How Do Wild Horses Maintain Their Hooves?

Since domestic horses get their hooves trimmed by humans, there is a question about how those of wild horses get taken care of.

So how do wild horses maintain their hooves?

Wild horses are always out on the run. They cover long distances every day on harsh terrains. The unfriendly grounds help with shaping hooves and preventing overgrowing.

Wild Horses Maintain Their Hooves

Wild Horses

The natural hoof care of wild horses

Natural hoof care is the practice of keeping horses so that their hooves are worn down naturally and so do not suffer overgrowth, splitting and other disorders.

wild horse hoof

A wild Mustang hoof, untouched by human hands. Credit to: Jeff Dixon for the photo.

There are several benefits of trimming naturally with the wild horses as an example:

  • The hoof can expand and contract upon impact with each step. These reactions are the primary way it dissipates the energy of influence, increases the circulation of blood through the limbs, and reduces the stress on the heart.
  • The horse will also have much fewer chiropractic, muscle, and joint problems.
  • Rarely are any of arthritis, navicular syndrome or many of the other hoof pathologies seen in the wild.

Wild horses wear their hooves regularly because of the harsh terrain that they live. Also, they move 20-40 miles every day to seek out food and water.

Take care of domestic horses

On the other hand, domestic horses still get support from humans to trim their hooves regularly.

To explain the reason why domestic horses need hoof care from humans, I’ve learned that our domestic horses generally don’t get worked enough on varied terrain to wear their hooves effectively. It is up to us to keep them trimmed and balanced to allow them to function how they are intended.

do horseshoes hurt horse

When it comes to taking of horse hooves, horse owners should be sensitive to signs of thrush – a common bacterial infection that softens the frog area, causing it to disintegrate.

The simplest method for thrush treatment is to scrub the frog with a stiff brush, warm water, and antiseptic soap. After that, let the frog dry.

Traditional hoof care vs. Barefoot movement

Whether wearing shoes or going barefoot is better for the horse is the subject of some controversies.

Advocates of traditional hoof care suggest that we need shoeing to protect the hoof from unnatural destruction and that the horseshoe and its various incarnations have been necessary to maintain the horse’s usability under extreme and abnormal conditions.

On the other hand, the barefoot horse movement argues that the horse benefits with a healthier hoof in some cases. Also, it can be less expensive to keep a horse barefoot, and many owners have learned to trim their horses’ hooves themselves.


The wild horses maintain their hooves by regularly out on the run to get food and water while domesticated horses receive the maintenance by being trimmed.



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