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Weird & Wonderful: A Foal’s Eponychium

Just For Pets

1 min read

Weird & Wonderful: A Foal’s Eponychium

When a baby horse, called a foal, is born its hooves look pretty odd and alienish.

The hooves are soft and have what’s called an eponychium [ep-uh-nik-ee-uh m], which is fancy for “hoof capsule.” It might not seem so weird until the hoof is turned over, and there you will see soft, rubbery, finger-like projections.

Even though it might look gross to some people, this is very important for the foal to have so that during birth the foal’s hooves do not tear the mother’s birth canal. Hoof capsules are deciduous (meaning to shed away) so they will fall off shortly after he starts to walk and then start to harden into the hooves we are familiar with.

Other names for the hoof capsule are fairy fingers, fairy slippers, or golden slippers. These nicknames make them sound a little more wonderful than weird!