There are a few old myths and wives' tales that are still floating around the horseworld today about horses' hooves. I'm going to list a few to debunk and give reasons why the "old myths" are not acceptable.
MYTH #1: Laminitic -- walk him out of it.
TRUTH: forced exercise is one of the worst things you could do, because it increases the risk of permanent damage to the foot's supportive structures. Allow the horse to walk as he/she desires.
MYTH #2: Laminitis -- soak feet in ice water until the ice melts.
TRUTH: Ice water is a good way to defuse inflammation BUT ... it may do irreparable damage to the tissues that are already blood-deficient due to inflammation. Better to let the horse chose to stand in a cold stream or mud or snow if he/she chooses.
MYTH #3: White hooves are softer and have more problems than dark colored hooves.
TRUTH: There is no quality difference on the same horse, no scientific data to sustain any difference. The white and the black hoof are both designed the same structurally; the texture and quality of the hoof is the same. The color of the hoof is determined by the skin color above it.
MYTH #4: All horses need hoof supplements added to their feed.
TRUTH: Healthy hooves grow from the 'inside-out'. This means that the horse's diet is a large contributor to the health of the hooves. Husbandry, exercise and the terrain on which the horse moves also play a tremendous part in creating healthy (or not-so-healthy) hooves. Supplements are not needed if the horse is allowed to 'be a horse' as they are created.
MYTH #5: Horses get thrush from standing on wet ground.
TRUTH: No. Horses get thrush from the bacteria fusobacterium necrophorum that grows in the ground. A healthy horse with a strong immune system and healthy hooves that are tended properly will generally not get thrush simply from standing on wet ground. Proper cleaning and trimming of the feet along with proper stable management and diet will help decrease the chance of infection.
MYTH #6: if the coffin bone isn't rotated in his X-rays, it's not laminitis.
TRUTH: This is false as rotation occurs in the 3rd stage of Laminitis. It is a result of unresolved Laminitis. Its presence confirms the diagnosis, but its absence doesn't negate it.
MYTH #7: Hoof oils help seal in moisture.
TRUTH: It is better to use hoof dressings around the coronary band than to slather it all over the horn. The natural hoof is covered by periople ... a thin, protective tissue. Natural, wild horses will stand in watering holes every day at least once or twice a day. This is sufficient for providing extra moisture to dry hooves. Again, healthy hooves grow from the inside-out so expensive hoof dressings are really nothing more than a waste of money.
MYTH #8: A piece of gravel can work its way up from the bottom of the hoof through the coronary band.
TRUTH: Although the 'condition' called "gravel" sounds as if sand or gravel will work its way up the hoof wall to the coronary band, this is not what really happens. An abscess will seek the path of least resistance and sometimes, instead of breaking out on the sole will travel and vent at the coronary band where the infection drains out. It is not, however, literally a piece of gravel working its way up the hoof.
MYTH# 9: Barefoot horses need farrier attention less often than shod horses.
TRUTH: Not true! It depends on the individual horse. The general consensus is the hooves should be trimmed every 4 - 5 weeks BUT .. that's dependent upon how much the horse moves, exercises, what the diet it etc. Some CAN go for months without trimming as they keep themselves well trimmed; others may need every 2 or 3 weeks for a particular situation such as LTLH (Long toe; low heel).
MYTH #10: If you put a footsore horse in shoes he’ll come sound.
TRUTH: Again .. not true! Shoes may hide soreness for awhile but even when shod the TRIM of the hooves is the paramount feature. An imbalanced hoof in shoes will cause issues even MORE than barefooted horses that have imbalanced hooves. Soreness is a 'symptom' of something going on in the hoof that needs to be assessed and remediated. Letting the horse be barefoot with a good, CORRECT trim will almost guarantee return to soundness.
Well, there's 10 Myths and Old Wives' Tales for ya. Can you think of any others? If so, just leave a comment and we'll yak about it!