Hoof Wall

The hoof wall is the one area where traditional farriers and natural hoof care practitioners go down different roads. Because of the lack of movement over varied terrain and or the lack of proper trimming, most domesticated hooves grow too long.

The hoof wall has long been seen by traditional farriers as the primary weight bearing component of the hoof. In order to do this farriers have left the hoof wall long and flat at ground level. This creates pathologies such as flaring, cracking, white line separation, and under run heels to name a few.

We in the natural hoof care world do not see the hoof wall’s primary purpose as weight bearing. Don’t get me wrong it does bear some weight, but that is not it’s only or most important job.

At Delaware Natural Hoof Care, we feel one of the hoof wall’s primary jobs is to act as a protective shell. Evolution made the outer hoof wall hard and rigid to guard the softer inner structures from damage while the horse moves across uneven terrain that at times contains stone, rock, and wood. The hoof wall is also made to contain the inner structures from expanding too much and helps with contraction when the foot is lifted off the ground, helping push blood back out of the foot and up the leg.

Where the hoof wall meets the ground we apply a mustang roll. This roll was discovered on wild and feral horses and has become an invaluable tool in getting our horses back to bare foot without some of the issues we find when a flat trim is applied to the hoof. The lack of the mustang roll trimming technique is one of the primary reasons some owners believe their horses can’t go barefoot because their horse feet get all cracked and split up. This roll or bevel as some call it causes the inner hoof wall to be the actual weight bearing part of the hoof wall. The inner hoof wall is much more pliable and less likely to crack under vertical pressure. The application of the mustang roll then keeps the outer hoof wall from being forced to carry too much weight and causing it to crack. The outer hoof wall alone is too hard and brittle to carry the weight of the horse.

The mustang roll also helps keep the directional forces of ground impact going in to the center of the hoof where the flat or pasture trim lets the pressure from the ground push outward causing flaring, cracking and white line separation (see diagrams below and take note of red arrows). I don’t believe in thinning the hoof wall with heavy rasping. The hoof wall is there to protect and contain the inner structures and leaves no room for thinning this area. If you see a hoof that is lighter in color near the bottom third than the rest of the hoof, it has been severely thinned. This is usually done to help address flares. See article on flares.

Diagrams courtesy of www.all-natural-horse-care.com
Diagrams courtesy of www.jmedesign. co.uk

Comments are closed.