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Wild Horse Hooves are not the Gold Standard

When I first started learning about hoof trimming, wild horse hooves were held up as the gold standard.

We were being shown specimens like this.

Perfect hooves naturally, right?

I flew to Alice Springs to look at live and cadaver specimens, and this is what wild hooves actually look like.

 Contracted heels.

 Overlaid bars.

This is the sort of ground they were travelling on most of the time. 

Cow hocked - corresponding flare in the lateral quarters.

These ones are a mess! But we still rode for six to eight hours on them each day.

On the off-side the wall has broken off more to the hydrated part of the wall.

Here are hooves I took from cadavers.


Not perfect hooves by our standards. You're probably thinking, 'there's some hooves overdue for a trim by about three weeks.'

Really, what we want our domestic horses' barefoot hooves to look like is the idealised version of how we think wild horses hooves are - the best qualities of them as an aggregate - rather than the reality of how they are.

What struck me more than that was the soundness of the horses, irrespective of the imbalances in the hooves. In other words, it's not actually about what they look like. Soundness has little to do with aesthetics.

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