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The hoof is the structurally and biomechanically complex designed and highly specialized digital end organ of the equids (König et al., 2015).
It is defined as the modified strongly cornified skin covering the end of the distal extremity of the limb and all interior structures enclosed and protected by this capsule: bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, bursae, vessels and nerves (Budras et al., 1991; Salomon et al., 2015).
The hoof is the biomechanical interface between a horse and its environment (Hood et al., 2001; Gustås et al., 2006; Johnston et al, 2006). It is of crucial functional importance for the horse’s locomotion and performance (Thompson et al., 1993; Moyer et al., 1996; Lange et al., 2012).
During evolution, the limbs of the equids and the hoof, as we find it in our present domestic horses, have been consequently modified for fast expansive locomotion (Biewener, 1983; Wilson et al., 2001; Patel, 2010). As a highly specialized and biomechanically challenged organ, on the one hand, the hoof has an extensive adaptation capacity (Hood et al., 2001; Florence et al., 2006; Decurnex et al., 2009; Clayton et al., 2011; Dyson et al., 2011); on…