Internal Hoof Structure

The internal structures of the hoof are really important, but because we can't see them, we often don't think about them too often.  Go on - have a little think about them - and maybe even a little poke at them!  I double dog dare you!

The Questions


1. With the hoof weight bearing, press the dip between the 2 heel bulbs. Does it feel firm and elastic a little like the ball of you thumb when you make a fist? (This is the digital cushion.)

​2. Feel the lateral cartilages either side of the digital cushion. Are they smooth, flexible and firm?

​3. Are the lateral cartilages wrapped around the heel bulbs? (or can you push your finger underneath them)

4. Look at the underside of the hoof. Is the white line at the toe a clear yellow/goldish colour and strong/tight looking? (In a stretched white line you'll see black striations or it will be wider than 3mm)

5. Is the white line at the quarters a clear yellow/goldish colour and strong/tight looking? (In a stretched white line you'll see black striations or it will be wider than 3mm)

Do this check on each foot individually.

Tips


Sometimes to see the white line properly you need a freshly trimmed foot. It depends on the other structures of the hoof. You'll get to know your own horses hoof the more you look. If you're unsure, take a picture and send it to me.

The Scoring


For each 'NO' answer score 2 points. 

This will give you a score for each foot individually.

Take an average (add them all up and divide by 4 – hopefully!) to get an overall picture, but if you have 3 hooves scoring well and 1 hoof scoring poorly, then this suggests (or confirms) an imbalance in your horse.

If your score is 0:

If your score is 1-3:

If your score is 4-6:

If your score is 7-10:

Resources for this Health Check

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