Remember - even though the information that I'm going to post is based on barefoot research - a hoof is a hoof and this knowledge applies even if you put shoes on your horse.
I'm going to start with what the optimal hoof shape is supposed to be:
Front hooves are supposed to be round.
They should NOT be oblong.
Hind hooves are shaped like a spade.
They should NOT be round.
Once again,not a great foot as far as the frog and bars go, but her hoof shape is pretty spot on. When you think about how horses are supposed to move, essentially by rear-wheel drive, it makes sense that the hind hooves should be shaped this way. They need a bit of extra traction to get the horse moving. Hind hooves should not be rounded off to look like front feet.
Now I know what you might be thinking, "Shannon how could you possibly make a generalization like this? I've seen plenty of different shaped hooves and they work just fine." My reply is that the proof is in the coffin bone.
The top bone in the photo is from a front foot, the bottom is from a hind. See how the top one is basically round and the bottom one is spade shaped? (They are shaped like half moons because the back of the foot is shaped by soft tissue, not bone.) Since the hoof wall grows around these bones doesn't it make sense that it should mirror the shape of the bones?
Need more examples? How about these specimens of front coffin bones?
|photo from ABC Hoofcare|
What about your horses? What are their hooves shaped like?