Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price
According to research from England, it takes almost a year for an adult horse’s hoof to grow. However, a young foal can easily replace his hoof wall in half the time.Foals can replace their entire hoof wall in 145 days. This is much faster than mature horses.
Simon Curtis is a farrier who is pursuing his master’s degree from the University of Central Lancashire. He tracked hoof-horn growth of 45 Thoroughbreds and charted the decline of the “foal crease,” visible growth ring that marks the hoof present at birth and the hoof that has grown since. Curtis explains that all hoof walls eventually reach the bearing border, and then lose attachment due to wear, breaking or rasping. “Foal hoof creases are evident in foals aged between 1 and 4 month.”
Every three weeks, the farrier trimmed the foals in the study. The farrier would take note of the distance between the coronary band and the foal crease at each visit. This was done until the crease was completely grown out. Data showed that the foals had replaced their entire hoof wall within 145 days, as opposed to the 270 to 365 day replacement period for mature horses.
Curtis says that rapid hoof growth can lead to problems quickly but also offers an opportunity for effective intervention. He says that with such rapid growth, any change in hoof shape can become permanent and require immediate trimming. “Most conformational problems in mature horses can be traced back into their early years. This is the right time to make corrections.
Curtis said that although this study was focused on Thoroughbreds only, he expected the results to be the same for other breeds. “The only published study on the hoof rate of newborn foals was done using six American Quarter Horse foals. Although it was a small sample, the results were similar to ours. Although growth rates can vary between breeds and environments, we believe our study of hoof renewal in Thoroughbred foals represents other breeds.
Curtis said that he is still trying to find the cause of such rapid hoof growth, but Curtis stated that he is interested in finding out the answer. This and other questions will be answered by our project, we believe.