When It Comes To Hooves, "Normal" Isn't "Natural"

Dynamics of equine locomotion and the foot

The modern horse is the result of millions of years of evolution. These large herbivores evolved on the plains of Asia and eastern Europe as a gregarious, migratory prey animal. Our only modern parallel to how this species may have existed in the natural world is the zebra of the African savanna with its similar physiology and anatomy.

Feet That Adapt

The feet of these two species share very similar qualities. Designed to spend the majority of their time on grassy plains and turf, the hooves of these animals are extremely adaptable and resilient. They adjust and remodel to suit extremes of climate, such as extended periods of drought and hard, dry terrain, as well as times of prolonged rain and wet ground conditions.

It has been noted that the hoof of the horse remodels itself to its environment. It contracts (somewhat), becoming harder to suit rocky, sandy and dry conditions, as well as expanding and softening to facilitate easier movement over wet ground.

Environmental Factors

The domestic horse may experience the entire spectrum of environmental conditions, ideally with the center as the norm. The feral horse of today exists mainly in the American West and the Australian Outback; areas of the world where regional topography and climate dictate that these animals live almost their entire lives at the extreme dry, hard end of the environmental spectrum.

It is therefore logical to conclude that the hooves of these horses are essentially remodeled to suit their habitat. These horses must also…

To view the full article, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all American Farriers Journal content and archives online.

Top Articles

Current Issue

Cover_AFJ_0718_pub.jpg

American Farriers Journal

American Farriers Journal is the “hands-on” magazine for professional farriers, equine veterinarians and horse care product and service buyers.
View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings