Hoof Prints in the Sand


It’s a good sign when there are hoof prints in the sand, rather than in the snow. This is the path I take to the trails across the street from where my horses live, and I delight in the fact that not only is Zelda leaving hoof prints, but others have gone before us.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the horses that walk this way are barefoot. You can clearly see the imprint of their frogs. An army of frogs marching down the path.

Which brings to mind a question. How did the fleshy part of a horse’s hoof come to be called a “frog”. There are several speculative answers, including this tale of “Horse Whispers”.

Horse Whisperers possessed two important talismans or fetishes that could be used in connection with jading and drawing. These were the milt and the frog’s bone.

. . . Of greater importance was the frog’s bone. In fact, it was usually the bone of a toad. And possessors of this talisman were known as “toadmen”. The bone itself was forked like a wishbone (possibly the pelvic girdle or breastbone). It resembled the V-shaped band of horn on the underside of a horse’s hoof which is called the frog. So there was imitative magic at work here, both in the verbal and visual sense.
The ritual of acquiring it was almost as important as the object itself. In fact, it is said to have originally been part of the Whisperers’ initiation ceremony.
       After it was killed, the frog or toad was left on a whitethorn bush for 24 hours to become hard and dry. It was then buried in an anthill and left there for a month. At the end of that time there was only the skeleton left. This was taken to a running stream at full moon and tossed onto the water. The horseman had to watch carefully until a little crotch bone separated itself from the rest and floated against the current. It was this bone which was kept.

Secrets of The Horse Whisperers
The “frog” of Freedom’s foot.

The most reasonable among them is:

It turns out that ‘frog’ is simply the corruption of an old English word frush (or forg or fursh), in French foursche, and in Latin furca. What all these words mean, as you may have figured out from the sound, is ‘fork’. Because of course the most obvious feature of the frog on a horse’s hoof is the triangular shape that sits in the forked part of the hoof.

Good Horse Blog

In addition, in German, the bottom of a horse’s hoof is called the “frosch.” Makes sense.

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