Horse Movement in the Nature
Movement in the wild, versus the domesticated horse movement in confined areas and at work.

     Unfortunately this is again one of the many ignored facts by today’s horsemen, veterinarians and farriers. This of course results in such expressions as “the natural angle”, “the natural break-over”, or “the natural trim” and others. In the last decade the theories derived form the wild horse movement are becoming widely spread, as well as their negative influence on the working horse. Many negative results produced by such theories are present in today’s farriery, veterinary and general horsemanship, and are responsible for various injuries to horses.

Picture fairly depicts the movement activities of horses in the wild or on large pastures or steppes

      In the nature and in his free life, the horse is moving differently than in the confined environment or at his work. The wild horses spend most of their life looking for food, eating it or they just stand around with their heads low to the ground. Their main and most used gait is walk with their heads low to the ground. In most cases when they gallop or run, it is because of some danger that presented itself. The trot is not used as much as it is by the working horse, or the confined horse that may trot up and down the fence. Furthermore an emphasis must be placed on the very important fact that their movement, especially in higher gaits, is more or less in the straight line or very wide circles, depending on the terrain.

      Shortly said, they spend most of their life walking or standing around with their heads down, or in occasional moving in faster gaits, with their heads up and in more or less straight lines. Since the movement directly influences the growth and wearing of the hoof, the wild horses hoof is therefore somewhat different than by the domesticated horse in most breeding environments and working conditions. Horses bred on steppes or on large areas that are not fenced in, will have relatively similar movement as the wild horse, however, since they are often moved from one place to another by man, their movement is no longer natural.

Growing up behind a fence

     The fence will greatly alter the nature of a horse and it will mainly influence the young stock movement, thus it will have permanent effect on his growth and physical development (hoofs etc.). The “run and stop” (sharp turns) movement in the wild horse is very limited, because he has very seldom a need for it. The very young foal in the wild may use it more, when playing, to stay near his mother. As he will be getting older the need for “run and stop” (sharp turns) will slowly diminish to almost none. The fenced-in horse, especially the one, that is not out 24 per day and feels very much like running when turned out, will run at the fences in a high speeds, making sharp turns and stops. The same horse will more likely do more running in one day than the wild horse will do in one week.

The movement by the working horses differs significantly, depending on the type of movement that a specific work requires (standardbred, draft-horse etc.), especially by the riding horse (dressage, western-pleasure, racing, saddle-bred, etc.) Whether the riding horse moves in balance (artificial balance) or he is moving out of balance doesn’t matter, since his movement is greatly influenced by the rider's weight alone, thus is significantly altered from his free movement. (The understanding of the movement by the working horse will be a separate chapter on it’s own, because of its significance.) It is therefore illogical to use the wild horse movement as a base for the solution of problems in the working horse. 

Much altered natural movement. These horses walk very little and almost never gallop.

This type of illogical and senseless reasoning has lately influenced greatly the farrier industry, which can be seen in the latest publications of veterinarians and farriers who obviously forgot the main reason why we shoe horses. Unfortunately it is the horse that suffers the most on account of such stupid and idiotic publications.

     One should take from this article the following important fact, that the wild horse movement (thus the stress on his feet and limbs) is very much different from the domesticated working horse. Therefore, any theories implemented into the domestic use of horses that are based on wild horse movement come from people who have no idea what they are talking about. Shortly said, they are no horsemen.

     We shoe horses primarily for work, hence the type of work and the surface on which it is preformed will determine how the particular horse is shod and trimmed. I guess most of the “naturalist-theoretician” have excluded this simple fact, or they perceive the working animal (unnaturally altered) as a part of the nature’s design.

See more on the movement of riding horses on the “riding” page @ www.horsemanpro.com

Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a. Lee Stanek