What am I looking at, I hear you cry.
Well, it took me a minute to figure out too. This is what a foal’s hooves look like just a few minutes after it is born.
But why do they look so disgusting?!
Nature is of course, incredibly beautiful. But occasionally, it’s kind of gross too. What you’re seeing is the foal’s hoof covered in a soft rubbery layer, called the deciduous hoof capsule. The capsule protects the mother’s uterus and birth canal from the sharp edges of the hooves during pregnancy and birth.
Predators are attracted to the smell of the placenta, so it’s necessary for the foal and its mother to be able to move away from the birthing spot as quickly as possible – so the foal needs to have fully formed hooves at birth. During the foal’s first venture across the ground the soft hoof capsules are worn down to meet the level sole, revealing the hooves we’re used to seeing.
According to those who work with horses, the covering feels soft and squishy.