How Did Horses Survive Without Hoof Trimming In Wild? (Quick Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 10/26/22 •  9 min read

If you own a horse, you probably have a trained farrier who comes to check up on your horse and trim the hooves regularly. Hoof trimming is essential to prevent overgrown hooves, splitting, cracking, and other hoof disorders.

Trimming horses’ hooves began when humans started domesticating horses. But have you ever asked yourself how did horses survive without hoof trimming in the wild?

Well, let me explain!

Wild horses don’t have access to the same hoof maintenance that domestic horses do, so they rely on nature to keep their hooves in check. They do this by walking for extended periods on rough terrain or abrasive surfaces, which naturally wears their hooves down and eliminates the need for trimming.

For more details, I will help you understand the difference between the hooves of wild horses and domesticated horses. I will also take you through why hoof trimming is essential for your horse’s well-being.

Let’s get started!

Can a horse survive without a hoof?

Yes, a horse can survive without a hoof.

You’ve probably heard the saying “no hoof, no horse.”

What does this mean to you?

The importance of horse hooves cannot be underestimated. Horses need four legs and four hooves to survive. While animals like dogs and cats can survive on three legs, horses are huge animals that need equal support on all four sides.

So, what happens when a horse loses one of its hoofs? Can a horse survive without a hoof?

Your horse can lose a hoof because of conditions like laminitis where the hoof capsule can detach, get loose, and then fall off.

Your horse can survive without a hoof but it has to regrow. It can take up to one year for the hoof to regrow completely. Horse owners should provide intense care during this period for the best results in their horse’s foot health.

Horses Survive Without Hoof Trimming

Why do wild horses not need their hooves cut?

Wild horses do not require their hooves cut because their hooves maintain themselves. They walk for long distances on rough surfaces, and this trims their hooves regularly. There are many reasons why wild horses maintain their hooves naturally unlike domesticated horses.

Let’s dig a little deeper!

More exercise

Unlike domestic horses, wild horses exercise more. While many domestic horses exercise outdoors or when on longer rides, the level of exercise cannot match that of wild horses. Wild horses cover several miles daily looking for food and water. Walking all day wears down their hooves, so they don’t require to be cut.

Lack of horseshoes

Many domesticated horses wear horseshoes to protect their hooves when riding. Wearing horseshoes reduces hoof wear, and that means frequent trimming. On the other hand, wild horses aren’t required to be shoed. Their hoof surfaces are exposed and hence wear out constantly.

Type of terrain

Wild horses travel on rougher and harsher and abrasive terrains. The rough terrains play a huge role in wearing the hooves naturally. Domestic horses mostly walk on softer terrains. Even though they might also walk on rougher terrains, it is not frequent like in wild horses.


Research also shows that wild horses do not require hoof trimming because their diet contains minerals that contribute to strong hooves that deal with constant wear. The diet for domestic horses contains fewer nutrients than for wild horses but some horse owners add supplements to their diet to boost their hoof health.

Natural hoof wear

The natural wear and tear on a horse’s hooves are critical to maintaining healthy hooves. It helps to promote good circulation and prevents problems such as overgrowth, uneven wear, and cracks or splits.


How did horses maintain their hooves before humans? 

The wild horse has little or no contact with man, and they live in the wild freely unlike domesticated horses. Since they don’t have a trained farrier to take care of their hooves, in the wild, they move up to 60 km per day on different terrains.

Frequent running and moving around makes their hooves wear out naturally. This leads to hard and healthy hooves for a wild horse. The constant movement wears their hooves down at the rate of their growth so the hooves never grow too big. Since wild horses are not engaged in activities like domesticated horses, they don’t need hoof trimming or horseshoes.

When did humans start putting shoes on horses?

Putting horseshoes on horses is dated back to 400 BC. When humans started domesticating horses, the popularity of horseshoes began to grow. The first people to put horseshoes on horses were the Romans around 2500 BC.

The Romans were using horses for transportation and warfare. The main reason for putting horseshoes was to protect the horse’s feet. The earliest horseshoes were made of rawhide, plants, and leather straps called hippy sandals.

In Ancient Asia, some types of hipposandals were made from woven plants to soothe the horse’s feet. Northern Europeans started making their horseshoes from metal to give horses better traction on slippery terrains. Metal horseshoes are used up to date, and they are nailed on the horse’s hooves.

Today, domesticated horses require horseshoes for hoof care, improving performance, and preventing injuries.

See also: If your horse is bleeding from their hoof after a trim, there are several possible causes. This article covers the most common causes and offers prevention tips.

What happens if a horse’s hooves are not trimmed?   

Trimming horse hooves is an essential part of horse care to prevent a weaker hoof and promote general hoof health. A horse owner should ensure a domesticated horse undergoes regular hoof trimming after 4-6 weeks and the process should be done by a trained farrier.

Unlike wild horses that maintain natural hoof care, domesticated horses require regular hoof care to ensure the hooves are in good condition. domesticated horses are kept in confined places, and their hoof growth outdoes the rate at which they can wear on their own.

Hooves grow quickly if you don’t do proper horse care. That is why regular trimming is necessary to avoid serious health conditions for your horse. So, what happens if you don’t trim your horse’s hooves?

Let me explain!

First, horses with untrimmed hooves end up with overgrown hooves. Untrimmed horse hooves can flare, chip, or develop other hoof conditions. The hooves can also crack or make your horse develop lameness.

And it doesn’t stop there! Below are other negative effects of neglecting to trim your horse’s hooves.

Divider horseshoe

How long can a horse go without a hoof trim?

Trimming horses’ hooves regularly is crucial to keep them healthy and balanced. Hooves play an integral part in the overall health of the horse because they aid in circulation and weight distribution.

It is recommended to trim a horse’s hooves every 4-6 weeks. However, since all horses are not the same, this time frame can vary depending on the individual horse’s needs. Some horses may require more frequent trimming than others, so it is important to pay attention to the hoof health of your horse and adjust the trimming schedule as necessary.

Other factors that determine how long a horse can go without trimming include the terrain, seasons, and whether you have barefoot horses or not.

Did you know that horses’ hooves grow faster during warmer seasons and slower during winter? During summer, frequent trimming is essential after 4-6 weeks. In the winter seasons, you can trim the hooves every 6-10 weeks.

Barefoot horses on rough terrains can stay longer (twice a year) before visiting a farrier because the rough terrain wears their hooves out. Horses with shoes require a regular re-shod (4-6 weeks) on their feet.

See also: Looking for an all-natural way to care for your horse’s cracked hooves? Check out these 9 surprising home remedies!

How do you know your horse requires trimming?

Several things can help you determine when your horse requires a foot trim. For instance, if the hoof is too long, you will notice a change in the hoof’s natural shape. A horse owner should check horse hooves daily to notice differences in the shape of the hoof.

You can also tell your horse needs trimming by checking the outside of the hoof. There should be a straight line where the hoof runs from the toe to the coronet band. If the line is bent or has a dip, this is a sign of overgrown hooves.

Lastly, you can check the hoof angle compared to the entire body and see if it is short or too long. A correct angle is when you draw a straight line starting from the coronet band right to the elbow of your horse. Overgrown hooves make the angle off, and the straight line goes on the lower part of the leg.

How did native Americans shoe their horses?

Shoeing horses started when horses were domesticated to help humans in their work. Native Americans put on horseshoes to protect their hooves. They made horseshoes from hides and knotted them on the feet of their horses. Those who had many horses would ride some and let the others rest and grow their hooves.

See also: Do you want to know if human pregnancy tests work on horses? We’ll tell you everything you need to know in this article!


At this point, I believe you understand how wild horses survive without hoof trimming, and how they maintain their hooves. All wild animals with hooves take care of their hooves naturally, and wild horses are not an exemption.

Wild horses travel in herds over long distances and the abrasive surfaces trim their hooves naturally. That is why they don’t need a farrier to trim their hooves regularly like domestic horses.

Domestic horses require regular hoof trimming to prevent different hoof defects and other injuries that can compromise their daily performance.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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