoes.

Suggested Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.