how do wild horses trim their hooves

How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves

How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves

Hoof health is an important part of equine grooming, and it is important to clean the hoof, as well as trim them routinely to ensure they do not get overgrown. This may bring to mind the question of how wild horses are able to care for their hooves, and whether or not they need to have their hooves trimmed like our domestic horses do.

After all, there are no farriers out in the wilderness! Read on to learn more about how wild horses trim their hooves in their natural environment, without the help of a farrier. 

Importance of Trimming Hooves

Horses typically need to have their hooves trimmed down every 6 to 8 weeks.

This is done professionally by your horse’s farrier, and is not something expected of you as part of their daily grooming. It is so important to trim the hooves of your horse because, as domestic horses are kept in more confined spaces and are fed well, they will end up having hoof growth rates that then outpace the rate that they can wear them down naturally. 

If your horse’s hooves become overgrown, they can become damaged, which causes injury to your horse. Even if the overgrown hooves do not become damaged or cracked, they can still create a lot of pain and discomfort for your horse when trying to move around. Overgrown hooves can also inhibit their range of movement. 

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how do wild horses trim their hooves

How Do Wild Horses Trim Their Hooves

Now that you understand how important it is to trim a horse’s hooves, you may wonder how wild horses keep their hooves trimmed and in check. Wild horses do not have their hooves trimmed like our domestic horses do, where a farrier manually performs the task. Instead, their natural habitat helps to keep their hooves trimmed.

Wild horses do not have packed earth and flat ground like domestic horses are used to in the stables or the ring. They walk across varied and rough terrain each day, and this terrain is what works to naturally wear down and essentially trim the hoof of the wild horse.

They also walk great distances every day— for example, a zebra typically walks around 40 km in the wild— so this continued friction works to wear down the hooves, too. Wild horses have tougher hooves as well, which do not need shoeing or wearing down (also known as trimming).

Do Wild Horses Need to Trim Their Hooves

You may wonder if wild horses need to trim their hooves at all. Our domestic horses certainly need to! However, as we went over in some details above, wild horses do not need to manually trim their hooves in the way that domestic horses need to.

This is because wild horses trim down their hooves by walking in their natural habitats. Wild horses walk every day on varied terrain that naturally wears down the hoof so that it does not become overgrown. This negates the need for manual hoof trimming. Also, as mentioned above, wild horses walk long distances each day, which also helps. Our domestic horses often do not walk on the same terrains or move these same distances. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do wild horses get overgrown hooves?

Wild horses typically do not get overgrown hooves like our domestic horses can. You may wonder why this is, and it is in part due to the fact that wild horses are able to wear down their hooves in nature just by the terrain that they are walking on! Our domestic horses, however, do not spend as much time out on this kind of terrain, so their hooves have the potential to get overgrown, unlike the hooves of wild horses.

How do zebras trim their hooves in the wild?

Zebras and other breeds of wild horses are not able to trim their hooves in the wild like our domestic horses would— there is no visit to the farrier for these horses, that’s for sure! So how do they avoid their hooves getting overgrown, and how are they able to maintain their hooves without the help of a farrier to trim them? Zebras, when they are in the wild, will walk around 40 km every single day.

All of this walking on the natural terrains of the zebra’s habitat will provide natural wear to the animal’s hooves. However, if a zebra is in captivity, they will not be able to walk these same distances and would then need routine hoof trimmings to keep their hooves taken care of properly. 

Do horses enjoy hoof trimming?

When it comes to horses and hoof trimming, we all know how important hoof trimmings are for the overall health of your horse. If you do not trim the hooves of your horse, then they can become overgrown, which can be uncomfortable or even painful, and can hinder their movement and abilities. We know that hoof trimmings are necessary, but we may also wonder whether or not it is uncomfortable for our horses.

Luckily, most horses do like hoof trimmings or hoof picking. If they do not enjoy hoof trimmings, though, most horses are at least neutral to it and do not actively dislike it! This can make you feel better about when you need to schedule an appointment for your horse for a trimming with the farrier. 

How do wild horses groom themselves?

The grooming of our horses is a time-consuming and very important task. Brushing their coat and mane is something that is a daily requirement for most breeds to keep them happy and healthy, especially because horses are very intelligent and sensitive creatures. You may wonder, then, how wild horses groom themselves in the wild without our help! Wild horses typically engage in something called self-grooming.

Self-grooming is when horses rub on inanimate objects, nip, roll, and tail swish. Two horses may also engage in mutual grooming, where they stand parallel to each other and then groom by biting, licking, or pulling the mane, back, head, and hindquarters of their partner.