The hoof is a marvel of nature, a highly specified organ, which does a lot more than just carrying the hundreds of kilos of a horse.
The Mechanism of hoof
With the up-and down of the hoof, it changes its shape elastically. Coming down, the heels dilate, the coronet comes down, the sole flattens and ideally the frog contacts the ground.
This function is only limited possible for a shoed horse. The weight is borne by the edge of the horse shoe. The front part of the hoof has only a limited ability to move.
Hereby an increased movement in the area of the heels develops.
If a horse is shoed, an increasing deterioration of the heel walls and a reduced deterioration of the toes and the side walls can be observed.
The hoof as a pump
Through the mechanism of the hoof-the widening and contraction of the hoof capsule- not only the blood circulation is fostered. The blood is pumped back to the heart with every step. The extremities of horses are very long, that´s why the venous return is very difficult. The return flow is supported by the movement of hoof. That explains why the hooves are an important part of the circulation system. This function is also essential for the metabolism of our horses. The hoof mechanism is restricted by too little movement, the metabolic organs can finally suffer .
Putting weight on the hooves, enormous forces are absorbed by them. A large part of the bounce is already caught by the hoof mechanism. The vertical hoof mechanism helps the hoof to adapt to uneven surfaces.
Here you can see two small films about it
(Auffußen ohne Eisen)
(Auffußen mit Eisen)
Slide protection, temperature isolation and mechanical protection
The horn capsule offers a safe grip on any surface. Especially on a hard surface, bars, frog and the walls with the horn tubes being in a certain angle to the ground serve as a brake.
Furthermore, horn is used as temperature isolation. Like that the supply of the DermIS works even in extremely low temperatures.
The solid horn capsule protects the delicate parts of the inside from dampness, dry and hard soil. An ingress of foreign objects is made more difficult by a healthy horn capsule. Since new Horn is formed continuously, a protection of major abrasion on rough soils is maintained for a long time. The more the hoof is moved, the more horn growth is stimulated. Thus the hoof capsule gets ruggedized by uniform training.
To sum up, you can say healthy hooves are a good basis for a healthy horse. For healthy hooves habitat and housing conditions should be as close to nature as possible.