Holistic Hoof Treatment (Abridged)
by Dr. Hiltrud Strasser

Sources of knowledge and references:

- Studied with Professor Ruthe, formerly of the Humboldt University of Berlin - research from worldwide sources, both old and new, who presented findings on the subject (ex. Xenophon, Clark, Pollitt, Jackson, Wrangel, Spohr, Blendinger, Bein, Alexander, Zierold, to name a few) – experience with own horses that the unshod hoof is able to withstand any reasonable use of horse led to experimental treatment of lameness through restoration of the natural hoof shape, which met with resounding success


Diseases of domestic horses have three main causes:

1. lack of sufficient movement

2. Poor air quality in stables

3. Shoeing and improper trimming

Experience has proven that nearly all diseases of the motion apparatus can be cured or significantly improved in a matter of weeks or months, once the above-listed causes are removed.


The shape of the hoof has evolved through millions of years of natural living, and is quite capable of meeting any demands in that natural environment. Horses with lameness problems originating in the hoof have deformed feet (by years of shoeing or improper trimming) and these are no longer able to function properly, or only with pain. The first step, therefore, is to free the hoof of the shoe, and restore its natural shape through frequent trimming (up to several times a week).

"Natural shape" means the shape that free-living horses' feet have, which remain sound without the aid of man. Only in this form can the hoof carry out its essential functions, which are:

1. Secure footing on all terrain

2. Shock absorption

3. Circulatory pump

Such a natural hoof has the following characteristics: - front foot about 45 degrees, hind about 55 - when seen from the front, the width of the coronet band is comparable to the height of the hoof from toe to coronet band (varies slightly with Warmblood, draft, donkey, etc.) - when seen from the side (or front), the base of the hoof is wider than the coronet band - when seen from the side, the coronet band should be a smooth, straight line lowest at the heel - the frog must be as wide as the heel at the heel, otherwise the foot is contracted and will contract instead of expand during the weightbearing phase of each step - the wall at the heel must be the same height as the bulb; any protrusion of the wall here results in the bars being levered into the interior of the hoof; bars should be shorter, not on the same level as the wall during the non-weightbearing phase of a step

Any deviation from this shape causes strains, tears or bruising of the living tissue inside the hoof.

The return to the natural hoof form takes place while the hoof is growing, and is restricted to the speed at which this takes place. Daily hoof baths support the rehabilitation process by keeping the horn elastic; movement in and by the herd assures constant circulation and as such horn growth and healing.

Dr. Strasser's hoof clinic has areas with rubber mats as flooring, for those horses unable to walk on hard ground during the first part of rehabilitation. Passive exercises such as TTouch, acupuncture massage, etc. support the healing; homeopathic substances are also used at times.

The goal of treatment is the full return of the horse to a normal workload without any relapses to lameness. Age is a factor to a point, since older horses heal more slowly and have also been subjected to the damaging factors (shoeing, etc.) much longer.

Copyright Dr. vet. med. H. Strasser
Blaihofstr. 42/1, 72074 Tuebingen, Germany
Tel/Fax: (011) 49-7071-87572
Ed. & Canadian contact: Sabine Kells at email: textorder @ shaw.ca

©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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