No Foot, No Horse (part two, assessing the hoof)

 (Fig.1) a straight and correct hoof wall. 

(Fig.1) a straight and correct hoof wall. 

Today we will take a look at some simple ways to evaluate whether your horse’s foot is in good shape and the reasons why it is important that it should be.

Firstly let us look at the hoof wall.

 (Fig.2) Hoof wall and pastern.

(Fig.2) Hoof wall and pastern.

When viewed from side on, the hoof wall should be straight with and the hoof-pastern axis (see part three) should be correct. See Fig 1.

When viewed from front on the sides of the hoof should be straight and free of flares etc. Further, the angle of the hoof wall should approximate the angle of the pastern. See Figs.2 and 3.

The hoof wall forms an important part of the shock absorbing structure of the leg. When the wall is straight, concussive forces are transmitted evenly throughout the hoof. Where there are ridges, dips, flares, etc. these forces can weaken or deform the hoof thus reducing its shock absorbing ability and placing undue strain on tendons, ligaments and bones. Unless corrected this will reduce the ability of your horse to perform at its best and shorten its working life.

  (FIG.3)  Hoof wall and pastern at same angle.

(FIG.3) Hoof wall and pastern at same angle.

Finally we will have a look at the underside of the hoof. Look at Fig.4.

 (Fig. 4) Hoof underside

(Fig. 4) Hoof underside

The really important thing here is that the end of the heel should correspond with the widest part of the frog. This allows the hoof to function to its maximum effect as a shock absorber and permits it to expand and contract normally thus assisting in blood flow.

On a side note, in a healthy foot the frog should be roughly 2/3rds the length of the entire foot.

Well that is all for now. Please read the next section for what i consider the most important part of assessing the foot…….the hoof-pastern axis.