No hoof, no horse.....discussion - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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No hoof, no horse.....discussion

To get this straight right off the bat, this is not a thread for the purpose of bashing halter horses, simply a discussion of adequate weight bearing ability and the size of a horse's feet versus the size of their body.

What made me start thinking about this is when I bought some new shoes for my monster, Rafe. My first instinctual reaction was "Holy, cow. His feet are HUGE." Then I started to really think about it and came to a whole other conclusion.

I'm going to leave breed completely out of my part of this discussion because, frankly, I don't think breed should matter in this respect.

My guy is 16.2. On a light day, he probably weighs 1400 pounds. I consider him to have feet that are on the small side of normal for something his weight. He wears a size 3. I wish they were bigger but I didn't breed his parents and I can't change the size of hoof he grows or the size of body he carries.

Sorry, best pic I could find right off the bat.


Then I started thinking about all those horses who run around at that weight, or heavier, on a hoof that doesn't even get out of the zeros; 0, 00, 000, etc. Most people, especially if they don't have personal experience with seeing or handling hooves that small, they can't really fathom the size difference so I managed to find some other sizes up at the barn today and got a couple of pictures to compare.

You can see how small Rafe's feet really look when compared to his whole body, but can you imagine him with feet this much smaller? His shoe, the size 3, is the biggest of course. The other new one is a 0, the older one that's rusty is a 00. For consistency's sake, I searched to find 3 shoes made by the same company (which actually run about a half size bigger than most other brands).



Now try to imagine a horse his size, with a hoof that much smaller than what he's already got. How much more stress is being put on everything in that hoof from the tendons to the sole to the laminae and the walls, even down to the bones?

How long can a hoof under that much stress really continue to function?

This is his shoe with the 00 on top, just to better show the real size difference.

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post #2 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 12:13 AM
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I agree with you.

Undersized feet may appeal to some judges, but I wouldn't count on a horse with them. I've seen some with tiny feet, but never really paid attention to them as possibly being something I'd have. It would be unfair to the horse, for one thing.
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 12:23 AM
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I used to work around two, huge stock horses that stood on teeny, upright feet. They looked so uncomfortable carrying their weight on such small feet. I think their feet should have been twice the size of what they were.

Luckily, the huge 16.2h horse that is at my horse has big feet to carry his big body. He moves so much more comfortable than the other 2 horses I was around. Why can't big, sound feet be more attractive than teeny ones?
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 12:26 AM
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So Cinderella's ugly stepsisters were on to something then huh?
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 06:41 AM
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My 15.2 TWH wears a 2 (wore her down barefoot) but the farrier said she'd be a size 3 at next shoeing. She has the wide hoof type.

To me this looks normal. Even my 14.2 Saddle horses are size 1.

But I digress...these are breeds bred to work. Not bred to look like Belgium Blue cattle.
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 07:11 AM
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Agree fully that some fashions in breeding are ridiculous & sometimes maybe even cruel. But your horse's feet look fine SM & don't forget, the small side of 'normal' may well be because normal is too often flared, run forward...
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 11:15 AM
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In the old saying NO Hoof No Horse these Old Timers were refering to the horses bone structure. The Hoof shows the relationship of the rest of the horses skeleton, a small Hoofed horse will have smaller bone on the whole, you can see that by the size of the Pastorn and Cannon Bones, a big hoof will be big boned horse.
Example my fjord mare of the old Heavy typ with thick legs like fence posts is 145cm. And takes a #2 shoe. Her x Standi off-spring at 148cm. Had a #1 shoe.
My Standi at 160cm. With racing legs takes a #2.

Body Mass and work intensity will determine how long the feet and legs will last. If the bone is not in proportion to the weight then the legs are not going to hold very long.
Examples like many Quarter Show Horse typs that are carring a lot of body mass on a small bone structure.
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by amigoboy View Post
Body Mass and work intensity will determine how long the feet and legs will last. If the bone is not in proportion to the weight then the legs are not going to hold very long.
Examples like many Quarter Show Horse typs that are carrying a lot of body mass on a small bone structure.
I respectfully disagree. My old QH, "Ro Go Bar" (Appendix, QH Racehorse stock, 1982-2009, RIP) was just under 16'hh and had great big feet. After he was foaled the QH industry started to manipulate the hoof size and breed beefy horses with small feet. It doesn't take the knowledge of shoe size--I am an idiot about that and let my farrier do his job--to understand that a smaller base should not support heavier weight. When you build a table like those in the late 1700's that have spindly legs, either the top was lighter in weight, or the wood was denser.
http://www.handmadewindsorchairs.com...r_chairs_6.gif
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_md1hqi7AeJ1rzrfqw.jpg
http://www.mfa.org/americas-wing/ima...1/1988_530.jpg
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/ar...tml?fta=y&_r=0
They used primarily oak bc oak is the densest native wood. The pine we buy today at hardware stores is a hybred, grown quickly to replace those cut down and has very low density, therefore much less weight bearing ability than oak.
What is the comparison between wood and a horse? They are both living organisms and the dead wood grew with overlapping plant cells, creating strength.


Bone density comes from pounding work, not from genetics. I tolerate this QH small feet craze and I hope that people will stop breeding this way. Wishful thinking, though, judging the freaks that are winning in the QH Halter classes. Just MHO =/

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post #9 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
Wishful thinking, though, judging the freaks that are winning in the QH Halter classes. Just MHO =/
And mine, too. Gets me a little (but add lightning bolts). It is a two-edged sword. People are deliberately breeding feet and bodies like that, but the judges are awarding them. Sickening.

My mare is "just" my best friend, but she comes from Paint halter stock and who-knows-what-kind of QH stock. She is a wide (but thankful not massive) 15hh mare with itty bitty feet. A crime.

OP, your horse is a gorgeous brute! A real hunk...wow! P.S., and if you were inclined to share privately (or publicly!) his breeding I would not mind at all. I do not need such a tall horse, but a nice, solid horse wold be awesome to ride.
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-02-2014, 05:52 PM
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In my experience hoof FORM is much more important than hoof size.
Hoof form directly affects the function and heath of the hoof, and its load dispersing capability.
A big flared foot with run forward toes is no better than a tall heel small foot.

A small footed horse can easily be kept as sound as a larger footed horse if the hooves are maintained correctly from an early age.

The halter horses hoof bones suffer in general from the gross overfeeding, stalling, and in some unfortunate cases, growth steroids .
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