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Proper hoof mechanism is a crucial component of the overall health of the horse. With every step the horse takes, blood is pumped back up the legs to the heart, which is vital in supporting the overall circulatory system. Proper hoof growth actually aids in protein excretion through the development of keratin and hoof horn. And a properly functioning foot provides ultimate shock absorption and impact dissipation through its flexible components and overall construction.
A shod horse loses direct contact with the ground; the lack of sensation in the sole can result in slipping and stumbling, as the receptor nerves in the hoof are deadened. This desensitized nervous system and restricted circulation can camouflage underlying health problems as often “numbness” is then interpreted as “soundness”, and an ailment can go undetected for years.
The addition of horseshoes to a horse’s hoof changes the normal stride and anatomical balance of the entire horse. These unnatural mechanics can lead to muscle, joint, tendon and ligament damage. Nail holes from shoes destroy the hoof wall, decrease elasticity and allow access of fungi and bacteria into the hoof capsule, and often contribute to conditions such as thin brittle hoof walls, white line disease, chronic abscessing, and even mechanical founder. Other weaknesses that often also result from shoeing and improper trimming are: contracted heels, thrush, thin and weak soles, laid over bars and atrophied frogs.
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