Optimal Hoof Performance - Barefoot vs Shoes
Updated: May 23, 2019
In the wild, horses that are in a primarily rocky environment will have low heels. Out on the plains or soil environment the feet had higher heels. Why is this? This was discovered by a group of people from the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1990's that were studying the differences of the feral equine and the domestic equine. The heels on the foot mainly on rock or hard ground were worn down to the level of the frog height or slightly lower.The heels on the foot of the horses primarily residing on soft ground such as sod or sand had higher heels. Yet both groups of horses had very healthy hoofs with minimal lameness, so the one thing that both environments provide is "frog pressure!" The frog must have pressure in order to provide adequate blood circulation for a healthy hoof.
On hard ground the heels are worn off putting the frog completely on the ground. On soft ground the heels grow longer but sink into the dirt or sod until the frog takes the pressure, again both are functioning with frog pressure.
As horse owners, I believe it is of the upmost importance to have a good understanding of how the foot functions and the environment that it is in. A healthy frog is of a normal width and length. An abnormal or distorted frog will be narrow back by the heels and abnormally long in length. What does your horses feet look like? What is the environment that your horse lives in? By answering these 2 questions , you will be better armed to analyze your particular situation.
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