What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (2022)

After giving my cousin my old horse Cross Fiire, I began to teach her everything she needs to know about horses. One of these was picking out the horse’s feet. I began to point out the different parts of the horse’s hoof to her to help show her where she needed pick out the dirt and so she would know this valuable information. It then hit me that writing a whole article showing and describing each part of the hoof might be helpful to some people.

What Are The Names Of All The Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof?

There are many different parts of the hoof. The complete list of all the hoof parts includes:

  • Hoof Bars
  • Bulbs Of Heel
  • Heel
  • Frog
  • Point Of Frog
  • Cleft Of Frog
  • Sole
  • Hoof Wall
  • White Line
  • Lateral Sulci
  • Central Sulcus

These are all the visible parts of the hoof. Some of these parts I didn’t even know existed!!

Descriptions and Purposes Of All The Visible Parts Of The Hoof

Hoof Bars

The hoof bars are one of the less obvious parts of a horse’s hoof. The bars are seen on the left and right sides of the frog. The bars are seen just to the side of the heel and bulbs of the heel and next to the hoof’s lateral sulci.

Describing what the bars of the hoof look like and where they are located is really difficult so this visible representation might make it easier to understand the location and appearance of the hoof bars:

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (1)

Bulbs Of Heel

The bulbs of the heel are an extremely important part of the horse’s hoof. The reason for this is that the horse’s hoof needs both cushion and protection from the terrain, their weight, and their job. Horses that lack a decent shaped and proper sized heel often suffer from lameness, soreness, and bruising of their hooves due to the lack of protection.

The bulbs of the horse’s heel are at the very backmost part of the horse’s hoof. They are, unlike most of the hoof, made of a softer tissue than that of the sole or the hoof wall. This softer tissue helps to act as a cushion for when the horse moves and their weight falls on their heel. This natural cushion and protection are especially important in sports such as jumping or racing as these sports are especially hard on the horse’s legs and lower body.

Horses, especially horses with physical leg and foot issues, tend to carry most of their weight in their heels. Having a healthy amount of heel growth is important to help cushion and support the horse as they move around and use their legs and lower bodies.

The bulbs of the heel are round and, well, bulbous parts of the hoof seen in the very back of the hoof. A visual example of this might to help to understand what this part of the hoof looks like, and where it falls on the horse.

(Video) Introduction To The Parts Of The Horse's Hoof

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (2)

Heel

The heel of the horse is a crucial part of the horse’s hoof. Like the bulbs of the heel, the heel acts like a cushion to help keep the horse’s feet sound and comfortable while they are moving about.

Many horses don’t really have much heel on their feet which can cause them to be more prone to soundness issues. Horses with these problems should have a plan with their farriers to help encourage more heel growth.

The heel of the horse is in the same place as that of the bulbs of the heel.

Frog

The frog is quite possibly the most well-known part of the horse’s hoof. The frog can be identified as the large triangular-shaped raised portion at the center of the hoof. The frog, like the heel, acts as a cushion for the horse’s hoof to help absorb some of the shocks from jumping, galloping, or even just walking.

Fun Fact: The frog is actually believed to be a sort of blood pump. As the horse steps on it, it helps to push the blood back up out of the horse’s leg back into their body. This is thought to be why neglected horses have such swollen legs as the blood is not being pushed back up to the rest of the body. Though frequent exercise is crucial to the horse’s health and blood flow, it is still debated on whether or not the frog actually acts as a sort of blood pump.

Fun Fact: The frog is one of the most important, and one of the first parts of the hoof to learn.

Fun Fact: Did you know that horses will actually shed off a part of their frog periodically? This is kind of like how us humans shed off our dead skin.

If you don’t know what a frog looks like, this visual might help:

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (3)

Point Of Frog

The point of the frog is, well, the pointed end of the frog that falls in the middle of the hoof. When a horse sheds off its frog, the point of the frog is actually the first part of the frog to start to come off.

(Video) Anatomy of the Horse's Hoof, part one, provided by eXtension

The point of the frog offers cushion all the way in the middle of the horse’s hoof which is extremely helpful for top-level competition horses who need the cushion to help support themselves as they do their intense job. The point of the frog is also a helpful indicator as to where you need to pick out the hoof. When cleaning the hoof you can use this part to see where you need to use the pick: on either side of the frog starting next to the point of the frog.

If you can identify the frog, the point of the frog is easy to see. The point of the frog is just the pointed end of the frog. This visual may help you to identify it:

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (4)

Cleft Of Frog

The cleft of the frog is one of the hoof parts that can be harder to identify. The cleft is just the slight groove in the upper middle part of the frog.

This part of the hoof can be identified by both its location and shape.

Because this isn’t a very well known hoof part, the following image should better be able to show where and what this part is:

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (5)

Sole

The sole of the hoof is the large flat portion of the underside of the hoof. The sole is hard and smooth and is seen on the entire part of the hoof’s underside other than where the frog is.

The sole, if the horse is being ridden over rocks or other sharp, rough terrain, is often prone to bruising. My horses actually often suffered this, especially after trail rides, as the ground in my area is extremely hard and rocky.

The sole is usually white in color regardless of the color of the horse, and a hoof knife is used to shorten and level the sole when new shoes and/or trimming is due.

The sole of the horse’s hoof is one of the main places where hoof abscesses can form. These can form through damage from rocks or other sharp objects, the farrier driving a hot nail, or if the horse is suffering from an extreme case of laminitis.

(Video) Horse Terminology: Learn the Parts of the Horse

This part of the hoof extends to the white line near the hoof wall.

In the image below, the sole of the hoof is outlined so you can better seen and identify it.

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (6)

Hoof Wall

The hoof wall is actually a part of the hoof that not only shows on the underside of the hoof, but it also stretches up to encase the entire front and outside of the hoof.

The hoof wall is hard and strong and protects the more sensitive parts of the hoof from injuries by absorbing much of the shock. Think of the hoof wall as hoof armor. Without the hoof wall, the hoof would not be hard or protected at all and lameness issues would be so much more common than they are now.

It is through the hoof wall that a farrier will drive nails to hold a shoe in place. Some people worry that this might hurt the horse, but because the hoof wall is hard and without nerves, no pain is felt from the nails. The only time a horse will feel pain from the nails holding their show on is if the farrier drives a hot nail. A hot nail is where the nail is hit too close to the inside of the hoof and pierces sensitive tissue causing lameness and potential infection and abscess formation.

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (7)

White Line

The white line of the hoof is only visible on the underside of the hoof. If the horse is wearing shoes, the white line will actually be covered and not visible at all. The white line is called the white line because it is a lighter colored line as compared to the hoof wall or any other part of the hoof.

The white line is known to have some complications if not taken care of properly. One of these things is something known as thrush which is a common issue seen not just in the white line, but all over the hoof. Another issue seen in this part of the hoof is something known as white line disease. This disease causes the separation of the hoof wall from the hoof at the white line.

The white line is found just along the hoof wall in between the wall and the sole.

This image might help demostrate where this part of the hoof is.

(Video) How Horse Hooves Are Deep Cleaned | Deep Cleaned | Insider

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (8)

Lateral Sulci

The lateral sulci are well-known parts of the foot, but not many people know what these are called. There are two lateral sucli, one on the left and one on the right of the frog. This is where most of the dirt, rocks, and manure build up in the foot, and it is also the most common place for thrush to occur.

When picking out a horse’s hooves, this is the main part of the hoof that is cleaned out.

The lateral sulci are on each side of the frog, and dip deep into the hoof by about one centimetre to a half of an inch.

Though some may understand what I am talking about, this image should help you get the idea of what I am trying to say:

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (9)

Central Sulcus

The central sulcus can also get dirt, rocks, and other build up inside of it, though this isn’t very common. This sulcus falls at the back of the hoof behind the cleft of the frog and in between the bulbs of the heel.

This part of the hoof isn’t really known to well and, to be honest, I didn’t even know this part of the hoof had a name until I began researching for this article!

This image will help to show you where it is on the horse:

What Are All The Different Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof? A Detailed Guide | Insider Horse (10)

Internal Parts Of The Horse’s Hoof

Not only are there a ton of different parts of the hoof on the outside, but there are also numerous on the inside as well. The hoof is made up and moved by several different bones and tendons.

FAQs

How many hoofs are there in horse? ›

Farriers will confirm that the quality of the hoof is not affected by its color; all four hooves on a horse are structurally designed the same. The hoof wall is an inflexible surface and cannot expand when an injury causes the tissues inside to swell.

What is one of the most important structures of the horses hooves? ›

The coronary band is the primary source of growth and nutrition for most of the hoof wall. Injuries to this structure are serious and usually leave a permanent defect in the wall as it grows. The laminar corium consists of laminae engorged with blood vessels.

What part of the hoof can a horse feel? ›

Horse hooves encompass several structures, including some that have nerves and feelings. However, the hoof's outer wall, the location horseshoes are attached is void of nerves and feelings; in fact, it's made of keratin similar to a human toenail.

What is the inside of a horse's hoof called? ›

Internal structures

The corium, a dermo-epidermal, highly vascularized and innervated layer between the wall and the coffin bone, has a parallel, laminar shape, and is named the laminae. The laminar connection has a key role in the strength and health of the hoof.

What are the parts of a horse's hoof? ›

A horse's hoof is composed of the wall, sole and frog. The wall is simply that part of the hoof that is visible when the horse is standing. It covers the front and sides of the third phalanx, or coffin bone. The wall is made up of the toe (front), quarters (sides) and heel.

Which digit does a horse walk on? ›

Horses and rhinoceroses are odd-toed: in fact, horses have only 1 toe on each foot, but scientists figured out that thousands of years ago, horses had 5 toes inside each hoof!

What is the white part of a horse's hoof called? ›

The sole is the area inside the white line, but not including the bars and frog. It's primary function is to protect the sensitive structures beneath the sole. However, the outer perimeter of sole around the toe also provides support, sharing some of the weight of the horse with the hoof wall.

What are the functions of hoof? ›

Hooves perform many functions, including supporting the weight of the animal, dissipating the energy impact as the hooves strike the ground or surface, protecting the tissues and bone within the hoof capsule, and providing traction for the animal.

Why is it called a frog on a horse's hoof? ›

In German, the bottom of a horse's hoof is called the “frosch.” The “frog” of a horse hoof is a small area toward the rear of the hoof that acts as a shock absorber. Since a bow's frog is located at the bottom of the bow and also acts a shock absorber, this may be the reason for its name.

What is the most sensitive part of a horse? ›

The nose, lips, mouth, and possibly the ears are the most sensitive areas to touch. Although hooves do not respond to touching, various parts of the hoof are able to feel touch. Understanding the degree to which horses are sensitive to touch can be valuable to the trainer.

What is the horn on a horses hoof? ›

The keratin in the epidermis, when thickened and cornified, is referred to as horn. Horn makes up the outer surface if the hoof and is particularly resistant to mechanical and chemical damage. Each epidermal region of the hoof is associated with a dermal region (corium).

Why do farriers burn the hoof? ›

The purpose is to create a smooth interface surface between the hoof and the shoe and to seal the cut horn tubules, making them less likely to dry out in a dry climate or take on moisture and soften in a wet environment.

What is the back of a horse foot called? ›

The frog is a part of a horse hoof, located on the underside, which should touch the ground if the horse is standing on soft footing. The frog is triangular in shape, and extends midway from the heels toward the toe, covering around 25% of the bottom of the hoof.

What is the frog of a hoof? ›

The frog is an essential component of your horse's hoof. It can be easily identified by its V-shape. It consists of spongy, elastic tissue, demarcated by a central groove and two collateral grooves. Underneath the frog is the digital cushion, also known as the plantar cushion.

Is a horse hoof a nail? ›

The hoof itself is made up of the same stuff as your fingernail, called keratin. However, the hoof has a soft and tender inner part called the frog (circled in the picture above) that can be injured.

What are the quarters of a hoof? ›

The quarter is the area between the heel and the toe. The point of the frog is in this area as well. The toe is the front of the hoof where the wall and sole are often thickest.

Is Jello made from horse hooves? ›

The collagen is then dried, ground into a powder, and sifted to make gelatin. While it's often rumored that jello is made from horse or cow hooves, this is incorrect. The hooves of these animals are primarily made up of keratin — a protein that can't be made into gelatin.

What does a horse have that no other animal has? ›

Animals in the genus Equus, which includes zebras, horses and donkeys, have an unusual claim to fame: They are the only living group of animals with just one toe.

Does a trotting horse lift all four legs off ground? ›

Until the 1870s, no one was sure whether all the hooves of a trotting horse left the ground at the same time. Look closely at the fifth frame of this Eadweard Muybridge sequence and you can see that all four legs are indeed off the ground at once.

Why did horses lose their toes? ›

As horses' legs grew longer, the extra toes at the end of the limb would have been “like wearing weights around your ankles,” McHorse says. Shedding those toes could have helped early horses save energy, allowing them to travel farther and faster, she says.

What does 4 white socks mean on a horse? ›

One white foot—buy him. Two white feet—try him. Three white feet—look well about him. Four white feet—go without him. For some, this saying reinforces the idea that horses with white (versus black) hooves are more prone to hoof troubles.

Where is the horn of the hoof? ›

Hoof wall: The hard outer layer of the hoof, similar to a human fingernail, can also be called the hoof horn. Horn: Another name for the hard, outer covering of the hoof, also known as the hoof wall.

What is the water line on the hoof? ›

The Water Line: The water line is the inner hoof wall that has no pigmentation. It helps support the function of the hoof. The White Line: The white line, also known as the laminae, is the white-colored line on the inner hoof. It connects the walls to the bone to help provide support and protect the sole.

What is the difference between a hoof and a claw? ›

claw: the nail and the hoof. A nail is a broad, flat claw on the upper surface of the digit. It is present in mammals, such as primates, that use their appendages for grasping. A hoof is a short, thick structure that surrounds the end of the digit.

What is the function for horse leg hoof? ›

These structures allow the hoof to perform many functions. It acts as a support and traction point, shock absorber and system for pumping blood back through the lower limb.

Is a hoof like a fingernail? ›

Horse hooves are sort of like your fingernails. You have to trim your nails so they don't get too long. Farriers have to trim a horse's hooves so they don't grow too long and get injured. Horses should also eat healthy foods!

Can a horse's frog come off? ›

You notice that your horse's frog seems to be peeling or hanging off. Is this normal? In most cases, the frog sheds several times a year. Excess frog is typically removed by your farrier when they trim the hoof, so you may not notice this normal cycle.

Does trimming the frog hurt the horse? ›

Farrier Takeaways

A healthy frog can help farriers balance the foot. Trimming the frog to match the smooth dermal frog will improve function. A thick, big-bellied knife gets closer to sensitive structures and can cause hemorrhaging. Clean out the frog, but be conservative and avoid over trimming.

Why do farriers cut the frog? ›

A piece of frog that is trimmed away from the horse dries out after 2 or 3 days and becomes more rigid. The high moisture content of the frog (approximately 50%) allows for a spongy cushion that helps reduce concussion as the horse's foot comes into contact with the ground.

Where do horses not like to be touched? ›

How Do Horses Like to be Touched? Horses prefer to be rubbed and stroked over being tickled or slapped, and they often don't want rubbing on sensitive areas like the flank, girth, belly, nose, ears, and legs.

Where do horses like to be touched? ›

They are strong and would rub or pull on each other strongly. 4- Many horses like to be rubbed on the neck, shoulder, hip, or on the chest. Some horses enjoy having their heads and ears rubbed. Horses often groom each other on the whither, so this would be a good place to try too.

Do horses remember you? ›

Horses not only remember people who have treated them well, they also understand words better than expected, research shows. Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study.

Why do horses need shoes but not cows? ›

Why Do Horses Need Shoes But Not Cows? Cows don't need shoes because, unlike horses, they are rarely subjected to vigorous physical activities. Some horses are regularly exposed to a wide variety of surfaces – rough, moist, uneven – and to maintain hoof integrity, it may be necessary to put shoes on such hooves.

What is a horse's flank? ›

The slightly indented area behind the area of the barrel is the flank. This is the area you watch to count your horse's respiration. If the flank appears unusually sunken this can mean your horse is dehydrated.

Does a donkey have a split hoof? ›

Their hooves are constantly growing, and they support the entire weight of a donkey's body, so if left unmaintained, they can split or get too long causing uneven strides and soreness.

Is it better to hot shoe a horse? ›

When horseshoes are hot fit, they make a perfect fit between hoof and a shoe. No matter how good you have it cold, it can always be better. Hot fitting will sear the foot, sealing any moisture and killing bacteria. On the flip side, you can't do those modifications with cold shoeing.

What is the proper way to shoe a horse? ›

How to shoe a horse with Brice Chapman - Just Ranchin 9 - YouTube

How often do horses need new shoes? ›

As a rule of thumb, you should plan to have the farrier reset your horse's shoes approximately every six weeks. There are a number of signs you can look for that your horse's shoes need to be reset: Loose nails that push up from the hoof wall.

What is hoof canker? ›

What is canker? Canker is now rarely seen but is a serious infection of the horn of the foot, that results in the formation of a soft, moist, disintegrating growth of horn. It most commonly affects the hind feet and is most often seen in horses kept in wet tropical climates, or in large draught type horses.

What is coffin joint on a horse? ›

The coffin joint lies between the second and third phalanges of each limb. The joint space is located under the interface of the hoof and haired skin on the limb (coronet band). Horses with coffin joint pain present with a wide range of symptoms: from acute lameness to poor athletic performance.

What is the skin of a horse called? ›

Epidermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of skin, which is composed of several layers of cells. It provides a barrier of protection from foreign substances. The epidermis is thickest in large animals like horses.

What is chestnut peeling on a horse? ›

Chestnuts are believed to be remnants of an extra toe lost through evolution. They are flat and crusty areas devoid of hair. Ergots are callous growths located at the bottom of the horse's fetlock, often covered by hair. Chestnuts and ergots are, for the most part, cosmetic and typically require very little attention.

Why is my horses frog peeling off? ›

Equine hooves typically get plenty of moisture in the spring. As a result, the horn that emerges is very pliant and relatively soft. In the summer, drier conditions stimulate the growth of much harder, denser horn. The zone between the soft and hard growth eventually causes the frogs and soles to crack and peel.

What is thrush in horses? ›

Thrush is an infection of the central and lateral sulcus of the frog of the horse's foot, most often involving bacterial infection, occasionally fungal infection.

Do horses sleep standing up? ›

Horses have an amazing ability to be able to sleep standing up. But they do also sleep lying down. If you're a horse, you need to be able to do both.

Why do wild horses not need horseshoes? ›

Why Do Wild Horses Not Need Shoes? Wild horses don't need shoes; the main reason is that they move a lot, running long distances, and the running wears down their hooves. Plus, they don't have the need to walk on roads or concrete-like domestic horses.

Is a hoof a toenail? ›

A hoof is really just a modified toenail. Hooves, claws, and nails are all composed of two structures: the unguis (a scale-like plate; our finger- and toe-nails) and the subunguis (a softer layer, found as a very fine layer on the underside of our fingernails) which connect the unguis to the pad of the digit.

Is a hoof a foot? ›

When we talk about hooves, we picture the entire anatomy of a horse's foot. However, the hoof is only one part of the larger anatomy. There are many parts of a horse's foot anatomy, including: Periople: The periople covers the coronary band at the top of the hoof structure where the hoof meets the coat.

Which is correct hoofs or hooves? ›

Nouns that take an S or ES to become plural are called regular nouns and nouns that become plural some other way are called irregular nouns. So hoofs is a regular plural and hooves is an irregular plural.

Which animal has a hoof? ›

Artiodactyl, any member of the mammalian order Artiodactyla, or even-toed ungulates, which includes the pigs, peccaries, hippopotamuses, camels, chevrotains, deer, giraffes, pronghorn, antelopes, sheep, goats, and cattle.

Is a horse hoof a nail? ›

The hoof itself is made up of the same stuff as your fingernail, called keratin. However, the hoof has a soft and tender inner part called the frog (circled in the picture above) that can be injured.

What is the white part of a horse's hoof called? ›

The sole is the area inside the white line, but not including the bars and frog. It's primary function is to protect the sensitive structures beneath the sole. However, the outer perimeter of sole around the toe also provides support, sharing some of the weight of the horse with the hoof wall.

What is the difference between a split hoof and a cloven hoof? ›

A cloven hoof is also commonly referred to as a split hoof, cleft hoof or divided hoof. This type of hoof is split into two toes, also known as even-toed. Only ungulates of the mammalian order Artiodactyla have this hoof style. Typically, the cloven hoof includes two primary hooves on each leg.

What is the horn on a horses foot? ›

The keratin in the epidermis, when thickened and cornified, is referred to as horn. Horn makes up the outer surface if the hoof and is particularly resistant to mechanical and chemical damage. Each epidermal region of the hoof is associated with a dermal region (corium).

What is the number of hoof? ›

The Quick Answer

The plural of hoof is hoofs or hooves.

What do you call more than one hoof? ›

plural hooves\ ˈhüvz , ˈhu̇vz \ also hoofs.

What is the plural for wife? ›

The standard plural is wives.

Why are there no hoofed predators? ›

Why Are There No Predators With Hooves? - YouTube

Why are hoofed animals unclean? ›

According to these, anything that "chews the cud" and has a completely split hoof is ritually clean, but those animals that only chew the cud or only have cloven hooves are unclean. Both documents explicitly list four animals as being ritually impure: The camel, for chewing the cud without its hooves being divided.

Are deer closer to cows or horses? ›

Both are ungulates (hooved animals). Deer have two toes, horses have five toes. Deer are ruminants, horses are not.
...
What Are The Differences Between A Deer And A Horse?
DeerHorse
PhylumChordataChordata
ClassMammaliaMammalia
OrderArtiodactylaPerissodactyla
FamilyCervidaeEquidae
2 more rows
16 Feb 2022

Do horses sleep standing up? ›

Horses have an amazing ability to be able to sleep standing up. But they do also sleep lying down. If you're a horse, you need to be able to do both.

Why do farriers burn the hoof? ›

The purpose is to create a smooth interface surface between the hoof and the shoe and to seal the cut horn tubules, making them less likely to dry out in a dry climate or take on moisture and soften in a wet environment.

Why is it called a frog on a horse's hoof? ›

In German, the bottom of a horse's hoof is called the “frosch.” The “frog” of a horse hoof is a small area toward the rear of the hoof that acts as a shock absorber. Since a bow's frog is located at the bottom of the bow and also acts a shock absorber, this may be the reason for its name.

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