You’ve heard it so often, that it’s trite. But it’s true: “No hoof, no horse.”
Perhaps no area of the horse gets as much attention as his hooves. We clean them, we trim them, we cover them in ointments, and we reinforce them with shoes. They are the equine equivalent of fingernails, and they get just as much attention. But the fact is that something on the order of 70% of all conditions that make horses lame occur in the hoof; it’s an undeniably important structure.
Yet, because so much is – and can be – done to the hoof, it’s also a subject of an intense amount of discussion. Everyone is paying attention to the horse’s hoof, from owner, to farrier, to veterinarian, and everyone has an opinion about it, accordingly. So, it is perhaps inevitable that there are many different and diverging opinions on the “best” way to do anything for the hoof, be it routine care, and especially when it comes to trying to fix any of the myriad problems that can occur.
Still, basic hoof care shouldn’t be that complicated. In fact, the tools used to manipulate the hoof haven’t changed much in hundreds of years, nor have the devices used to assist it (horseshoes and such). Farriers still labor over anvils, in front of forges, although there are now numerous other ways to rebuild and attach things to the foot. By understanding a few basic principles, you can help assure that you’re doing the best you can to help keep your horse going sound.
One of the best resources for information about the horse’s foot is a website maintained by my friend, Dr. Steve O’Grady. Dr. O’Grady is an internationally known speaker, veterinarian, and farrier, who has done much to advance our knowledge of what we are doing when we manipulate the horse’s foot. While more and more information on the horse’s foot will appear as I build this site, it’s well worth your time to check out the various papers posted on his website, Northern Virginia Equine. To see them, CLICK HERE