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Objective—To determine the effect of various environmental conditions on the degree of hydration in hoof wall horn tissue from feral horses and investigate the effect of short-term foot soaking on moisture content in hoof wall and sole tissue in domestic horses.

Animals—40 feral horses from 3 environments (wet and boggy [n = 10], partially flooded [20], and constantly dry desert [10]) and 6 nonferal Quarter Horses.

Procedures—The percentage of moisture content of hoof wall samples from feral horses was measured in vitro. In a separate evaluation, the percentage of moisture content of hoof wall and sole tissue was measured in the dry and soaked forefeet of Quarter Horses.

Results—Mean ± SD percentage of moisture content was 29.6 ± 5.1%, 29.5 ± 5.8%, and 29.5 ± 2.9% for feral horses from the wet and boggy, partially flooded, and constantly dry desert environments, respectively. Moisture content did not differ among the 3 groups, nor did it differ between dry and soaked hoof wall samples from nonferal horses. However, soaking in water for 2 hours resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of moisture content of the sole.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Environmental conditions do not appear to affect moisture content in the hoof wall horn. Soaking horses' feet regularly in water would be unlikely to change the degree of hydration in the hoof wall horn but may further hydrate the sole.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research