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 A Foundational Anatomy

Crucial to the farrier’s toolkit is a ‘tool’ that isn’t made of metal – rather, a deep and thorough understanding of the hoof, how it functions, and its inner workings is one of the most valuable ‘tools’ a farrier can have. Often, real diagrams (like seen here on display) are used to help farriers and others, like veterinarians, understand the layers of a horse foot and hoof. While many farriers aim to be therapeutic in their shoeing, they must be aware of other issues that may arise if the horse is not shod properly. For example, not cutting the hoof enough, or cutting it too much, or even wearing  the improper type or size of horseshoes can cause issues for the horse. After a horse died, many farriers honored their horse by making something out of their foot. Some of the ones that are most often seen are ink wells, candles, and pincushions, however, there are others like a sewing kit and a clock. 



The horse’s hoof is made of keratin – a protein that we also have! It makes up human skin, hair, and nails. This is what allows the hoof to still be flexible. Sometimes, a horseshoe may actually keep the horse’s hoof from being too flexible while working or showing, protecting the integrity of the foot and anatomy.

The images below detail basic anatomy of the horse's foot.

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Visualization and understanding of the hoof is crucial to proper, healthy shoeing. Hear below how some shoers approach visualization.

The links below provide additional detail on hoof and broader horse anatomy. As you view the definitions and diagrams, see if you can identify the parts on the hooves in front of  you.

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