The Perfect Hoof
Pathology is the medical term for the study of the way a disease works. Hoof pathologies are when something has gone wrong with the equine foot, like laminitis, thrush, abscesses, flares, navicular or negative palmar angle. These are diseases or non-conformational issues.
What about club foot? Yes, there are instances whereby this is hereditary and some horses are born with an upright conformation. But more often than not, the hoof position is only a symptom of another problem, above the hoof, and the horse is simply trying to find balance where imbalance lies elsewhere.
So what makes a good hoof? What is the ideal shape? What is ‘normal’? A debate that has been raging for centuries. One article I was reading recently attempts to discuss the issue and outline the facts.
It starts by noting the difference between hoof anatomy and hoof conformation. While hoof conformation can be influenced by humans, hoof anatomy stays the same. However, both areas contribute to the overall strength of the hoof. What’s important is that the hoof conformation be allowed to carry out its function of absorbing, dissipating and transmitting its load.
The definition of normal may depend on the breed and discipline of the horse – a racing thoroughbred and a show Tennessee Walking horse will have different hooves. When looking at conformation, we must also consider the internal structures as the internal and external structures are inextricably linked in their biomechanical functions.
The basic shape of a hoof is that of a cone, allowing for a large area for force to be first applied and then efficient distribution of the load inside the hoof. This particular article continues to talk in great length about angles and lengths and sizes. It also answers some commonly asked questions, like ‘Are white hooves weaker than dark hooves?’ (no!), ‘what is normal hoof size?’ and ‘what influences a hoof’s growth rate?’. It does of course mention shod feed and while not indicating a preference between bare and shod, the key line I saw was ‘…the ability of the foot – both internally and externally – to adapt to its environment’. In my opinion, this reiterates the fact that horses can and will adapt; and Cavallo hoof boots are there for you, will provide protection when riding your domestic horse and will help your horse during any period of change or transition.
You can read more on this article here: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/15089/the-perfect-hoof.