A lot of people when they first enter the horsey world don’t quite understand how important it is for regular hoof work to be done. The old saying ‘no hoof – no horse’ is still as true today as it ever was. So I though today I would explain how a horse’s foot worksand grows. The photo that I have attached here shows what is inside your horses hoof. So as you can see it probably isn’t what you thought! That’s right there are bones going right down in to the middle of the hoof! The horse’s hoof grows from the top down. So where you can see the hoof wall it grows from the coronet band (where the hair and hoof meet) down just like our fingernail would. As this gets longer and longer the horses hoof will start to change shape and cause the horse to become very long in the toe and low in the heel. When this happens your horses hoof will start to break away if they are bare foot and on harder types of ground. This is a normal process and how horses would basically trim their own hooves in the wild. However this is something that we can manage to ensure that they don’t have any harm done to their hooves. The other thing that can happen if the ground is soft is that their hoof will not wear down and they will become extremely long and overgrown. This is terribly painful for the horse! With either an overgrown or misaligned hoof you will have a change in the angle of the bones that are sitting inside the horse hoof and leg. This is uncomfortable and also painful for horses. Your horses bad behaviour or poor performance could be directly related to pain being caused by a hoof that is too long in the toe and low in the heel. So referring back to the picture you can see the sole. This also grows from the top but as you can see it is only very shallow and does not go too far in to the hoof. Sharp objects are able to penetrate the hoof and if this happens you should seek veterinary and farrier advice asap. A stone bruise occurs when your horse steps on something that has pressed on to the sole too hard and caused localised bruising in the soft tissue that you can see inside the hoof.Your horse will be mildly lame with a stone bruise. An abscess occurs when for one reason or another something aggravates the soft tissues on the inside of the hoof and causes an abscess to attempt to remove what ever is causing the aggravation. Your horse will be severely lame with an abscess. Think of when we get a splinter in our hand and if you left it then it would form a small abscess and burst out in order to get rid of it. And it is extremely sore to touch even though it is so small. So with all that said how do we keep on top of everything?? The best thing to do is to have a farrier attend your horses feet every 5 – 6 weeks to ensure that your horses hooves are not overgrown and causing them any discomfort. It is also a good idea to become familiar with your horse and their hooves so if you notice anything out of the norm then you can make arrangements asap to either your farrier or your vet to get things sorted out asap. Also making sure they have a balanced feed so that they have the right nutrients to be able to grow a strong hoof is essential. And lastly if your horse has brittle or soft feet then using a hoof conditioner is a great way to help them get healthier faster.
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