How Do Wild Horses Trim their Hooves?

Yesterday my friend who has dedicated some years to the national geographic channel came to visit my horse barn. I shared my experience with horses and he gave some valuable information about the wild horses.

I asked a lot of questions and one of them was a frequently asked one “Hooves of wild horses”  I tried googling several times but never got a satisfactory answer even though there are tons of articles on this topic. Now that I have got all my questions answered I’m here to answer yours.

First of all, do wild horses “actually” trim their hooves?

How Do Wild Horses Trim their Hooves? They don’t “actually” trim their hooves but as they are always on run so their hooves automatically get trimmed by the unparalleled not-so-walk friendly hard grounds. Domestic horses need trimming because they are dependent on their masters and they don’t travel much.

Wild horses get a lot of benefits from this “natural hoof trimming”. The few major ones are listed below.

  • Because of natural trimming the wild horses seldom get a victim of chiropractic, muscle, and joint problems.
  • The natural expansion and contraction of hooves improve blood circulation through limbs which in turn reduces stress on the horse heart.
  • Unlike domestic horses, they rarely get arthritis navicular syndrome. 

Wild horses are wearing their hooves off

Hoof trimming for domestic horses is no less scary than being presented for slaughter. Sometimes the last experience makes this process even more horrifying. The domestic horses need a good trim at least once or twice a year(depending on the situation) whereas the wild horses are wearing and sharpening the hooves every single day, without even knowing. 

As per a recent study, wild horses run around 20 to 40 miles a day in search of food and this hunt helps them in trimming their hooves off.

Even if their hooves are being trimmed every day. How do they stay healthy? How do they not get damaged or infected?

When the outer hard portion is worn down the inner softer but not so delicate part absorbs and distributes the pressure evenly to keep it safe from the danger zone. This even absorption and distribution of pressure keep them in a healthier state.

Hooves growth is much slower in the wild horses

Domestic horses spend most of their lives living, eating, and moving around in the barns. Even if they are taken out the owners are strictly looking for parallel horse-friendly grounds to enjoy a smoother ride. For this reason, the hoof’s growth in domestic horses is much faster than the wild ones. 

Running and living on hard stone-y grounds cut down the growth of hooves to a noticeable extent. Hooves just don’t bother wild horses as much as they do the domestic ones.

Facts about Wild Horse Hooves

Wild horses have stronger hooves

Domestic horses have weaker hooves even though their owners are taking care of the vitamins and minerals they need. Staying on damp surfaces also puts delicacy in the domestic horse’s foot. Their hooves are delicate enough to be trimmed by a nonprofessional whereas the wild beasts on the other hand have tougher and stronger hooves. The reasons behind these tougher hooves are easy to access nutrients and walking on the harder and unfriendly grounds. 

Wild horses don’t need shoes either

Horseshoes are for domestic horses as their hooves are delicate and more likely to get damaged by unfamiliar roads. Wild horses have stronger and healthier hooves and they seldom get affected by the surface they are walking on. So, they are fine with walking and even running barefoot.

Wild horses’ hooves do not split

Only domestic horses relate to hoof problems and infections. Wild horse’s hooves are strong enough to encounter tougher situations with ease. Since the wild horses are roughly using their hooves for the purpose they are made so they end up developing hardy hooves that are going to stay in place no matter how tough the surface is. (source)

Wild horses just do not need any hoof care

You might have seen several horse owners discussing hoof care in most of the gatherings. In domestic horse cases, hooves are a sensitive part of their body that keeps on getting infected, damaged, and wounded every other day.

Horse owners usually go a long way to take care of their overly sensitive hooves. But wild horses do not need any of that to keep their hooves strong and they do not need any hoof supplement. They just stroll around to keep their hooves well-trimmed and healthy.

Lastly, is there a way to trim down the domestic horse’s hooves?

Yes, but not to the point that they don’t need hoof trimming at all. But the trimming need can be minimized by allowing them to walk and run more on uneven, unfamiliar hard grounds.  Remember! Add these more miles gradually to their routine otherwise it will leave them wounded and then eventually infected. 

wild horse hooves

Frequently asked questions

Why don’t the wild horses need trimming?

Because they are already wearing the hooves down by walking and running at least 20 to 40 miles a day.

How do the wild horses survive without proper hoof care?

Hoof care is just for domestic or pet horses. The wild horses are maintaining their hooves by walking and running on hard unparalleled grounds.

What are the wild horse’s hooves like? Do they look exactly like the horse in my backyard?

They have the same structure and yes they do exactly look like the domestic horse’s hooves. They appear the same but the wild horse’s hooves are much stronger and healthier than the domestic horse’s hooves. 

Is there a way to slow down hooves growth?

Yes, you can slow down the growth by allowing your horse to walk in less damp places. Adding more miles to the daily routine will probably eliminate the need to go to the farrier.

Do the wild horse’s hooves ever overgrow?

It’s rare, but they can overgrow if the horse stops moving around in the wild. But usually, they just don’t stop moving around as they have to run for food. The walking and running on unfriendly surfaces do not let their hooves overgrow.

An important tip for domestic horse owners!

We all want our horses to live a healthier lifestyle. Just like me, you might have been thinking of adding some miles to their routine to eliminate this horrifying hoof trimming procedure from their life. If this is what you are considering, I recommend you to unhurriedly change their carpet and add miles to their routine.

Their hooves are not as adaptable as wild horses’ hooves. Bringing a sudden change would be hard for those delicate hooves to digest. And more importantly, discuss the matter with a professional first.


Wild horses don’t trim their hooves; in fact, they wear down their hooves every single day by walking and running on unfriendly hard surfaces. This rough and tough lifestyle helps them in developing stronger and healthier hooves that are less likely to be damaged or split. The hoof growth in wild horses is slower as compared to domestic ones.

Even if the hooves are being worn down every day still they do not get to the point that the horse finds it difficult to walk or be called lame. Wild horses, because of their natural hoof trim, get to reap several benefits that domestic horses can’t.

Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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