Horses that roam free in the wild, be they American mustangs, Australian brumbies, or horses from other feral herds, differ from their domestic counterparts in that they receive no food, water, veterinary care, or hoof care from humans. To determine what effect feral horses’ natural environments have on hoof type and predisposition toward developing laminitis, Brian Hampson, PhD, of the Australian Brumby Research Unit at the University of Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science, tracked brumbies and evaluated their feet visually and radiographically (via X ray). He presented his findings at the 6th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held Oct. 28-31 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Hoof from Sandy Desert

This horse frequented sandy deserts…

Hoof from Rocky Desert

While this horse frequented rocky deserts.

Hampson and colleagues caught and placed GPS tracking devices on 35 brumbies from six Australian study areas characterized by different environmental conditions (e.g., water sources, food, footing). After tracking the horses’ travel patterns for periods of six weeks to six months, the team caught the