It’s always fun explaining equine anatomy to newbie horse people—especially when it comes to the frog. Though many of us are accustomed to the odd name of this particular part of the hoof, we may not have given much thought to the purpose of it. What does the horse’s frog do anyway?
The answer: quite a bit!
The frog has a variety of important functions including shock absorption, blood flow, traction, protection, and also something known as proprioception (a personal awareness of where the feet and body are). Many of us probably don’t pay this hoof structure much attention unless something goes awry with it. However, the frog can tell us quite a bit about the overall health of the hoof.
With that said, here are five interesting facts about the horse’s frog:
1.) When a horse puts weight on any one foot and the frog makes contact with the ground, this helps to push blood back up the leg and toward the heart. Some types of shoes and overgrown heels can prevent this from happening and, as a result, decrease blood flow in the feet.
2.) Though it may vary by breed, a healthy frog should be somewhat plump and V-shaped. In fact, the fuller the frog, the healthier the hoof in most instances!
3.) A healthy frog is also the best form of traction for a horse. Since the texture of the frog is somewhat rubbery, you can compare it to a tire on a vehicle. Both are great for getting traction on hard and soft surfaces.
4.) If a frog is weak or infected, the horse may avoid bearing his full weight on the back of the foot. This can show up as lameness and affect other parts of the hoof as well (such as the digital cushion inside the hoof capsule).
5.) Vitamin and mineral deficiencies often show up in the health of the frog. Horses with these deficiencies (especially the trace minerals, copper and zinc) are also more prone to developing thrush.
Have you taken a good look at your horse’s frogs lately?
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