Monday, February 1, 2016

What Hoof Model do you use?

As a professional hoof care provider and teacher I see hundreds of post that fuel the debate over the use of the Wild Horse as a model for hoof care. Whether you are a farrier, trimmer, or horse owner emotions can run high, especially with all of the media play the wild horses are receiving as of late. 

Many hoof care professionals have looked to these wild horses to develop a model for trimming the domestic horse's hooves. 

Feral Abaco Barb
I too have explored the possibility of using the hooves of the wild horse as a model for the treatment of the domestic horse hoof. My research evolved into a study of environment and how the hooves of the wild horse developed as a result of breeding, diet and overall environment. But even before I went afield to work among feral horse, I had disqualified the feral horse hoof as a model, this because of the law of physics;  F = M x A.

Remember, I am discussing the development of a hoof model for the treatment methods of the domestic horse. What is a model? In the practice of Farriery or hoof care the model defines the foot, not simply the hoof. Indulge me while I offer an analogy; I really would love to own a Ferrari. Years ago there were kits to transform a Pontiac Fiero into a Ferrari look alike. With this kit I didn't need to know the mechanics of the Ferrari to build a car that looked like one. But, the reality is that it would not perform like one if I simply mimicked the way it looked. I know that this comparison is a bit simplistic and silly, but it does make a point.

Developing a model that must deal with the increased forces generated by domestication requires knowledge of the internal structures of the foot. That is where the definition Structure + Function = Performance comes into play. There are several theories on energymanagement and foot function that have helped in the development of a model for the practice of farriery. The feral hoof model however came out of the search for a model without the forethought of foot function within a domestic environment. As a result, those proponents of the natural trim model have been searching to find foot function theories to support its use in the treatment of the domestic horse for over twenty years. The more we learn about the equine foot and foot function the more we learn that its health is governed by a few steadfast laws, and one is F=M x A.