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Proper Treatment of the Bare Hoof

Proper treatment of the bare hoof does not mean forcing it into a certain shape, but dressing it so as to allow the horse himself to gradually produce an optimal shape simply by its normal everyday usage. This is a process of "self-healing" through controlled horn abrasion.

As a rule, horses wear down their hooves unevenly. This may occur on the inside or outside hoof walls, in the toe or heel area or in any other part of the hoof, depending on the horse's individual constitution, outside conditions, and any given number of other relevant circumstances. If this one-sided horn abrasion is not corrected, the load will shift either onto one side of the hoof and/or onto the toes or heel of the hoof. This uneven load can easily be observed in the asymmetric hoof with differently slanted (long and later also high) side walls and different widths of hoof halves as seen from below. In these cases, the frog horn will also develop asymmetrically. If the load is on the toes, we will find narrow slanted hooves inclined to contraction, and if the load is on the heel, we will find hooves with an excessively pointed angle, a (backwards) broken pastern-toe axis and an inclination to sinking heels. Asymmetry of the horn capsule involves an asymmetric development of the coffin bone.

Hoof orthopaedics prevents this development by using an adjusted form of rasping to ensure even abrasion. If the horse is subject to uneven strain on its extremities, hoof orthopaedics corrects this in a way that enables the horse to literally "walk" its way out of an unhealthy situation. The basic concept here is to increase horn abrasion in less strained areas as well as using the counterpressure of the ground to shape the hoof. This allows the horse to utilise its own motion to restore its hoof balance.

In the light of hoof orthopaedics, the conventional way to even out slanted hooves by shortening them from below appears inappropriate. The immediate change in the mechanics of the horse's extremities ensueing from this conventional type of treatment exposes the hinged joints, tendons and ligaments to a great deal of strain. Apart from the danger of spontaneous injuries, this also leads to degenerative phenomena such as side bone, ringbone and spavin diseaseto mention but a few. In contrast to the conventional way of hoof treatment where often one side of the bearing wall is shortened from below, hoof orthopaedics does not change the position of the hoof and the horse's extremities are not subjected to abrupt changes in strain, thus sparing the horse the detrimental effects described above.