The Natural Foot

The Natural Hoof…Foot Facts
What makes a good foot? Most often people answer that there is no cracks, splits or chipping.
There is more to the foot than the hoof wall. The foot is a complex and ‘elastic’ ORGAN. This page simply states some foot facts.
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The Function of the foot for any horse is:
  • to be able to run from potential danger … traction
  • protection from outside forces, temperature regulation and shock absorption
  • to feel and assess the ground on which he travels
  • to assist the heart in pumping the blood out of the feet/legs,through movement.

 

 

 


parts

The Frog…large and compressed and covers a large area of the foot.
The Heel Bulbs….are wide and ‘bulbous’
The Wall….is thick and strong
The Sole….is concave, hard and has uniform smooth texture
The Bars…are straight and strong
The White Line…forms a ‘tight’ connection
The foot in the photo is from a sound high performance barefoot sporthorse…age 4.
dddddThese pictures show an undesirable, albeit common foot shape. High heels results in tipping the coffin bone, contraction, decreased movement, etc
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The normal healthy and functioning foot viewed from the side is a simple triangle shape as shown in the pictures above.

The underside of the normal foot is concave in shape (dome shape). This concave shape combined with the natural expansion and contraction that happens through movement, helps to produce a ‘self cleaning’ foot. This is inherent for traction on any terrain (similar to a suction cup).

There is also a noticeable toe callus in the area ‘spray painted white’ helping to protect the tip of the coffin bone. Having a callus makes sense too. I remember being young and developing my own callused feet.

The Normal healthy functioning foot when viewed from behind will show a very wide and low heel base. It will get wider on weight bearing. If you were to lift the foot up and put it down again, you would be able to visually see the heels widen upon weight bearing. The heel bulbs can move independently of each other when placed on the ground. An example would be uneven ground between the two heel bulbs and one would appear higher and one lower, reflecting the ground base.
This is the normal expansion of the natural foot and is necessary for proper function of the foot. The foot grows in a “bell” shape … it’s wider at the bottom than the top.
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There are differences in the normal shape of the front feet compared to the normal shape of the hind feet … see the picture above.
The normal front foot is virtually round and is symmetrical in shape with shallower concavity than the hinds. This shape is designed to support over 60% of the horses overall weight (in a head-down, grazing position) The two front feet should ideally mirror each other.
The normal hind foot is asymmetrical in shape with a little of a ‘pointy’ toe, and has a ‘deeper’ concavity. The inside of the hind foot is narrower when viewed from the bottom. Looking from the front (or back) the inside wall is slightly steeper than the outside wall. And finally the angle of the hind foot toe wall is always steeper than the front (on the same horse), thus making the hind feet reliable for surefooted locomotion (fast getaways). The two hind feet should mirror each other.
Many times the hinds are not shod when the fronts are. This is because the hind feet generally self maintain their shape better due to the locomotive properties they have when the horse is put into motion.
What are the Ingredients of a Healthy Natural Foot?
#1 LOTS AND LOTS OF MOVEMENT
If you think for a moment on how and where the horse evolved then it makes sense that his feet (and body) were intended to cover lots of ground on varied terrain. A wild horse could easily covers 10-15 miles per day.
By increasing movement on supportive barefoot ground, (including riding/driving) the natural foot is stimulated to respond with growth and an increase in overall durability and strength. (Much like our muscles will respond to exercise)
#2 BEFITTING HYGEINE
If a wild horse can cover 10-15 miles per day, it would be improbable for that horse to stand(for long periods) in his own excrement. So honoring this, we make sure that the horse is never standing in ‘slop’. This ‘slop’ will deteriorate the quality of hoof horn as well as be a contributor in promoting disease.
So basically, instead of cleaning stalls, we prefer to pick-a-poo (clean) our EQ systemregularly. Horse manure is well balanced in itself and decomposes quickly making enriched black soil (with no added bedding/urine).
#3 Frequent Maintenance of Normal Shape
A healthy normal and functioning foot is a fast growing entity. Unless you are covering over 10-15 miles per day… every day… you will have to support the natural shape by giving a periodic maintenance trim.
This maintenance trim is not like any other trim you have seen traditionally. We look at it more like a ‘pedicure’ than an actual trim.
If the horse has correct foot shape, the foot is functional and everything else in your horses life is right…ANYONE can learn to give the maintenance trim with time, study and patience.