What Happens If You Don’t Trim Horse Hooves?

Correctly caring for a horse involves carrying out a multitude of tasks in order to ensure they remain healthy at all times. Looking after their hooves is something that cannot be overlooked. So, what happens if you don’t trim horse hooves?

We need to think of their hooves as being like our own nails. If we didn’t cut or trim our nails. Then they would grow, become annoying, and eventually, we wouldn’t be able to take the discomfort and have to cut them off. Well, it’s even worse for a horse with its hooves.

The Similarity With Our Nails

But this similarity with our own nails is not just a way of trying to help you have a better understanding of the situation. 

You see, their hooves are actually made of the same sort of stuff as our nails. Also, when you trim their hooves, they don’t feel any pain with it, and that’s also like us when we cut our nails.

In saying that, if you trim them in the wrong way, then it can hurt. We will all be familiar with cutting into the quick with our nails and how that kind of thing can sting.

The Structure of Their Hoof

Their hoof is basically made of three different parts, the wall, the frog, and the sole. 

The wall is the part that is most familiar to us. It’s the section of their hoof that we are able to see when they are standing. This is the part that will grow and need to be trimmed. Look at the wall as being the nail part of the foot, if that makes it easier to follow what is going on.

The wall wraps itself almost all the way around the foot, apart from a section at the back. To see the frog and sole, you need to lift their foot up.

There, you will notice the sole is a curved structure towards the front of the hoof. The sole is going to never really touch the ground while the frog is located to the rear of the hoof. It’s easy to spot due to its V shape with a line down the middle, known as the central groove.

And that’s the basic structure of a hoof, but it’s the wall we are really focused on here.

The Hoof Wall

So the wall is made from a horn like material, and this is something that the horse is going to keep producing throughout their life. That is why it needs to be trimmed, but we will get into the reasons as to why this is so important shortly.

The wall does not contain any nerves or blood vessels, just like our own nails. It will also tend to be thicker as you go to the front of the hoof. Then, it gets thinner to the back. In saying that, the back is still thicker than most people imagine.

What Happens If You Don’t Trim Their Hooves?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you don’t trim their hooves. What do you think will happen?

Well, the first thing to point out is that their hooves will keep growing. On average, they grow about half an inch in a month. However, some horses will experience faster growth, while others will experience slower growth.

But no matter the growth rate, this is what will happen.

When a horse moves, the frog is the first part that touches the ground. After that, this entire process happens regarding weight distribution, balance, and everything else. 

However, that won’t happen if you don’t trim their hooves.

How a Horse Walks

Instead, the wall becomes the first part to touch the ground, so that is going to make it harder for them to move. In fact, if you leave it too long, then it will potentially lead to them becoming lame.

It changes how they distribute and support their weight. It puts pressure on tendons that aren’t designed to cope with a change in pressure or anything else.

Even having their hooves slightly too long, which simply means you haven’t had it trimmed for a relatively short period of time, can lead to your horse potentially tripping and stumbling. That makes it very easy for them to possibly break their leg, and that is something you don’t want to happen.

If a horse falls and breaks a leg, it could be potentially life-threatening for them. The fact that this can happen just by failing to correctly care for their hooves would be a tragedy.

So that is what can potentially happen if you don’t trim horse hooves, and as you can see, it’s not a good thing to allow to happen to your horse. 

Returning to the Idea of Nails

But let’s cast our mind back to the nail comparison for a second.

If you don’t trim your nails, then they would get to a point where they would twist and turn. There are certainly enough images on Google that will show this.

Well, the same applies to horse hooves. Leave it too long, and they will start to twist and turn. 

Even though there are no nerves in the wall part, it will eventually lead to pain for your horse. Also, there’s another important aspect that is often overlooked that will also have an impact on their health thanks to their hooves.

Aside from trimming them, you also need to take care of the wall part, just like we need to do with our own nails. If you don’t, then they can dry out and crack, causing numerous problems for your horse.

It’s almost as if you need to treat their hooves in the same way as you look after your own hands. However, it’s even more important for your horse, as they are standing on their hooves most of the time. Imagine if you didn’t cut your nails and you had to put all your weight on them all day. How would you feel in that situation?

Chances are that you wouldn’t be too happy about it all.

Is There a Time They Don’t Need to Be Trimmed?

There are times where there is less of a need to have their hooves trimmed, but that is when they are constantly working on hard and abrasive surfaces. 

In that situation, just moving around on that hard surface will, in effect, help to file down the wall part all on its own. However, you cannot simply assume that this will be the case. You do need to continually check that their hooves are at a length that is suitable for your horse, and where it won’t cause them discomfort.

But if your horse spends time on soft pasture, then they won’t be able to wear down the wall on their own. It just cannot happen.

How to Trim Their Hooves

Keeping on top of this issue is relatively simple. There are professionals who will specialize in trimming horses hooves. Also, they will often shoe them as well, and it’s going to be best to hire their services. After all, you don’t want to overcut them as this changes the angle of their hooves. Doing this can put a lot of undue pressure on other parts of their legs.

It brings them immense discomfort. Also, it will affect how they move. It will cause problems with other parts of their body away from their hooves. Overall, it will only lead to one thing, and that’s your horse effectively becoming lame.

But here’s the sad part. Trimming their hooves should never be difficult.

Get a local farrier. This is important, even if you plan on trimming their hooves on your own in the future. An experienced farrier will be able to guide you through not only how to do it, but also what to look out for when it comes to their hooves.

You see, you cannot simply trim what you think needs to come off. There’s a whole lot about angles to be incorporated into it to make sure undue pressure is not being applied to their legs.

Once again, a farrier will help with this, and keep using them until you feel confident enough to trim their hooves on your own. There’s no doubt that you will eventually get the hang of it.

Overall Conclusion

That is why you need to trim horse hooves, and it’s easy to see why this is such an important thing to do. Think about their hooves as if it is your own fingernails. Trim them, keep them healthy, and just be aware that ignoring what is going on is simply not an option.

Failing to trim them will lead to your horse being in pain and struggling to move around. It can lead to them effectively becoming lame, and no responsible horse owner would ever want that to happen.

Get a farrier to help you out, and learn everything you can about how to trim their hooves yourself. By doing so, you will be able to keep your horse healthy and, most importantly of all, happy.