This section is a short section .. while the function of the equine frogs are VITAL to healthy hooves, the care of them is quite simple.
In preparing hooves for shoes we often see the frogs cut into wedge shapes ... routinely.
Let's compare that to a healthy barefooted frog:
Wow .. what a difference! Which one do you think would serve the equine hoof better in terms of shock absorption and energy dispersion?
When we think about the fact that the frog's are 50% water for dispersing energy and absorbing shock, There's really no way we can justify carving and paring the frog away from a healthy hoof!
Sure, we trim off 'flaps' and such that harbor nasty bacteria and fungus, but to take a knife and 'carve' it into the shape we see in the first picture above?
It's no wonder there are so many tender-footed horses!
Let's take a look at the INSIDE of the foot to see the frog stay:
Can you see the 'fullness' of it? Why would we want to flatten out the frog, pare/knife it away? .. you can see how it would create thin spots that might cause discomfort.
Here is an almost perfect frog, as shown on horseadvice.com --
It is plain to see how this healthy frog thoroughly resembles the frog stay inside the hoof. Just a wee 'thumbprint' indent in the back of the frog; clean without any indications of bacterial or fungal infection and nicely shaped. Nice rear hoof, altogether!
Let's briefly outline some facts about equine frogs:
-- 50% water for shock absorption and energy dissipation
-- stimulates the digital cushion (also 50% water) for increased energy dissipation and shock absorption
-- provides a suction-like quality when the hoof is loaded for better footing on slippery surfaces
-- needs to be passive while horse is static and fully engaged while hoof is loaded fully in movement
-- should be large, strong and divide the sole evenly
-- apex should point directly to the center of the toe of the hoof
-- is comprised of tissue that is laid out similar to leaf springs in an automobile for full function
-- forms from the back of the hoof with approximately 2/3rds of the length of the hoof from heel to the toe
-- the frog corium, which is similar in structure to the sole corium, (see dissected photo above) furnishes nourishment and growth to the frog.
-- determines the width of the foot across the heels by creating a wedge between the flexible heels of the hoof capsule.
-- "Frogs are also apparently important to sole concavity, since flat feet do not regain concavity without the support of healthy frogs. No matter how good the trim, without adequate frog support, concavity cannot be reestablished. " (Heiki Bean)
-- provides mechanical support to the joints of the distal limb.
-- lack of healthy frog negatively affects the digital cushion that limits the descent of the coffin joint upon impact and during weight bearing -- inadequate support from these structures can allow the coffin joint to over-extend -- causing "inappropriate stresses on multiple structures in the distal limb, including joint capsules, cartilage, tendons and ligaments."
So, you can see why the health of the equine hoof frog is so important to the overall health of not only the hoof but the distal limb!
Frogs need to be well formed, strong, not pared away with a knife except for material that might harbor bacteria and fungus ... in other words, leave the frog alone, generally! A tad of 'cleaning up' might be necessary from time to time but as we're learning, healthy hooves do a very nice job of maintaining healthy balance given the correct parameters.