Have you ever seen baby horse hooves? Newborn horse hooves often look like something out of a sci-fi movie. But this phenomenon seen in foals is perfectly normal “eponychium” and ensures a smooth and safe birth. Here’s everything you need to know.
Why do baby horses have weird hooves?
When a foal is born, predators are drawn to the placenta left behind, making the pair easy targets. In order to move to safety with their mother, it’s imperative that baby horses can walk on fully formed hooves. However, these small and hard hooves would be dangerous to the mare throughout pregnancy and birth without added protection.
Luckily, nature gives newborn horses a full set of soft, spongy, slippers!
What are baby horse hooves called?
The hooves of foals are called eponychium, but are also known as “fairy fingers” or “golden slippers”.
The term Eponychium is used to describe the deciduous hoof capsule in veterinary-medical and embryological literature. In other aspects of veterinary medicine, the term is generally reserved for the perioplic corium of the permanent hoof.PubMed
How long does it take for foal hooves to harden?
They begin to dry out and harden within moments of birth. As the newborn foal walks, they fall off and wear away until they completely disappear, usually within the first 24-48 hours.
Are horses born with feathers on their feet?
While it may look like feathers, the hoof capsule is actually soft and rubbery.
Do baby horses have tentacles on their hooves?
Nope! The epidermal tubules resemble tentacles but are made of keratin, just like a regular hoof.
Do all hoofed animals have eponychium?
Yes, for the same reason as horses, hoofed prey animals are born with this unique natural protection.
What do a newborn foal’s hooves look like?
For more information about baby horse hooves, check out this video:
More weird & wonderful facts about baby horses:
- Foals can stand within 2 hours of birth.
- Most foals are born at night.
- Foals begin to eat grass and hay within the first 2 weeks.
- A foal’s legs are 80-90% fully grown at birth.
- Foals are usually born with no teeth, but begin to develop them within the first few days.
Did you know? While they may be small, ponies and miniatures are not baby horses. Check out 7 Smallest Horse & Pony Breeds for more pint-sized equines.
Source: The deciduous hoof capsule (Capsula ungulae decidua) of the equine fetus and newborn foal