There is an adage that is as old as the modern-day horse. It goes something like this: No foot, no horse. My late father, who could pick out a minute leg or foot unsoundness at a glance, used to lecture his young son about the importance of good feet and legs in a horse. “The feet and legs,” he would say, “are kind of like the foundation of a house. I don’t care how pretty or how nice that house is, if it doesn’t have a good foundation, it won’t stand. It’s the same with a horse. The feet and legs are the foundation. If you don’t have good feet and legs, that horse won’t hold up.”
Sound wisdom then, and it remains so today.
There is nothing more disconcerting and disappointing than to be all set to go on a trail ride or enter a competition and have to cancel because your horse is lame. In the racing and competitive worlds, an unsound horse might also translate into serious financial loss to the owner.
When the problem is within the foot itself, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. The reason is fundamental. An intricate and complicated host of tissues, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bones comprise the foot, and the whole package is sealed within a hard, horny shell–the hoof wall.
The foot serves a variety of valuable functions for the equine. It supports the horse’s weight, absorbs shock, provides traction, conducts moisture, and helps pump blood. In addition, it resists wear and has the capability of replenishing itself.
Just how nature has designed the foot and the way in which it functions is a complex and fascinating subject for discussion. The material t