Horses were designed to land on the back of their foot.  The back portion of the hoof is equipped with an amazing support and shock absorbing system that is vital to their overall health and soundness, and is very often overlooked.

On a healthy hoof, the frogs are meant to be robust and wide, share the load of weight bearing and ground contact, and under which exists the digital cushion and lateral cartilages.  Dissections of wild horse feet have found dense, energy dissipating fibro-cartilage in the digital cushion, whereas on a typical domestic foot, the digital cushion consists of mostly fatty tissue.  Foals are born with this fatty tissue which is designed to support their couple-hundred pound build.  During their youth, the horse's constant movement through play, flight, grazing and foraging over a myriad of surfaces contributes to this fatty tissue becoming more dense and tough... and ultimately turning from fat into the dense fibro-cartilage which is much more suited to supporting a 1,000lb+ horse.  This is created through repetitive heel first landings and the hoof flexing horizontally as well as vertically with the heel bulbs moving independently as they traverse the terrain. 

Of course a horse will land on their toes from time to time, such as when moving up hill, or the occasional miss-step.  But the majority of landings are meant to be heel first!  A horse that lands the majority of time on their toes is doing this due to pain (unwilling to weight the back of the foot) or mechanical forces which nearly require a toe first landing (this can include the way they are being ridden!)...and which will ultimately cause atrophy (contraction) of the frog and internal structures and a total lack of development of these structures, which will cause pain and unwillingness to weight the back of the foot...  See the vicious circle?

Hopefully you can see that if only people would allow their horses to get a lot of healthy barefoot movement as babies, this would greatly help set them up for soundness throughout their lives! 

Example of the heels/rear of the horse's hoof being brought back into the equation:

Example of excessively high heels (very unhealthy) -- coming down to a much more natural and normal height:

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