We all know the saying - No hoof, No horse.
"A healthy galloping horse exerts a force of around 1000kg to his front feet at the mid-point of each stride. The forces of evolution have produced in the equine foot a miracle of bio-engineering. Light in weight and flexible, the foot is nevertheless able to withstand the tremendous forces exerted upon it. Despite being a success in its natural environment, the equine hoof becomes a common sight of disease and injury when subjected to the demands of human domestication."
Prof Chris Pollitt, Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, The University of Queensland
In 2007 I had four horses, and in that same year I took all four of them barefoot. Before anyone groans though (I promise this isn't a Carol-banging-on-about-barefoot), first off a quick reassure that this chapter is about overall hoof health. "No hoof, No horse" applies whether the hoof has a shoe on it or not.
The main reason I briefly mention my own barefoot experience is because I found myself on the steepest learning curve about all things hoof, how to maintain hoof-health (shod or not), and most importantly the importance of hoof-health.
I still can't claim to know all things hoof, but compared to what I thought I knew, and after several decades of horsemanship, frankly I was clueless, so I have a lot to thank barefoot for.
So let's talk Hooves, a bit on Barefoot if you're interested, and probably the most dreaded symptom of the metabolic horse, Laminitis.