Good walls

Healthy hooves

A good hoof wall comes in any colour. Any deviation from white is pigmentation. White hooves are equally as strong as black ones. The only benefit of a white area of hoof wall is that you will see any bruising more easily.  
a. Smooth to the touch.
b. No ripples running horizontally around the hoof capsule.
c. Free from fungal infections, cracks, splits, chips.
d. Free from bulges, lumps, holes, bruises

When viewed from the side a hoof wall should be straight from top to bottom. If a rasp was held against it then ideally there would be no gaps between the wall and the rasp..
e. No deviation in angle when viewed from the side or from the front.
f. Hairline viewed from side should look like it flows at a gradual sloping angle with no bulges
g. Short toe.

At ground level a wall should have a beveled roll. from this level you can see that there are two parts to a hoof wall - inner wall and outer wall, about a 50/50 split. Where they meet is termed the water line
h. No separation in the wall, no dirt packed into the wall.
i. Free flowing roll from heel to toe.
j. Around half the wall will not have contact with the ground when stood on a flat surface.

Good frogs


Frogs are developed over time and compact frog material into the outer layer to produce a tough leathery protective skin. They will occasionally shed out to leave a new immature frog underneath - the process of callousing off then starts again.
a. Firm to the touch on the outside
b. Wide at the back, flowing into a point - or apex of the frog.
c. Should cover at least 2/3 of length from back to front. Central sulcus - middle of frog towards the back should be recessed, almost like a thumb print. Free from any fissures.
e. Free from infection of any kind. No black/grey mush ! or foul odor
You should be able to squeeze any part very firmly with very little response from the horse. Frog health is extremely important and any deviations from a healthy frog will impact comfort and performance.

Good soles


Sole material lays down and compacts into calloused sole with time and mileage. Sole should cover every structure underneath it with a thick layer of hard calloused material.
Picture I demonstrates just one method of how to assess a good sole.
a. Creates a flowing area of sole from around the frog to the white line.
b. No raised areas of sole around front half of frog.
c. Sounds dense when tapped with a hoof pick.
d. Free from, fungus, infection, bruising, fissures.
Soles can appear flatter following long dry periods, but when ground gets wet then this retained sole can start to wear away to leave the concave appearance again.
Reading the horses soles can show both positive/negative  changes in the hoof. Exfoliating sole can mean that a change in the horses life style / environment has been a success. An experienced hoof professional can assess what has changed for the better/worse. 

Good internal structure in the back of hoof

1 2
3 4

The back of the foot is easy to assess. Lots of milage is the best way to get this internal area hoof fit. It begins to develop from birth. The area called a digital cushion sits in the back half of the foot, above the frog, and should form a layer of thick fibro cartilage in the back of the hoof. Assess it by squeezing the area with fingers and thumb. The firmer and thicker it is, the better it will perform.


a. Firm when squeezed.
b. Horse should not react to firmly palpating by hand.
c. Horse will land heal first confidently, this is an indication the digital cushion is well developed and the horse is working efficiently.

Using these four steps will better the understanding of what it should feel like. The feeling in picture 2 is a superior digital cushion than the feeling in picture 4 

1. Make a tight fist
2. Palpate the thumb pad firmly
3. Hold hand relaxed
4. Palpate to feel an underdeveloped digital cushion that needs to get fit !

Good white line

The white line should form a seamless seal around the junction of sole to hoof wall. It is golden in colour.
a. Around 2mm thick from heal buttress to heel buttress with no deviations
b. No fissures, holes, infection, crumbly grey/black tissue.
Check periodically for large stones which should be picked out to prevent deeper penetration into the white line.

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