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The horse barn: Caring for your horse's hooves.

The hoof hoof, horny epidermal casing at the end of the digits of an ungulate (hoofed) mammal. In the even-toed ungulates, such as swine, deer, and cattle, the hoof is cloven; in the odd-toed ungulates, such as the horse and the rhinoceros, it is solid.  is a vital part of the horse and a healthy hoof is essential to the well-being and usefulness of a horse. Trimming is necessary to prevent sand cracks and breaking off of the hoof wall, which often results in lameness. Trimming is also required to balance the hooves hooves  
A plural of hoof.


a plural of hoof

hooves hoof
 so a horse moves consistently and at its best. A horse that receives regular hoof care is potentially a safer horse to ride, both to the rider and the horse itself. They are less apt to slip, stumble or fall. Moreover, they are less likely to sustain injuries that would either put them out of service or require the services of a veterinarian veterinarian /vet·er·i·nar·i·an/ (vet?er-i-nar´e-an) a person trained and authorized to practice veterinary medicine and surgery; a doctor of veterinary medicine.


Horses should receive routine hoof care at intervals coming or happening with intervals between; now and then.

See also: Interval
 of four to eight weeks. Factors determining whether the horse should be shod shod  
Past tense and a past participle of shoe.


a past of shoe

Adj. 1.
 or just trimmed depend on the health of the hooves, the potential or anticipated use of the horse, any defects in gait or conformation con·for·ma·tion
One of the spatial arrangements of atoms in a molecule that can come about through free rotation of the atoms about a single chemical bond.
 and/or injuries or diseases plaguing the horse. Allowing the feet to accumulate an excessive growth of horn (wall) and/or continued use of the calk shoe (shoes with raised heels) may prevent the frog and elastic structures of the hoof from contacting the ground, thereby preventing the hooves from performing their proper functions. This can result in a contraction of the whole hoof, which can lead to disease problems in the hoof.

Regardless of whether the horse is being shod or trimmed, it is important to keep in mind that the feet should be trimmed in such a manner as to keep them in a condition as close as possible to that which nature intended. Trimming and selecting shoes should be consistent with the amount and class of work required of the animal, the environmental conditions and the surface upon which the horse will be used.

To shoe or not to shoe

If the horse is to be shod, the shoes selected should be determined by the primary use of the horse. To reduce fatigue and allow the most natural gait, a horse should be shod with the lightest shoe that will withstand the stress placed on it. Shoes come in a variety of designs or types that affect the amount of traction the horse will have. Common types of shoes are plates, rim shoes, and shoes with calks calks

see calkins.
 either at the toes, heels or both. Many horses used on turf or grass surfaces need more traction than plates can provide; that's why most horses used on grass or in speed events use some form of rim shoe. The most common types are the polo shoe, barrel racing Overview
Barrel Racing is a form of rodeo event that demands some of the most athletic horses and dedicated riders in order to be successful in terms of financial earnings.
 shoe, race training plates and the basic rim shoe.

Proper care of hooves is essential. Nothing is saved by using heavier shoes than necessary simply to get more wear out of them or by not trimming the feet as often as needed as needed prn. See prn order. . Hoof care is even more critical in young, growing horses. This care should begin on normal foals at approximately one month of age. As long as everything progresses normally, the foal foal

a junior horse from birth to one year. May be filly foal, colt foal.

foal ataxia
see enzootic equine incoordination.
 should be trimmed approximately every four weeks. The feet should be kept level and the edges of the wall rounded to prevent breaking. In the normal foal this will encourage correct bone growth in the hoof and limb. It is also important to keep flares from growing on one side of the hoof, which creates excessive stress on the bones that may lead to lameness and/or incorrect bone growth.

An old adage, "Shoeing is a necessary evil," has been prevalent throughout the horse-owning public for years. Though this old saying has been accepted at face value, closer scrutiny will reveal the error in this line of thought. Shoeing is not always necessary; nor is it always evil. Many factors determine if, why and how a horse should be shod. Some of the factors include: the intended use of the horse; the condition of the feet and legs Feet and Legs
See also anatomy; body, human; walking.


any invertebrate of the phylum that includes insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and myriapods with jointed legs.
; the tasks to be performed; the environment in which the horse is to perform; and the surface the horse will be working on.

Another frequently heard adage heard is "No feet, no horse." This is as true today as when the phrase was first coined. This logic also serves to support the idea that shoeing may not be all evil. It is not expected that all horse owners will or should shoe or trim their horse's feet. However, every horse owner should have a certain basic knowledge of hoof care and be able to evaluate the care given to their horse's hooves. It requires a basic working knowledge of the hoof and its care, to evaluate a farrier's work.

Hoof anatomy

The foot of the horse is truly a complex, very efficient and marvelous structure. It performs supporting, anti-concussion, circulatory circulatory /cir·cu·la·to·ry/ (ser´ku-lah-tor?e)
1. pertaining to circulation, particularly that of the blood.

2. containing blood.

 regulating and traction functions. The hoof is a highly specialized horny-shell which covers sensitive bones, nerves, blood vessels Blood vessels

Tubular channels for blood transport, of which there are three principal types: arteries, capillaries, and veins. Only the larger arteries and veins in the body bear distinct names.
 and tissues. The visible outer covering of the hoof, viewed with the hoof resting on the ground, is called the "wall." When the hoof is picked up, you can see the ground surface of the hoof consists of the wall, bars (an inward continuation of the outer wall), the sole (a concave Concave

Property that a curve is below a straight line connecting two end points. If the curve falls above the straight line, it is called convex.
 area beginning just inside the wall), and the frog (a V-shaped structure in the center of the hoof).

Each portion of the hoof has a specific function. The wall is designed to carry the bulk of the horse's weight as well as protect the underlying structures. The bars act as a brace to control expansion and contraction of the hoof. The sole covers softer tissues and is somewhat concave to provide traction and allow for expansion. And the frog aids in absorption concussion, circulation, expansion and regulating moisture in the hoof. If any of these outer structures are abused by excessive trimming, injury or infection, then normal function and soundness of the entire hoof is jeopardized.

Common sense, thoughtfulness and a good rapport between the horse owner and farrier farrier

a person skilled in the techniques of making, fitting and remodeling horseshoes, including hot and cold fitting, orthopedic shoeing.
 will help assure the horse is ready to perform when needed. The best farrier is one in whom you have confidence and is readily available when needed, and should be selected on his own merits. If you don't have much knowledge about the work of farriers, ask for recommendations in your area. Your horse must depend on you for proper care, and you have the obligation to provide for the horse's needs in the best possible manner.
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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