QUESTION: There's an old adage that white hooves are weaker than dark hoof material. Is there any truth to this?
DR. SCOTT FLEMING: The topic of hoof color and its corresponding hoof quality has been a common conversation topic amongst my clientele for 20 years of shoeing horses. Prior to being a farrier, I had often heard this theory around horsemen while growing up.
As farriers, we treat horses as having four individual feet that are shod to their particular hoof conformation, the limb conformation above them that influences their shape and limb gait, and the horse's discipline that may have varying requirements. With so many factors involved, it is common to have a pair of hooves that don't seem to match in health, shape, or quality. It has also been said that solid hooves, be them white or black are better than mixed colored hooves where you have a stripe of black in a predominantly white hoof or vice versa. Ultimately, however, the pigmentation of that hoof has no known or proven influence on quality or toughness vs another hoof of a different color on the same horse.
There have been many studies over the last 50 years looking into the relationship between color and quality. Many factors and approaches have been looked at, including but certainly not limited to, measuring hoof wall elasticity under varying
Lastly, the relationship between how much force was exerted to pull horseshoe nails from the wall of different colored hooves was performed. It was found that no significant difference was established between dark and light hooves, and in theory, there should be no difference in shoe retention among different colored hooves on the same horse due to color alone.
As mentioned earlier, we often see horses that seem to have a hoof that isn't as good as the opposite regarding shoe retention, overall health, or hoof shape. These hooves are often different colors, but the many internal and external factors affecting these traits play a bigger role than their color.
Scott Fleming, originally from Northeast Texas, grew up riding Western performance Quarter Horses and working with cattle. Upon graduating from high school, Fleming attended farrier school and maintained a quarter horse centric farrier business in Northeast and central Texas until moving to Lexington. He also served in the Marine Corps Infantry for four years.
Fleming graduated from veterinary school at Texas A&M University in 2013. He then completed an internship at Rood & Riddle in 2013-2014, continued at the hospital as a fellow, and is currently an associate veterinarian at Rood & Riddle.
Outside of Rood & Riddle, Fleming enjoys spending time on the farm with his wife, Tina and their two children, Callie and Case . A special interest for Dr. Fleming is participating in Equitarian Initiative trips to Central America to help working equids in the region.
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