Chestnut is a hair coat color of horses consisting of a reddish-to-brown coat with a mane and tail the same or lighter in color than the coat. Genetically and visually, chestnut is characterized by the absolute absence of true black hairs, it is one of the most common horse coat colors, seen in every breed of horse. Chestnut is a common coat color but the wide range of shades can cause confusion; the lightest chestnuts may be mistaken for palominos, while the darkest shades can be so dark as to resemble a black coat. Chestnuts have dark brown eyes, black skin, a coat, devoid of true black hairs. Typical chestnuts are some shade of reddish brown; the mane and legs may be lighter or darker than the body coat, but are never black. They may have pink skin beneath any white markings under the areas of white hair, if such white markings include one or both eyes, the eyes may be blue. Chestnut is produced by a recessive gene. Unlike many coat colors, chestnut can be true-breeding; some breeds, such as the Budyonny, Suffolk Punch, Haflinger are chestnut.
Other breeds, such as the Belgian are predominantly chestnut. However, a chestnut horse need not have two chestnut parents. For example, Friesian horses have been selected for many years to be uniformly black, but on rare occasions chestnuts are born; the Ariegeois pony is another example. Chestnuts can vary in shade and different terms are sometimes used to describe these shades though they are genetically indistinguishable. Collectively, these coat colors are called "red" by geneticists. A basic chestnut or "red" horse has a solid copper-reddish coat, with a mane and tail, close to the same shade as the body coat. Sorrel is a term used by American stock horse registries to describe red horses with manes and tails the same shade or lighter than the body coat color. In these registries, chestnut describes the darker shades of red-based coats. Colloquially, in the American west all copper-red chestnuts are called "sorrel." In other parts of the English-speaking world, some consider a "sorrel" to be a light chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail.
Liver chestnut or dark chestnut are not a descriptive term. The genetic controls for the depth of shade are not presently understood. Liver chestnuts are a dark-reddish brown. Liver chestnuts are included in the term "dark chestnut." The darkest chestnuts common in the Morgan horse, may be indistinguishable from true black without careful inspection. Confusingly called "black chestnuts," they may be identified by small amounts of reddish hair on the lower legs and tail, or by DNA or pedigree testing, it has been suggested that the trait or traits that produce certain darker shades of chestnut and bay, referred to as "sooty" coloration follow a recessive mode of inheritance. Flaxen chestnut and blond chestnut are terms that describe manes and/or tails that are flaxen, or lighter than the body color. Sometimes this difference is only a shade or two, but other flaxen chestnuts have near-white or silverish manes and tails. Haflingers are of this shade, it is considered desirable in other breeds, though the genetic mechanism is not understood.
Some flaxen chestnuts can be mistaken for palominos and have been registered in palomino color registries. Pangare or mealy is thought to be controlled by a single gene, unrelated to chestnut color, produces distinct characteristics common to wild equids: pale hairs around the eyes and muzzle and a pale underside. Haflingers and Belgians are examples of mealy chestnuts; the flaxen characteristic is sometimes associated with pangare, but not always. Chestnut is considered a "base color" in the discussion of equine coat color genetics. Additional coat colors based on chestnut are described in terms of their relationship to chestnut: Palominos have a chestnut base coat color, genetically modified to a golden shade by a single copy of the incomplete dominant cream gene. Palominos can be distinguished from chestnuts by the lack of true red tones in the coat; the eyes of chestnuts are dark brown, while those of a palomino are sometimes a lighter amber. Some color breed registries that promote palomino coloring have accepted flaxen chestnuts because registration is based on a physical description rather than a genetic identity.
Cremellos homozygous for the cream gene. They have a cream-colored coat, blue eyes and pigmented pink skin. Red duns have a chestnut base coat with the dun gene, their body color is pale, dusty tan shade that resembles the light undercoat color of a body-clipped chestnut but with a bold, dark dorsal stripe in dark red, a red mane and legs. They may have additional primitive markings, which distinguish a red dun from a light or body-clipped chestnut. Gold champagnes have a chestnut base coat with the champagne gene, they resemble a palomino, or they may be an all-over apricot shade, but can be distinguished from other colors by amber or green eyes and lightened skin color with freckling. Red or "strawberry" roans have a chestnut base coat with the classic roan gene. A skewbald, "chestnut pinto" or "sorrel Paint" is a pinto horse with white patches. Combinations of multiple dilution genes do not always have consistent names. For example, "dunalinos" are one copy of the cream gene. Bay horses have reddish coats, but they have a black mane, tail and other "points"
Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is judged by what its intended use may be, thus "form to function" is one of the first set of traits considered in judging conformation. A horse with poor form for a Grand Prix show jumper could have excellent conformation for a World Champion cutting horse, or to be a champion draft horse; every horse has good and bad points of its conformation and many horses excel with conformation faults. The standard of the ideal head varies from breed to breed based on a mixture of the role the horse is bred for and what breeders and enthusiasts find appealing. Breed standards cite large eyes, a broad forehead and a dry head-to-neck connection as important to correctness about the head. Traditionally, the length of head as measured from poll to upper lip should be two-thirds the length of the neck topline.
The construction of the horse's head influences its breathing, though there are few studies to support this. A width of 4 fingers or 7.2 cm was associated with an unrestricted airflow and greater endurance. However, a study in 2000 which compared the intermandibular width-to-size ratio of Thoroughbreds with their racing success showed this to be untrue; the relationship between head conformation and performance are not well understood, an appealing head may be more a matter of marketability than performance. Among mammals, morphology of the head plays a role in temperature regulation. Many ungulates have a specialized network of blood vessels called the carotid rete, which keeps the brain cool while the body temperature rises during exercise. Horses lack a carotid rete and instead use their sinuses to cool blood around the brain; these factors suggest that the conformation of a horse's head influences its ability to regulate temperature. A horse with a dished face or dished head has a muzzle with a concave profile on top further emphasized by slight bulging of forehead.
Dished heads are associated with Arabians and Arabian-influenced breeds, which excel at Endurance riding and were bred in the arid Arabian desert. There are several theories regarding the adaptive role of the dished head, it may be an adaptation to increase aerobic endurance. Dished head is not considered a deformity. A Roman nose is a muzzle with a convex profile. Convex heads are associated with Baroque horse breeds and horses from cold regions; this trait plays a role in warming air as it is inhaled, but may influence aerobic capacity. Roman nose is not considered a deformity. A horse with small nostrils or small nares can be found in any breed and accompanies a narrow jaw and muzzle. Small nostrils limit the horse's ability to breathe hard while exerting itself; this affects horses in high-speed activities or those that need to sustain effort over long duration. Horses with small nostrils are therefore best used for non-speed sports. A horse with pig eye has unusually small eyes; this is an aesthetic issue, but claimed by some to be linked to stubbornness or nervousness, thought to decrease the horse's visual field.
The lower jaw should be defined. The space between the two sides of the jawbone should be wide, with room for the larynx and muscle attachments; the width should be 7.2 cm, about the width of a fist. The jaw is called narrow; the jaw is called large. A large jaw adds weight to the head. Too large of a jaw can cause a reduction to the horse's ability to flex at the poll to bring his head and neck into proper position for collection and to help balance. A parrot mouth is an overbite; this can affect the horse's ability to graze. Parrot mouth can be managed with regular teeth floating by a veterinarian. A monkey mouth, sow mouth, or bulldog mouth is an underbite, where the lower jaw extends further out than the upper jaw; this is less common than parrot mouth. This can affect the horse's ability to graze. Monkey mouth can be managed with regular teeth floating by a veterinarian. Ears should be proportional to the head, they should be set just below the level of the poll at the top of the head. Ears should be a position and backward.
Ears that are too large or too small may make the head seem too small or large in proportion with the body. A neck of ideal length is about one third of the horse's length, measured from poll to withers, with a length comparable to the length of the legs. An ideally placed neck is called a horizontal neck, it is set on the chest neither too high nor too low, with its weight and balance aligned with the forward movement of the body. The horse is easy to supple, develop strength, to control with hand and legs aids. Although uncommon, it is seen in Thoroughbreds, American Quarter Horses, some Warmbloods. Horizontal neck is advantageous to every sport, as the neck is flexible and works well for balancing. A short neck is one, less than one third the length of the horse. Short necks are common, found in any breed. A short neck hinders the balancing ability of the horse, making it more prone to stumbling and clumsiness. A short neck adds more weight on the foreha
Gray or grey is a coat color of horses characterized by progressive silvering of the colored hairs of the coat. Most gray horses have black dark eyes, their adult hair coat is dappled, or white intermingled with hairs of other colors. Gray horses may be born any base color, depending on other color genes present. White hairs begin to appear at or shortly after birth and become progressively lighter as the horse ages. Graying can occur at different rates—very on one horse and slowly on another. Gray horses appear in many breeds, though the color is most seen in breeds descended from Arabian ancestors; some breeds that have large numbers of gray-colored horses include the Thoroughbred, the Arabian, the American Quarter Horse, the Percheron, the Andalusian, the Welsh pony, the most famous of all gray horse breeds, the Lipizzaner. People who are unfamiliar with horses may refer to gray horses as "white". However, a gray horse whose hair coat is "white" will still have black skin and dark eyes; this is.
White horses have pink skin and sometimes have blue eyes. Young horses with hair coats consisting of a mixture of colored and gray or white hairs are sometimes confused with roan; some horses that carry dilution genes may be confused with white or gray. While gray is called a coat color by breed registries, genetically it may be more correct to call it a depigmentation pattern, it is a dominant allele, thus a horse needs only one copy of the gray allele, that is, heterozygous, to be gray in color. A homozygous gray horse, one carrying two gray alleles, will always produce gray foals. Gray is common in many breeds. Today, about one horse in 10 carries the mutation for graying with age; the vast majority of Lipizzaners are gray. Many breeds of French draft horse such as the Percheron and Boulonnais are gray as well. Gray is found among Welsh Ponies and American Quarter Horses. All of these breeds have common ancestry in the Arabian horse. In particular, all gray Thoroughbreds descend from a horse named Alcock's Arabian, a gray born in 1700.
The gray coat color makes up about 3% of Thoroughbreds. Gray occurs in spotted horses such as pintos or Appaloosas, but its effects wash out the contrast of the markings of these patterns. For this reason, some color breed registries cancel registration of gray horses. A gray foal may be born any color. However, chestnut, or black base colors are most seen; as the horse matures, white hairs begin to replace the birth color. White hairs are first seen by the muzzle and flanks at birth, by the age of one year. Over time, white hairs replace the birth color and the horse changes to either a rose gray and pepper, or dapple gray; as the horse ages, the coat continues to lighten to a pure fleabitten gray hair coat. Thus, the many variations of gray coloring in horses are intermediate steps that a young horse takes while graying out from a birth color to a hair coat, "white." Different breeds, individuals within each breed, take differing amounts of time to gray out. Thus, graying cannot be used to approximate the age of a horse except in the broadest of terms: a young horse will never have a white coat, while a horse in its teens is grayed out.
One must be careful not to confuse the small amount of gray hairs that may appear on some older horses in their late teens or twenties, which do not reflect the gray gene and never cause a complete graying of the horse. This change in hair color can be confusing. Many new horse owners, not understanding the workings of the gray gene, are disappointed to discover that their dapple gray horse turns white a few years later. Other times, people traveling with gray horses who have a pure white hair coat have encountered problems with non-horse-oriented officials such as police officers or border guards who are unclear about a horse who has papers saying it is "gray" when the horse in front of them appears white. To further complicate matters, the skin and eyes may be other colors if influenced by other factors such as white markings, certain white spotting patterns or dilution genes. An intermediate stage in young horses that are in the early stages of turning gray is sometimes called "salt and pepper," "iron gray," or "steel gray."
This coloring occurs when white and black hairs are intermingled on the body seen in horses that are born black or dark bay. This is the most common intermediate form of gray. "Rose gray" is a term used to describe this intermediate stage for a horse born a chestnut or lighter bay color. While these colors are "graying out," both red and white hairs are mixed on the body, thus rose gray horses have a slight pinkish tinge to their graying coat. These horses are sometimes confused with roans, but a gray continues to lighten with age, while a roan does not. Roaning causes fewer white hairs on the legs and head, giving the horse the appearance of dark points, not true of gray. "Dapple gray" is an intermediate stage not seen on all grays, but considered attractive. It consists of a dark hair coat with "dapples," which are dark rings with lighter hairs on the inside of the ring, scattered over the entire body of the animal, it is another possible intermediate step in the graying process of the horse.
Dappled grays should not be confused with the slight dappling "bloom" seen on horse
Black is a hair coat color of horses in which the entire hair coat is black. Black is a uncommon coat color, it is not uncommon to mistake dark chestnuts or bays for black. True black horses have dark brown eyes, black skin, wholly black hair coats without any areas of permanently reddish or brownish hair, they may have pink skin beneath any white markings under the areas of white hair, if such white markings include one or both eyes, the eyes may be blue. Many black horses "sun bleach" with exposure to the elements and sweat, therefore their coats may lose some of their rich black character and may resemble bay or seal brown, though examination of the color of hair around the eyes and genitals will determine color. Black horses that do not sun bleach are called "non-fading" blacks; some breeds of horses, such as the Friesian horse and Ariegeois are exclusively black. Black is common in the Fell pony, Dales pony and Alt-Oldenburger and Groningen; when identifying the base color of a horse, it is important to disregard all pink-skinned white markings.
White markings and patterns such as pinto and leopard have no bearing on the underlying base coat color of the animal. Black foals are born a mousy gray but can be darker shades; as many foals have primitive markings at birth, some black foals are mistaken for grullo or bay dun. Black foals have dark skin and eyes at birth. An adult-like black foal coat indicates that the foal will gray, if the foal has at least one gray parent. Graying can be confirmed by the presence of white hairs around muzzle. Gray Lipizzaner horses are born black. Black adult horses are easier to identify, as the coat must be black if superficially sun bleached. A sun bleached black may be confused with a dark bay, but a trained eye can distinguish between them by examining the fine hairs around the eyes and muzzle; when a black horse is sun-bleached, the mane and tail sun bleach most prominently, the rest of the coat may have a rusty tinge. A sun-bleached black may be mistaken for the less common smoky black, but can be distinguished by pedigree analysis or DNA testing.
Dark bay or seal brown: The darkest shades of bay are confused with black by experienced horse persons. However, a dark bay will always show some rich red character in its coat. Horses with a dark coat that may appear black, but have tan or reddish hairs around the eyes, muzzle and stifle are sometimes called "seal brown", "mahogany bay", or "black bay." Both colors can be confirmed with a DNA test. Liver chestnut: Some red horses are so dark that they appear black, are called "black chestnuts" as a consequence; however the darkest liver chestnuts will show some red character in their coats in the hair around the pastern or in the mane or tail. Dark liver chestnuts do not have any true black pigment in their coats; this can be verified with DNA testing. Liver chestnut is common in the Morgan horse. Smoky black: The action of the cream gene in the heterozygous condition has a minimal effect on black pigment, so heterozygous creams with a black base coat differ little from true blacks. A smoky black will have at least one cream parent, is born a pewter shade with blue eyes, retains reddish hair inside the ear through adulthood.
In the study and discussion of equine coat color genetics, black is considered a "base" color, as is red. This designation makes the effects of other coat color genes easier to understand. Coat colors that are designated "black-based" include grullo, smoky black, smoky cream, silver black, classic champagne, blue roan. Sometimes this designation includes the bay family: bay, seal brown, bay dun, silver bay, amber champagne, bay roan. Horses with a black-based coat may have added spotting patterns including leopard patterns seen on Appaloosas and the pinto coloring known as piebald; the genetics behind the black horse are simple. The color black is controlled by two genes: Extension and Agouti; the functional, dominant allele of the extension gene enables the horse to produce black pigment in the hair. Without this gene, the coat is devoid of black pigment and the horse is some shade of red; the functional, dominant allele of the agouti gene enable the horse to restrict black pigment to certain parts of the coat, notably the legs and tail, allowing the underlying red to show through, resulting in bay coloring.
Without this gene, any black pigment present is unrestricted. Thus a black horse has at least one copy of the functional, dominant "E" allele and two copies of the non-functional, recessive "a" allele. A mature true black horse can be safely said to possess at least one dominant extension gene. A DNA test, which uses hair with the root intact, has been developed to test for the Extension and Agouti genotypes. However, the terminology can be manipulated; the extension test is mislabeled as the "black test", leading to confusion. Neither the extension test nor the agouti test alone can identify a black horse. Together, they can determine that a horse that appears visually black is not a dark bay or liver chestnut. Horses described as "homozygous black" are homozyg
Equestrianism, more known as horse riding or horseback riding, refers to the skill and sport of riding, steeplechasing or vaulting with horses. This broad description includes the use of horses for practical working purposes, recreational activities, artistic or cultural exercises, competitive sport. Horses are trained and ridden for practical working purposes, such as in police work or for controlling herd animals on a ranch, they are used in competitive sports including, but not limited to, endurance riding, reining, show jumping, tent pegging, polo, horse racing and rodeo. Some popular forms of competition are grouped together at horse shows where horses perform in a wide variety of disciplines. Horses are used for non-competitive recreational riding such as fox hunting, trail riding, or hacking. There is public access to horse trails in every part of the world. Horses are used for therapeutic purposes both in specialized para-equestrian competition as well as non-competitive riding to improve human health and emotional development.
Horses are driven in harness racing, at horse shows, in other types of exhibition such as historical reenactment or ceremony pulling carriages. In some parts of the world, they are still used for practical purposes such as farming. Horses continue to be used in public service: in traditional ceremonies and volunteer mounted patrols and for mounted search and rescue. Riding halls enable the training of horse and rider in all weathers as well as indoor competition riding. Though there is controversy over the exact date horses were domesticated and when they were first ridden, the best estimate is that horses first were ridden 3500 BC. Indirect evidence suggests. There is some evidence that about 3,000 BC, near the Dnieper River and the Don River, people were using bits on horses, as a stallion, buried there shows teeth wear consistent with using a bit. However, the most unequivocal early archaeological evidence of equines put to working use was of horses being driven. Chariot burials about 2500 BC present the most direct hard evidence of horses used as working animals.
In ancient times chariot warfare was followed by the use of war horses as heavy cavalry. The horse played an important role throughout human history all over the world, both in warfare and in peaceful pursuits such as transportation and agriculture. Horses died out at the end of the Ice Age. Horses were brought back to North America by European explorers, beginning with the second voyage of Columbus in 1493. Equestrianism was introduced in the 1900 Summer Olympics as an Olympic sport with jumping events. Humans appear to have long expressed a desire to know which horse or horses were the fastest, horse racing has ancient roots. Gambling on horse races appears to go hand-in hand with racing and has a long history as well. Thoroughbreds have the pre-eminent reputation as a racing breed, but other breeds race. Under saddle Thoroughbred horse racing is the most popular form worldwide. In the UK, it is governed by the Jockey Club in the United Kingdom. In the USA, horse racing is governed by The Jockey Club.
Steeplechasing involves racing on a track where the horses jump over obstacles. It is most common in the UK, where it is called National Hunt racing. American Quarter Horse racing—races over distances of a quarter-mile. Seen in the United States, sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association. Arabian horses, Akhal-Teke, American Paint Horses and other light breeds are raced worldwide. Endurance riding, a sport in which the Arabian horse dominates at the top levels, has become popular in the United States and in Europe; the Federation Equestre International governs international races, the American Endurance Ride Conference organizes the sport in North America. Endurance races take place over a given, measured distance and the horses have an start. Races are 50 to 100 miles, over mountainous or other natural terrain, with scheduled stops to take the horses' vital signs, check soundness and verify that the horse is fit to continue; the first horse to finish and be confirmed by the veterinarian as fit to continue is the winner.
Additional awards are given to the best-conditioned horses who finish in the top 10. Limited distance rides of about 25–20 miles are offered to newcomers. Ride and Tie. Ride and Tie involves three equal partners: one horse; the humans alternately ride. Show jumping: Show jumping is when a horse carries a rider over an obstacle commonly known as a jump. There are multiple jumps in a show, if the horse hits or refuses a jump, points will be deducted from the rider score; this is a timed event, the rider is expected to complete the course in a certain amount of time, without error. There are the hunter divisions. In the hunters, riders have to make their horses look good; the judges look at the quality of the course, if there are two or more riders who had put down amazing courses the judge or judges looks at how the horse looks and acts with the rider. In harness: Both light and heavy breeds as well as ponies are raced in harness with a sulk
Eventing is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combine and compete against other combinations across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country, show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test that required mastery of several types of riding; the competition may be run as a one-day event, where all three events are completed in one day or a three-day event, more now run over four days, with dressage on the first two days, followed by cross-country the next day and show jumping in reverse order on the final day. Eventing was known as Combined Training, the name persists in many smaller organizations; the term "Combined Training" is sometimes confused with the term "Combined Test", which refers to a combination of just two of the phases, most dressage and show jumping. Eventing is an equestrian triathlon, in that it combines three different disciplines in one competition set out over one, two, or three days, depending on the length of courses and number of entries.
This sport follows a similar format in Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States The dressage phase consists of an exact sequence of movements ridden in an enclosed arena. The test is judged by one or more judges, who are looking for balance, rhythm and most the cooperation between the horse and rider; the challenge is to demonstrate that a supremely fit horse, capable of completing the cross-country phase on time has the training to perform in a graceful and precise manner. Dressage work is the basis of all the other phases and disciplines within the sport of eventing because it develops the strength and balance that allow a horse to go cross-country and show jump competently. At the highest level of competition, the dressage test is equivalent to the United States Dressage Federation Third Level and may ask for half-pass at trot, shoulder-in, collected and extended gaits, single flying changes, counter-canter; the tests may not ask for Grand Prix movements such as canter pirouette, or passage.
Each movement in the test is scored on a scale from 0 to 10, with a score of "10" being the highest possible mark and with the total maximum score for the test varying depending on the level of competition and the number of movements. A score of 10 is rare. Therefore, if one movement is poorly executed, it is still possible for the rider to get a good overall score if the remaining movements are well executed; the marks are added together and any errors of course deducted. To convert this score to penalty points, the average marks of all judges are converted to a percentage of the maximum possible score, subtracted from 100 and the multiplied by a co-efficient decided by the governing body. Canadian example: 77 percent becomes 34.5 penalty points or x 1.5 = 34.5 Once the bell rings the rider is allowed 45 seconds to enter the ring or receive a two-point penalty an additional 45 seconds, for a total of 90 seconds, or is eliminated. If all four feet of the horse exit the arena during the test, this results in elimination.
If the horse resists more than 20 seconds during the test, this results in elimination. If the rider falls, this results in elimination. Errors on course: 1st: minus 2 marks 2nd: minus 4 marks 3rd: elimination The next phase, cross-country, requires both horse and rider to be in excellent physical shape and to be brave and trusting of each other; this phase consists of 12–20 fences, or 30–40 at the higher levels, placed on a long outdoor circuit. These fences consist of solidly built natural objects as well as various obstacles such as ponds and streams, ditches and banks, combinations including several jumping efforts based on objects that would occur in the countryside. Sometimes at higher levels, fences are designed that would not occur in nature. However, these are still designed to be as solid as more natural obstacles. Safety regulations mean that some obstacles are now being built with a "frangible pin system", allowing part or all of the jump to collapse if hit with enough impact. Speed is a factor, with the rider required to cross the finish line within a certain time frame.
Crossing the finish line after the optimum time results in penalties for each second over. At lower levels, there is a speed fault time, where penalties are incurred for horse and rider pairs completing the course too quickly. For every "disobedience" a horse and rider incur on course, penalties will be added to their dressage score. After four disobediences altogether or three disobediences at one fence the pair is eliminated, meaning they can no longer participate in the competition. A horse and rider pair can be eliminated for going off course, for example missing a fence. If the horses shoulder and hind-quarter touch the ground, mandatory retirement is taken and they are not allowed to participate further in the competition. If the rider falls off the horse they are eliminated. However, in the US this rule is being revised for the Novice level and below; the penalties for disobediences on cross-country are weighted relative to the other phases of competition to emphasize the importance of courage and athleticism.
Fitness is required as the time allowed will require a strong canter at the lower levels, all the way to a strong gallop at the higher events. In recent years, a controversy has developed between supporters of sho
A horse hoof is a structure surrounding the distal phalanx of the 3rd digit of each of the four limbs of Equus species, covered by complex soft tissue and keratinised structures. Since a single digit must bear the full proportion of the animal's weight, borne by that limb, the hoof is of vital importance to the horse; the phrase "no hoof, no horse" underlines how much the health and the strength of the hoof is crucial for horse soundness. Both wild and feral equid hooves have enormous strength and resilience, allowing any gait on any ground. A common example of the feral horse type is the Mustang; the Mustang is, in part, descended from the Iberian horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish, but most herds have ancestry from other breeds. Therefore, the famous Mustang hoof strength is in part a result of natural selection and environment. Thus, it is proposed that other domestic breeds could develop similar hooves if raised under similar conditions; the recent barefoot movement claims that such a strength can be completely restored to domesticated horses, when appropriate trimming and living conditions are applied, to such an extent that horseshoes are no longer necessary in any horse.
If true, it would undermine the belief that "the horseshoe is a necessary evil." The barefoot management system has not, gained a foothold among serious equine professionals, due to three factors: 1) increased strain placed on the hoof in sports, such as eventing and endurance riding, 2) the added weight of the rider and saddle, 3) man-made surfaces, such as concrete and gravel, which can wear the walls down to the sensitive tissue over time. The hoof is made up by an outer part, the hoof capsule and an inner, living part, containing soft tissues and bone; the cornified material of the hoof capsule is different in structure and properties in different parts. Dorsally, it covers and supports P3. Palmarly/plantarly, it protects specialised soft tissues; the upper circular limit of the hoof capsule is the coronet, having an angle to the ground of similar magnitude in each pair of feet. These angles may differ from one horse to another, but not markedly; the walls originate from the coronet band. Walls are longer in the dorsal portion of the hoof, intermediate in length in the lateral portion and short in palmar/plantar portion.
Heels are separated by an elastic, resilient structure named the'frog'. In the palmar/plantar part of the foot, above the heels and the frog, there are two oval bulges named the'bulbs'; when viewed from the lower surface, the hoof wall's free margin encircles most of the hoof. The triangular frog occupies the center area. Lateral to the frog are two grooves, deeper in their posterior portion, named'collateral grooves'. At the heels, the palmar/plantar portion of the walls bend inward following the external surface of collateral grooves to form the bars; the lower surface of the hoof, from the outer walls and the inner frog and bars, is covered by an exfoliating keratinised material, called the'sole'. Just below the coronet, the walls are covered for about an inch by a cornified, opaque'periople' material. In the palmar/plantar part of the hoof, the periople is thicker and more rubbery over the heels, it merges with frog material. Not all horses have the same amount of periople. Dry feet tend to lack this substance.
The walls are considered as a protective shield covering the sensitive internal hoof tissues, as a structure devoted to dissipating the energy of concussion, as a surface to provide grip on different terrains. They are elastic and tough, vary in thickness from 6 to 12 mm; the walls are composed of three distinct layers: the pigmented layer, the water line and the white line. The pigmented layer is generated by the coronet, its color is just like that of the coronet skin from which it is derived. If the coronet skin has any dark patch, the walls show a corresponding pigmented line, from the coronet to the ground, showing the wall's growth direction; this layer has predominately protective role, is not as resistant to ground contact, where it can break and flake away. The water line is built up by the wall's corium, its thickness increases proportionally to the distance from the coronet and, in the lower third of the walls, is thicker than the pigmented layer. It is resistant to contact to the ground, it serves a support function.
The white line is the inner layer of the wall. It is fibrous in structure and light in color. From the underside of the healthy hoof, it is seen as a thin line joining the walls; the white line grows out from the laminar connections. Any visible derangement of the white line indicates some important derangement of laminar connections that fix the walls to the underlying P3 bone. Since the white line is softer than both the walls and the sole, it wears fast where it appears on the surface; the three layers of the wall merge in a single mass and they grow downwards together. If the wall does not wear from sufficient movement on abrasive terrains, th