top of page

The Wild Horse's Foot

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

2001 - 14th Annual Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium Notes

The Wild Horse's Foot

Written and presented January 2001 by R.F. (Ric) Redden, DVM

(If you would like to learn about adopting a wild horse or burro, click here.)

I envied individuals who had the opportunity to study the feet of wild horses. So in January 2000, I launched a very serious project designed to record the radiographic and gross anatomical data in regard to wild horse feet.

Project goals:

1. Determine if wild horse foals and weanlings develop PIII fractures along the parietal groove that are frequently found inlight breed domestic horses, especially Thoroughbred foals.

2. Develop a range of normal radiographic parameters; horn-lamellar zone, toe - heel angles, sole depth, palmar angle, relationship of the extensor process with the top of the hoof wall and digital breakover.

3. Record the incidence of club feet (all grades) in young and mature horses.

4. Establish a range of normal contrast pattern in the digit using a venogram.

5. Collect a significant number of foot molds for further study.

6. Record angular deformities.

To my knowledge there has been only one radiographic study on live wild horses. (ref. accomplished with a turn table chute).

The first group of horses was gathered just south of Las Vegas four days prior to my examination. Using Ketamine and Rompun to sedate the horses, foot molds were obtained and radiographs taken. Views include lateral, AP, and 65 degree DP views. With the assistance of Dr. Tom Hartgrove and the Bureau of Land Management, we were able to study eight individual cases. All were more than one year old, no pathological lesions were observed, and none presented with club feet or abnormal angular deformities. All were in good flesh, but they appeared thin compared to domestic standards. Regardless, they all seemed healthy and sound, with a superb protective attitude.

The following is a basic summary of the radiographic soft-tissue parameters:

1. Horn - lamellar zone range

(20/20 mm. - 25/25 mm., majority 25/25 mm.).

2. Sole depth (15 mm. average).