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Barefoot
 By Valkyrie   •   25th Aug 2010   •   2,803 views   •   3 comments
Before I start, I would like to say I got most of this information from the September, 2010 issue number 616 of New Zealand Horse & Pony magazine. I do not wish to plagiarise, so here is my credit.

Healthy HoovesThere is an old belief heralded by many that leaving a horse free from domesticity would result in properly balanced and healthy hooves. In some cases that is true, but a recent study undertaken here in New Zealand has proved that it is not always up to the horse to have healthy hooves, but the environment.

New Zealand and Australian researchers followed the fortunes of a band of twenty Kaiamanawa feral horses. They used x-ray and digital photography to document their hooves and found almost all had foot abnormalities, even though they roamed free in the Desert Road area of the Waiouru Military Training Camp.

90% had dorsal hoof flare, 75% had contracted heels, 65% had thrush and 75% had defects such as wall chips and cracks. Also, three-quarters had a long toe and 80% were affected by chronic laminitis.

There were several reasons as to why the horses suffered from such bad feet:

1. Improved and non-native pasture species.
2. Water sources are almost always close to pasture, reducing the level of travel required. Their activity level is comparable to a domesticated horse.
3. Wetter, softer footing (whereas Mustangs most exist in drier climates and natural selection therefore weeds out hoof defects).

Healthy HoovesIt is believed that the hoof flare exists to make the foot wider for better footing on slushy grounding, whereas the laminitis is caused by an abundance of pasture after the deluge New Zealand receives non-stop every winter. I have actually seen the hoof flare effect in one of my own miniature horses, Beauty. The area where I live used to be a swamp, but pioneers dug canals and a lattice of ditches to drain it. In winter, so now, surface water covers everything and turns the ground to mush. Beauty is alot happier cavorting around in the wetter conditions than she is on the hard-baked ground of summer.

As for the cracks and chips, New Zealand weather has the tendency to stop and start. One day it may be pouring down with rain, and the next week gloriously sunny and dry. The effects of dryness, then wetness, then dryness again causes the hoof wall to become brittle and therefore crack easier. Such instances have also been found in sheep-dogs in the high country who must traverse many streams and windswept ridges in the course of a muster. The pads on their feet crack and become swollen and painful, putting them out of work.

This study has been published in the Australian Veterinary Journal.

**I own none of the images**
Horse News More In This Category:  Care and Grooming      Horse News More From This Author:  Valkyrie
Dark Star  
This is one of the reasons you should not interfere with wild horses if your not going to demesticate them. Those horses only got that way due to humans messing with the enviroment.
  Aug 25, 2010  •  1,948 views
 
Valkyrie   MOD 
DS: I don't know how much you know about my country, but it is obviously very little. New Zealand has areas, such as the Kaimanawa Ranges, that are almost completely untouched by civilisation. It isn't the fault of humans that New Zealand is so wet and rainy, or that the grass grows. The only human influence in that area is a military training camp and they have nothing to do with the horses.
  Aug 26, 2010  •  1,954 views
 
Clair L  
yeah its very sad. my uncle just bought a wild mustang from our prison and he wants me to ride him 4 4h and i keep putting it back and putting it back idk what im ganna do.
  Mar 16, 2011  •  1,980 views
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