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hoof health
To determine if your horse has hoof
flares run a straight edge from the coro-
nary band to the ground surface of the
foot and move this edge all the way
around the hoof. There should be no
space between the straight edge and the
hoof wall.
MECHANICAL CAUSES
Constant Shoeing: The wall of the
horse’s hoof was never meant to support
the horse’s entire body weight. When
the foot is on the ground and bearing
weight, the frog, bars and sole all com-
press to the ground and help support
the horse. This natural hoof function
is not possible if the horse is wearing
a shoe and moving on hard ground.
When a horse is shod and the horse is
walking on hard ground, the hoof wall
becomes the only part of the hoof that
supports the horse’s entire weight. If the
horse constantly wears shoes, over time
the coffin bone will have a tendency
to sink inside the hoof capsule and the
weakened wall will become more flared.
ewis
If your horse must be shod, remove his
om shoes for at least several months each
t.c
year so his hooves can recover from the
effec
or
time spent in shoes.
t
esy of Karina L
Aggressive trimming
our
may be necessary to
o c
.themirr Obesity: An overweight horse or a horse
w
w
treat hoof flares. P
hot
w
with a large body but small feet will
tend to have trouble with hoof flares
by Madalyn Ward, DVM
because of the excess weight that has to
be carried over such a small area. The
A Holistic Look
overtaxed laminae weaken and stretch,
causing flares. Dieting and increased
exercise are the obvious answers for the
overweight horse but the small-footed
at HOOF FLArES
horse will have to be managed with
greater care. If you have a small-footed
If your horse has hoof flares, consider the conditions
horse pay close attention to his diet and
be sure that hoof flares are trimmed off
that allow them to form, including mechanical causes,
at each trimming.
nutritional causes, and hoof wall infections Too Long Between Trims or Shoe-
ings: In the wild, hoof flares are nature’s
ith the barefoot movement wall to the coffin bone. horses in the way of breaking off excessive hoof wall.
W
becoming so popular, I see wild live on rocky soil and rarely have Without this mechanism the wild horse
more horses with improperly hoof flares because constant travel over would end up with extremely long flared
trimmed hooves, sometimes rough ground (up to 25 miles a day) hooves and would not be able to run
with serious side effects. I’ve seen many per- keeps the hoof worn off at the correct from predators. most domestic horses
formance horses with health and soundness length. most domesticated horses don’t don’t have a chance to wear their hooves
issues directly relating to hoof flares. live on such rocky soil; even so, there is down daily, a little at a time. Instead, the
no reason that, with proper trimming domesticated horse’s hooves grow flares,
hoof flares are caused by a weakening and management, they should suffer which then break off in large chunks.
of the attachments (laminae) of the hoof from hoof flares. This uneven wear makes it hard to shoe
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www.holistichorse.com holistic horse™ • February/march 2010 • Vol.16, Issue 65
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