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Heart Hoof Care Part IV: Lateral Cartilage & Bar Tubules

Updated: Apr 5

We’ve learned about sole tubules and wall tubules in previous blogs, but...there are still more tubules to learn about!  The next structure we will learn about are the lateral cartilages.  The lateral cartilages are flexible sheets of cartilage that extend from the palmar processes of the coffin bone all the way to the coronary region. 

Lateral cartilages are found on both the inside (medial) and lateral (outside) of the hoof; any identical structure found on both sides of a joint or limb is termed “collateral” which is why the lateral cartilages are often referred to as collateral cartilages.  The lateral cartilages are connected to the coffin bone, digital cushion, bar wall, short pastern, navicular bone, coronary band, capsule wall, and the hide—all of the major and individual structures within the hoof capsule and pastern! 

They are flexible and elastic which allows the foot to deform during weight bearing and then return to its previous shape—acting as a shock-absorber for the hoof.  You can physically feel the lateral cartilages just above the coronary band on each side of the lower pastern.  

Located at the base of each lateral cartilage near the connection to the palmar process of the coffin bone is the bar corium.  Like all of the other coriums we have learned about so far, the bar corium is covered in papillae which grow tubules; of course, bar papillae produce a different type of tubule—bar tubules!  Bar tubules are much more similar to wall tubules than sole tubules; they are hard and stiff to serve their purpose of supporting the back part of the hoof, ensuring the hoof stops descending upon impact, and helping absorb shock by dissipating energy to the lateral cartilages and digital cushion (subject of our next blog!). 

Like wall tubules, there are both pigmented and unpigmented bar tubules; the tubules closest to the sole region are unpigmented and the tubules closest to the frog are pigmented.  

All of the bar tubules combined form the third piece of our imaginary hoof—the bar walls!

Are you starting to notice a theme with the hoof capsule?...the different parts of the hoof capsule are composed of tubules which grow from different coriums located on different structures within the hoof, and each type of tubule has different characteristics to best support the specific purpose it serves for the hoof.  The next blog will cover the final piece of the imaginary hoof we are building...just a couple more blogs and we are done with the anatomy portion of this blog series...woohoo!

***All photos courtesy of Cheryl HendersonThe Oregon School of Natural Hoof Care***


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