Day 4 activities for slt champ camp

When you think about it, it's a miracle that a 1200-pound horse stands on four hooves that are about 5 inches wide. Not only do they stand on them, they run, jump, play and perform on them for us, as well. As flight animals, a horse's ability to escape predators in the wild also depended on their feet.

The hoof is a very complex structure, made of several parts, all with their own function and purpose. It can be divided into three sections for learning purposes: outside, underside, and inside.

Start your fourth day of camp admiring the amazing power of the hoof!

horse hoof side view
horse sole view

No Foot, No Horse

  • 1. Outside - or what you see while the horse is standing:

    a. Hoof Wall: the part that nearly everyone considers the hoof is actually the hoof wall. It's the outer hard covering that covers the sensitive inner structures and supports the weight of the horse. Comparable to our fingernails, it doesn't have nerves or blood vessels, and continually grows at a rate of approximately a half inch per month - that's why a farrier has to trim a horse's hooves. A hoof can be black or white - and the myth that white feet are weaker has been proven untrue. Healthy hooves shouldn't have any cracks, depressions or rings, all of which can indicate a problem with the foot, or even with the overall health of the horse itself.

    b. Coronary Band: where the hoof meets the hair, and where the hoof grows from. Generally pale in color, it is durable, though it has a massive blood supply to enable quality growth, which also means injuries to this area tend to bleed a lot. Additionally, a wound to this area can permanently disfigure or disturb hoof growth.

    c. Periople: a thin covering on the area below the coronary band that helps protect the newly grown hoof wall until it has time to harden.

  • 2. Underside -what you see when you pick out a foot:

    a. Sole: similar to the hoof wall, it is a hard covering that protects the sensitive inner structures from the ground. The sole is prone to being worn more than the wall because it has more contact with the ground, though it isn't fully weight-bearing because it should be slightly concave.

    b. White Line: the area where the sole attaches to the inner hoof wall

    c. Frog: the tough and leathery V-shaped structure in the center of the hoof that starts from the heels. The frog protects the digital cushion, and helps the horse with traction and shock absorption, as well as promotes circulation within the foot. Filled with nerves, it also allows your horse to feel what he is standing or walking on.

    d. Central Sulcus: the grooves that run along each side of the frog. In a healthy foot, these are fairly wide and shallow. If the hoof is unhealthy, they may be narrow and deep, which makes the hoof prone to thrush or other infections.

    e. Bars: these extensions of the hoof wall turn in at the heel and run parallel partly along the frog. They serve to strengthen the heels and build the sole of the hoof.

  • 3. Inside - what you can't see:

    a. Coffin Bone: the bottom bone in the foot, located near the toe. Surrounded by tissues and blood vessels, the hoof wall mimics the shape of this bone. Sudden shoeing changes, puncture wounds or founder all can affect the coffin bone and can lead to lameness.

    b. Navicular Bone: this small bone is located just behind the coffin bone and works to stabilize it and allows for tilt across uneven ground.

    c. Digital Cushion: located below the coffin bone toward the heels of the foot, it is the main shock absorber in the hoof. Unhealthy hooves can have poor quality digital cushions, and they do not regenerate - making proper hoof care for young horses imperative.

  • Horse Hoof X-Ray

Now that you know the different parts of the hoof, you should have a new appreciation for a farrier! They have a vast amount of knowledge and real-world experience in keeping this crucial part of the horse sound and healthy. Your horse should see the farrier every 6-8 weeks, or as directed by your farrier for their individual needs.

Activity: horse hoof quiz



Learn more about hoof care from University of Minnesota: Learn Now

Watch an overview of hoof cleaning from American Quarter Horse Association: Watch Now

Read ten healthy hoof tips from Practical Horseman: Read Now

Learn about how horse hooves have evolved over time from The Florida Museum: Learn Now

Read about the impact of proper hoof angles from Michigan State University: Read Now

Look inside a horse hoof with an illustration from New Mexico State University: View Now

Learn how a farrier "reads" a horse hoof from Practical Horseman: Learn Now

Watch a video about laminitis, a common hoof ailment from World Horse Welfare: Watch Now

Find out how horses ended up with a single toe from Smithsonian Magazine: Learn Now

Check out this fun video of a jaw harpist making horse noises on Britain's Got Talent: Watch Now

Bonus! Try to recreate the sound of a horse galloping. Coconut shells are the go-to easy answer for making the clip clop sound, but who has coconut shells hanging around their house? Get creative and try different methods for making the classic clip clop sound.

Plus spend some time curled up with a great horse book! Check out our reading list ideas here

Have you visited our Kids Corner yet? Check out additional fun activities here

  • Published:
  • Updated: 7/17/2020: 10:16:26 AM ET
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