Functional Anatomy of the Horse Foot (E0922)
A publication about the the functional anatomy of the horse foot.
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The hoof is composed of the wall, sole and frog. The wall is simply that part of the hoof which is visible when the horse is standing. It covers the front and sides of the third phalanx (coffin bone). The wall is made up of the toe or the front part; the quarters or sides and the heels.
Whenever the foot is lifted off the ground, the sole, frog, bars of the wall and collateral grooves are visible.
The wall of the hoof is composed of a horny material which is produced continuously and must be worn off or trimmed off. The hoof wall does not contain blood vessels or nerves. In the front feet, the wall is thickest at the toe; in the hindfeet there is less difference in the thickness of the hoof wall.
The frog is a wedge-shaped mass which is quite elastic. It’s role will be discussed later.
Lateral cartilages extend back and up from the inner and outer sides of the third phalanx. These cartilages are flexible but as the horse ages they are usually replaced by bone.
The digital cushion is a mass of flexible material that contributes to the formation of the heels. This structure is very important as it is one of the primary shock absorbers of the foot.
A small bone, the navicular bone, is located between the second and third phalanges and above the deep flexor muscle tendon.