How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves?

Hoof care is a big responsibility for horse owners, and many wonder how horses in the wild are able to manage without regular visits from a farrier. In this article, we explore some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding hoof care for wild and domestic horses. So how do wild horses trim their hooves? Read on to learn more.

Hoof Care: Wild Horses Vs. Domestic Horses Q&A

do wild horses have hooves

1. Do wild horses have hooves?

This is an extremely strange question, but it’s apparently one that lots of people ask. The answer is, yes, of course they do. All equines, horses, donkeys, mules, zebras, etc. are hoofed animals.

2. How do horses hooves get trimmed in the wild?

In the wild, equines can keep their hooves in trim by running over rugged ground many miles a day. This results in even wear on the hooves that keeps them in good condition.

3. Why do wild horses not need shoes?

Domestic horses who work on punishing surfaces, such as concrete, need extra protection against hoof damage. Those with hoof conditions may need corrective shoes.

Wild horses who run over varied terrain at will usually have stronger, healthier hooves than domestic horses and seldom suffer hoof problems.

Domestic horses very seldom travel over the types of abrasive surfaces encountered by wild horses. They usually stay in fairly well-maintained pastures, paddocks and stalls, so their hooves do not have a chance to wear down.

4. Does it hurt horses to cut their hooves?

Hoof tissue is very similar to fingernail tissue. It does not hurt a horse anymore to have his hooves trimmed properly than it hurts you to have your fingernails trimmed properly.

Excessive trimming will cut into the “quick”, and this can be quite painful. It can also cause permanent damage. This is why it’s very important you find a farrier who is fully certified and comes highly recommended by your veterinarian and by other horse owners.

5. How often should a horse see the farrier?

Domestic horses, donkeys and mules need to have high quality hoof care on a regular basis. If you let your equines’ hooves grow too long, they will not just be ugly. Long, ragged, broking broken hooves cause damage to the inner workings of the animal’s hoof.

Additionally, poorly tended feet cause problems with the ligaments and tendons in the animal’s legs. Badly kept hooves lead to lameness.

Whether your horse wears shoes or not, it will need to have hoof care once every month to six weeks. The reason for this is that horses in captivity cannot wear their hooves down the way that wild horses can.

6. Why do shod horses need regular trims?

Horses who wear shoes do not encounter any wear to their hooves at all. The shoes protect the hooves and also prevent wear. For this reason a shod horse must see the farrier on a monthly or every six week basis to have the shoes removed, the hooves trimmed and new shoes put in place.

7. Do all domestic horses need shoes?

Horses who are only ridden lightly do not need shoes. In fact, even some working horses can do well without being shod. A horse that is regularly ridden on pavement or concrete can do quite well using hoof boots, and these days, good hoof boots are actually preferable to metal shoes.

Like a good set of athletic shoes, hoof boots allow your horse to walk on potentially damaging surfaces without damage and to enjoy going barefoot when not at work.

8. Is it easy to switch from metal horseshoes to hoof boots?

If your horse is currently wearing metal shoes, talk with your farrier about transitioning to barefoot and the use of hoof boots. This is not a transition that you’ll want to make quickly.

A barefoot trim is slightly different from the trim needed for shod horses. Your farrier will want to make adjustments gradually, and your horse will need time to get used to hoof boots if you choose to use them.

9. What if my horse seems to wear his own hooves down?

Horses who don’t wear shoes still need to have their hooves trimmed on a regular basis. If you only ride your horse in open pasture, he or she will need more frequent trimming. Horses that are ridden on more abrasive surfaces may need less frequent trimming.

In any case, you should never allow more than six weeks to pass without having your horses hooves trimmed. Even if the hooves seem to be worn correctly, your farrier should check and make adjustments as needed.

10. What if I can’t get a farrier appointment?

Good farriers are always busy, so the best way to make sure that your horse gets regular trims and new shoes on a regular basis is set up a standing appointment with your farrier.

Knowing that you expect your farrier to come on a regular, monthly basis you focused on good hoof care. Additionally, if your farrier sees your horse every month, he or she will know what is normal and will be able to detect anything unusual right away.



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