International Hoof Care Month is observed every year throughout February. This month draws attention to the importance of looking after animals’ hooves. The animals that have hooves cannot have a happy and healthy life when these parts of their legs are ailing. An ailing hoof may develop an infection that will cause the animal to start limping, have difficulty walking, and develop arthritis and other joint issues. This animal will also have problems feeding because they cannot bend since doing so places additional weight on the ailing hoof which is painful. Some animals will also have challenges mating because they rely on their legs to be able to support them during breeding.
History of International Hoof Care Month
While the origins of International Hoof Care Month are largely unknown, we do know that this day was set aside to create awareness of hoof-care health. This sounds like a good day to know everything there is to know about animal hooves.
A hoof is basically an enlarged toe made of keratin, a protein also found in human hair and nails. Hooves are composed of two structures, the ‘unguis,’ and the ‘subunguis.’ The ‘unguis’ is the nail, while the ‘subunguis’ is a fine layer on the underside of the nail. The ‘unguis’ surrounds the tip of the animal’s digit like a cylinder, encircling the ‘subunguis.’ Animals with hooves are known as ‘ungulates.’ There are two categories of ungulates, odd-toed ungulates called ‘Perissodactyla’ and even-toed ungulates called ‘Artiodactyla.’ The odd-toed ungulates use an odd number of their toes while moving, usually one or three. The even-toed ungulates walk on an even number of toes, usually two or four.
Just as we take care of our feet and toes, so we should take care of animals’ hooves since hooves affect their mode of transport and, consequently, every other area of their lives. They may develop infections or start walking with a limp. For animals that move in herds, any animal with an injured hoof won’t keep up with the rest of the herd, becoming vulnerable to predators. For others, such as horses, hooves bear the full brunt of the animal’s weight. Having an injured hoof puts them under significant stress and has a negative impact on their overall health.
International Hoof Care Month timeline
Straw hoof boots are used by the Japanese military to protect and give traction to horses' feet.
Lawn boots are used for horses, ponies, and donkeys in Europe.
The Journeymen Horseshoers National Union is founded.
Neel Glass invents the first modern hoof boot for barefoot horses.
International Hoof Care Month FAQs
What are horseshoes made of?
Horseshoes can be made of steel, aluminum, copper, rubber, or plastic.
How long do horseshoes last?
Typically, horseshoes only last for about six weeks.
Are all ungulates ruminants?
All even-toed ungulates are ruminants while odd-toed ungulates are hind-gut fermenters.
How to Observe International Hoof Care Month
Give proper care
Have a pet or farm animal with hooves? Now is the time to check on them. Schedule an appointment with a farrier or look after their hooves yourself.
Make a veterinary appointment
An animal's hooves are but a part of their bodies. Schedule an appointment with a vet to make sure your animal is in overall good health.
Share details about hoof care
Share what you know about International Hoof Care Month with your network. You could save other animals from suffering due to health issues.
5 Unusual Animals With Hooves
Tapir is a mostly nocturnal animal with a heavy body and fleshy snout, found in tropical America and Southeast Asia.
Red goral is an even-toed ungulate, mostly found in Tibet, Myanmar, and India.
Also called cattle chamois or gnu goat. It’s a large, muscular, and hoofed mammal, native to the eastern Himalayas.
Also known as buffalo or wisent, bison are large bovines.
The Calamian deer is an endangered species of deer that can only be found in the Calamian Islands of the Philippines.
Why International Hoof Care Month is Important
It’s a day to show gratitude
Animals benefit us in every way. They're put to work, provide food, and even kept as pets. We could never live without them. Their existence is a grand blessing worthy of tremendous gratitude.
It teaches proper animal treatment
International Hoof Care Month encourages treating animals properly. Just like us, they too are living beings that feel pain. Hence, they deserve kindness and consideration.
It advocates against animal cruelty
This special month discourages animal cruelty of all kinds. Animal cruelty is morally wrong and unkind on top of being illegal.
International Hoof Care Month dates