Is there a difference between being 'barefoot' and having 'no shoes' ? Can the trim affect the form and function of the bare hoof? Can the shape and function of the foot affect posture, stance and to some degree conformation?
Rest assured it can and does – in fact, it affects much more than that!
The condition, overall shape and function of your horse’s feet influence not only his posture, stance, attitude, personality and movement, but also his functional health including circulation, lymph function, digestion, muscle development and mental health.
We will even go so far to say that foot form and function have a great influence on your horse’s temperament and behaviour and ability to regulate temperatures. These things should all be considered when using the term sound. The term sound includes -- physical, emotional and mental health.
The skeletal system provides the frame work for the horse but it is the stay apparatus which ‘suspends’ and ‘supports.’ The horse needs very minimal muscle, tendon and ligament action when the stay apparatus can be employed without any undue stress. When the system is in balance...little exertion is needed to stand.
Many muscles, ligaments and tendons cooperate in engaging the stay apparatus, especially the suspensory ligaments, the flexor tendons and their check ligaments. It’s like a series of elastic bands that pull in perfect counterbalance to suspend the horses big body like the strings suspend a marionette. Trim matters, not just the fact the horse has bare feet or not. Posture and stance can sometimes be corrected with 1 balancing trim. In other cases it can take several months of healing and rehab.
Front and hind feet have significantly different shapes, which develop after birth, adapting to environmental influences to accommodate their differing purposes in weight distribution and locomotion.
The fronts should be quite round (or even somewhat ‘triangular’ in shape with the rear of the foot being the widest) and very symmetrical in appearance. The symmetrical shape of front hooves provides proper weight bearing, shock absorption and dissipates concussion upon landing.
The hinds have more of a “spade” shape -- they are the basis for proper locomotion. The inner (medial) portion of the hind foot should be slightly narrower than the outer (lateral) portion. The horse uses the steeper medial wall for digging into the ground, gaining traction during takeoffs or on difficult footing. The wide lateral portion of the hind foot aids the horse during collection.
The trim affects posture and stance as seen by the above before and after trim. Look at how the leg aligns differently . Think about how this subtle change affects the muscles, tendons and ligaments above it.
Pay attention to the way your horse lands and uses his body in motion and in rest! It can reveal things going off track before a complete derailment.
Go Beyond Barefoot. It's more than just a trim, although the subtle art of the trim can make amazing supportive changes right off the bat!
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