(submitted from Catherine Sky)
Having worked with Bureau of Land Management wild horses in past years and raised various strains of Spanish Mustangs some of which were descendants of founding stock directly from the wild, I have seen some varying differences in hoof type due to terrain and environment.
Example 1) Cerbats from Marble Canyon in the Cerbat Mountain range near Kingman Arizona. The Cerbat as a strain of Spanish Mustang and generally untouched by man until mid 90’s had managed to evolve a very steep angle as a herd to a horse. Reason being or seeming to be is the rocky cactus terrain they lived in for over 200 years. They had to dig for water sometimes 6 feet to survive some waterless summers. The hoof is round narrow and upright. The steep angles and high heels protected their heels and coronet bands from cactus and sharp rocks. An average angel for a typical Cerbat and many if not most of their 1/2 crosses would be 60 degrees, with few standing at 58 degrees and many as high as 63 degrees. Their walls are typically denser, thicker than other Spanish Mustangs or Wild horses form other areas. The early Cerbat as a group had tendencies to be laterally gaited as well. They created their own mustang roll from constant digging.
Example 2) Horses descending from Yellow Fox, SMR#2 a Montana Cheyenne Indian Reservation horse are descendants raised on Wyoming prairie of over 3000 acres. Very rocky but unlike Marble Canyon, Wyoming’s rolling hills spread out over the 3000 acres dotted with prairie dog holes. The typical hoof is large, wide and flat, and low heels with angles nearing 55 degrees. 56 would be pushing high heels on these horses.
Example 3) The early Book Cliff horses from Utah. These would be the 1930-40’s stock prior to the draft infusion into the herds. Small, round, flint-hard hooves, these feet are closest to the ideal model that is used to describe mustang healthy hooves. Book Cliff blood still have these type of feet even raised on pastures which says something for genetics and natural selection that takes generations to make changes. Most studies of wild horses feet are based on Nevada wild horses who also live on mostly sandy slide rock and gravel like surfaces, with a few from woodlands up north.
Example 4) the Corolla Banker horses who live along ocean beaches and in marshlands have pony-like feet that grow quite long and are not worn off to the same degree as we see in the mustang studies. These horses have tough healthy hooves that tend to be a bit longer. The angles are pretty average also. They have a long history of soundness.
When trimming horses, one should take into consideration what genetics and what environment shaped the animal in front of them. You can’t trim a Cerbat like you would trim a Corolla. You may be able to trim a Book Cliff bred horse similar to a Nevada wild horse, but the Yellow Fox bred horses (regardless of the pasture or prairie where it was raised), still have a genetically different hoof to tackle.
When considering the mustang roll on your horse it is necessary to consider what kind of surface the horse is walking on and what kind of load they are carrying. A horse working in sand may not need the mustang roll in order to break over. For instance, the Bedouin Arabian is not known for a natural mustang roll yet they are world renowned for their flint hard feet and soundness in their homeland.
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