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Hoof Anatomy 101

Understanding basic hoof anatomy and their proper terms not only important for the farrier, but for the horse owner as well. Today we will take a short dive into the outer structures of the hoof.


The dorsal surface (think of a dolphins dorsal fin popping up out of the water) refers to the top, outer surface of a hoof and is comprised of the hoof wall and coronet or coronary band, periople and hair line. The caudal portion includes the heel bulbs.

The solar surface (think the soles of your feet) refers to the bottom (most distal) of the hoof. It is the part of the hoof that has contact with the ground. In barefoot trimming we rely on this solar contact to support the internal structures of the Hoof. The solar surface includes the sole, bars, frog (apex and central sulcus), white line and collateral grooves. The circumference of the hoof is divided into the toe, quarter and heel regions.

The bars, heels and hoof wall in conjuction with the sole share support of the internal structures of the hoof.


The frog and its internal structures, called the digital cushion, acts as a pump and shock absorber for the hoof. It is sturdy but soft in relation to the rest of the hoof. It dissipates the concussive forces of landing and pushes blood in and out of the hoof capsule.


The central sulcus is located in the frog near its center at the widest part. It should be narrow and shallow. It’s job is to add surface area to the frog and aid in further shock absorption.

The collateral grooves occupy the space between the bars and the frog.


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