Horse Hoof - Hooves in The Natural State

Hooves in The Natural State

Both wild and feral equid hooves have enormous strength and resilience, allowing any gait on any ground. A common example of the feral horse type is the Mustang. The Mustang is, in part, descended from the Iberian horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish, but most herds also have ancestry from other breeds. Therefore, the famous Mustang hoof strength is in part a result of natural selection and environment. Thus, it is proposed that other domestic breeds could develop similar hooves if raised under similar conditions.

The recent barefoot movement claims that such a strength can be almost completely restored to domesticated horses, when appropriate trimming and living conditions are applied, to such an extent that horseshoes are no longer necessary in almost any horse. If true, it would undermine the belief that "the horseshoe is a necessary evil."

The barefoot management system has not, however, gained a foothold among serious equine professionals, due to three factors: 1) increased strain placed on the hoof in sports, such as eventing and endurance riding, 2) the added weight of the rider and saddle, and 3) man-made surfaces, such as concrete,asphalt, and gravel, which can wear the walls down to the sensitive tissue over time.

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