Understand the Horse's Hoof

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The Exterior of the Equine Hoof

• The Coronet-the band around the top of the hoof where the hair stops. Also called coronary band. Point of growth for the hoof-if damaged, growth of hoof wall will be interrupted at that point-damage will be evident as hoof grows out.

• The Hoof Wall-the horny exterior of the hoof-grows downward from the coronet-similar in construction to the human fingernail-insensitive-subject to disintegration at the lower edge from excessive wetness or dryness.Underside of the Hoof

• The Frog-the triangular, spongy portion in the center of the underside of the hoof-absorbs shock-aids in pumping of blood to interior structures of hoof.

• The Sole-the concave, insensitive underside of the hoof-protects the sensitive sole inside-may be bruised or punctured by treading on stones or nails.

• The White Line-the narrow strip where the bottom edge of the hoof wall meets the sole. Inside the Equine Hoof

• The lower part of the short pastern.

• Digital Cushion-fattylike substance that helps put the brakes on the bones in the hooves as they descend down toward the frog during the leg's weight-bearing phase.

• Frog Stay-helps divide the cushion spread outward into the heel buttresses above small pockets found above the bars.

• The Coffin Bone-shaped like a hoof-held in place by the sensitive lamina and the insensitive lamina, which form a bond-separation of these can cause rotation of the coffin bone as is found in Laminitis.

• The Navicular Bone-a small bone that fits in the space between the short pastern and the coffin bone. The surface at the back of the navicular bone is covered with smooth cartilage, which aids in the movement of the flexor tendon, which passes over it-degeneration of the navicular bone and the protecting cartilage results in Navicular Disease.

• The Lateral Cartilage-wings of cartilage on either side of the coffin bone-contributes to the elasticity of the hoof-absorbs shock by spreading on impact-calcification of the cartilage (thought to be caused by excessive concussion) results in Sidebone-shock absorbing qualities compromised-lameness may result.