View Full Version : Unusual question

01-05-2005, 02:00 PM
Here's a rather unusual question?
Would a person be able to walk if he had hooves like a horse instead of feet? Or would he fall on his face?

If he had these hooves from birth could he learn to walk like a normal person?

Thank you for any answer(s).

01-05-2005, 07:51 PM
Read Andre Norton's 'The Crystal Griffin'. Her hero manages on hooves.

01-05-2005, 08:03 PM
Interesting question.

I am sure a person born with hooves would learn to walk. Humans are amazing in their ability to adapt. What you might want to consider, though, is how differently his body would develop to compensate for the lack of feet. For example, when you stand still, the muscles in your feet play a part in keeping you upright. Without the flat, wide base to balance on, I imagine that a person with hooves would develop a stooped posture. This would lower the center of gravity, and make balancing easier. I don't think he would walk in the same way that a "feeted" person walks, either. I'm picturing short, stiff steps.

Of course, all of this assumes that prosthetic devices are not available in your world.

01-06-2005, 02:14 AM
They would adapt. You might try researching physical disabilities that mimic the condition.


01-06-2005, 02:44 AM
Why don't you strap big tomato cans to your feet and have a friend video tape you as you walk?

Oh, and if the tape is funny, put it on ifilm.

01-06-2005, 03:43 AM
Fauns have goat hooves and walk upright. Admittedly fauns are mythical beings (and admittedly they have the whole lower half of a goat), but you might look at the way their legs are shaped to give you an idea how your character's legs might be deformed due to the hooves.

XThe NavigatorX
01-06-2005, 03:45 AM
People seem to walk okay with wooden shoes, which would be similar. How would you have their legs shaped? Like normal human ones, or like the satyr with the curved horse legs?

01-06-2005, 04:14 AM
Keep in mind the orientation of the knee and hip is completely different in creatures who walk upright and in hooved animals. You'd need a rotation in the hip socket somehow, and maybe a permanent bend in the knee.

Plus we use our toes for balance; people who have had toe amputations or mid foot amputations generally need a prosthesis to balance.

Maybe you should ask an orthopedist? Or a large animal vet?

01-06-2005, 05:13 AM
Any of Larry Niven's books dealing with the Pierson's Puppeteers (http://www.larryniven.org/puppeteer/pupbod.htm#appear) are good to read to see how a three-hooved animal walks. Ringworld (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0345333926/103-6931687-0627035?v=glance) is perhaps best in this regard.

01-07-2005, 04:25 AM
Bound feet, as in China, might be something to check into. Women with bound feet could walk, but not easily, and not just because of pain. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the ability to flex and bend the feet is crucial to balance.

- Victoria

01-08-2005, 01:37 AM
There's an old Native American myth about a demon woman who comes into dance circles and seduces all of the young men. She lures one away in the woods, then kills him by stamping all over him. The only way she can be recognized is because of her hooved feet, but everyone is always too caught up in her spell to notice.

So, according to some Native American myth, not only can you walk with hooved feet, you can dance, too.

01-08-2005, 05:53 AM
Ah, but was that based on observation? And if no-one noticed her hooves till she killed them, how did the story spread? Just to be nasty and cynical.

01-08-2005, 06:11 AM
Don't worry, Nyki. I always get caught up with that stuff too. It was a long time ago since I read the myth... If you're interested I can try to dig it up somewhere.

Edit: Didn't find a full-length version of the myth, but I did find this: "The only way to save oneself from the magic of Deer Woman is to look to her feet, see her hooves, and recognize her for what she is. To know the story and act appropiately is to save oneself from a lifetime lived in pain and sorrow; to ignore the story is to continue in the death dance with Deer Woman."

So, I guess some people must have seen her! :p

01-09-2005, 04:05 AM
While I'm nowhere near an expert on the subject I believe some of that ability to walk upright would have to depend on the size and shape of the hooves as well as the other dynamics mentioned.

01-11-2005, 01:02 AM
Coming in late... Maybe you could find behind-the-scenes info from the various TV shows and movies that had characters tiptoeing around on hooves.

01-11-2005, 04:43 PM
Just as a though, another angle would be that hooves are pretty insensitive, and being able to feel the ground plays a big role in walking. Just yesterday I accidently got to feel what having a totally numb foot is like. At work I wound up having to sit in an odd position and keep tension on some cable while some repair work was done (I work at a theater), after about 45 minutes my left foot, from top to bottom, was completely numb and insensitive. I rose up, and found I was completely unable to walk. Without my foot feeding my brain information about the ground, I couldn't keep my balance, and wound up standing on one legt for a few minutes waiting for feeling to return.It was the oddest sensation I teel you, taking a step with my numb foot resulted in my good foot working double time to keep me upright. Just a thought to help you out, perhaps someone with hooved feet has trouble in the same menner?

Duncan J Macdonald
01-11-2005, 06:41 PM
Shouldn't be a problem. Just imagine a ballet company where all the dancers are sur les Pointes all the time.


01-11-2005, 10:58 PM
Women in old China needed special platform shoes to walk, and they could only walk a certain way (swaying their hips, etc.) which made them more "feminine." Without the special shoes, they couldn't even stand.

01-12-2005, 09:53 AM
I hate to put a damper on this but Holly was pretty close.
In a paleontology sense, ANY two-legged therapod dinosaur evolved with three toes, and sometimes a back hind-claw, reminiscent of a rudimentary thumb. Birds evolved the same
way. The prehistoric horse first evolved with small toes that splayed outward to help in balance and locomotion, then later the hoof split (evolution), until it became fused and one-piece like we see today on modern equines.

The three-toed stance was, is, and always has been nature's
simplest solution to balance, mobility and momentum. And that is basic morphology as we know it today. Bi-pedal humans could do quite remarkably well with a three-toed arrangement, and would quite possibly, make them incredible runners.

A solid hoof is insensitive to proper balance for a biped. Although how many times have we seen Satan and other mythological creatures portrayed this way? Quite a few.
Could you use it? I guess so, but how are you going to explain it? I'm just saying that's it's a tad improbable.

Now a split hoof would allow for more flexure--something akin to a swine's phalanges, morphologically.

Remember that sci-fi and fantasy is likely based on what we currently regard as proven science. If we invent something, it's still a good idea to explain some rudimentary physics for why this can happen. Even McAffrey(spelling) has some pterosaur features in her flying dragons. I'm just saying, ya got to be careful.


02-04-2005, 11:08 PM
Are you specifically wanting animal-like hooves or fingers/toes that have been bound or genetically mutated?

I have seen pictures of humans born with the pinkie, ring and middle fingers fused together as one along with the forefinger and thumb so they only had two "fingers" that looked like a hoof. Only one also had a picture of the feet which had a big toe jutting out to the side almost like a thumb and the rest of the toes were together in one block but there were red lines--possible arteries--running through given an indication of where the separation should have been.

IIRC, at least one of the fused hand kids was due to massive inbreeding but I can't say for sure about the one with the feet. That was a odd chromosome thing I think.

Cool question though!

02-18-2005, 11:31 PM
Here's a rather unusual question?
Would a person be able to walk if he had hooves like a horse instead of feet? Or would he fall on his face?

If he had these hooves from birth could he learn to walk like a normal person?

Thank you for any answer(s).

Of course they could walk. Have you ever seen anyone with two artificial legs walk. I've seen people walk who had two peglegs. Besides, it's essentially been tried. A great many people walk very well who have far worse problems than hooves.

Joe Calabrese
02-18-2005, 11:41 PM
Actually there is a genetic disorder that causes hoof or lobster-like apendeges of the hands and feet. A female newscaster has it and she is going to be on HBO's Carnivale as a freak (scorpion woman?) later this year. It has caused a rush of hate mail because she is selling out her disability and making a mockery of the strides handicap people have made.

She said that she's been trying to hide from it for years and now is not afraid of what poeople think and that is why she is doing the show-- to show you shouldn't be assamed.

Good for her.
I wish I could remember her name.

02-18-2005, 11:45 PM
In the news today or yesterday, there is an article about robots that can walk. Some that were pictured had solid feet, yet those walked. Based upon that, it appears that hooves, which are essentially solid feet, would not be an impediment to walking for two-legged creatures.

03-22-2005, 07:20 AM
Have you heard of the term "Hopeful Monster"? This is basically a creature in which an apparently small mutation results in huge changes during development, which alter the animal's body-plan far more drastically than the mutation on its own might lead you to suspect, and result in an organism which has integrated the mutation into its body plan in a new, striking and reasonably efficient way.

I have seen photographs of both a dog *and a goat* (i.e. with hard but cloven hooves) who were born without forelegs, and in both cases the animal learned to walk on its hindlegs alone, and the act of doing so while it was young rearranged its musculature and posture quite substantially, turning a natural quadruped into a reasonably effective biped which was rather different in shape from a normal dog or goat (quite apart from having two limbs missing).

03-22-2005, 09:55 AM
somewhat like WH was onto, i wonder how, or if, hooves would affect the spine.

i'd imagine that off-hand, while people may adapt to an a circumstance, hooves aren't on our evolutionary list any time soon simply as a balance issue. how often do you use your feet to balance? a lot, more than you'd think, probably. of the options mentioned, i'd vote for the three-toed one, like a camel?, as being the best 'viable' option, but even then, because of our top-heaviness, our feet would probably be pretty damn big unless there was a complimentary evolution in human balance to compensate. balance, in fact, i think is the major hurdle in creating robots that walk like humans.

but, sure, if they had them from birth, you learn to use what you've got or you do without, eh? and while you can learn to use two prosthetic legs, you'd still not want to race me in the 100 yard dash, heh heh.

oh, and women would probably suffer the most with hooves, especially those who are top heavy, and they often already have lower back pain *with* normal feet.

i don't know about women's feet and old china, but the japanese used to (and while this practice has died out over the years, it was still done in a small extent within living memory) wrap women's feet to an inhuman degree. the idea was to make the feet very, very small, delicate, and 'womanly.' it worked -- their feet were almost function-less. the photos i've seen of these poor women's feet are indescribable. i say 'poor,' but that's wrong -- women with these feet weren't very useful, obviously, rather a privileged woman's thing.

oh, the torture we've put women through.

03-22-2005, 10:12 AM
It was the Chinese, not the Japanese, who did the foot-binding.

> oh, the torture we've put women through.

If by "we" you mean the human race that's true - although I could also tell you about some really *gruesome* mutilations inflicted on men in some societies.

If by "we" you mean men I think that's debatable - most gender-specific mutilations seem to be inflicted by older members of a given gender on younger members without reference to the *other* gender. Foot-binding seems to have been done in order to say "I'm so posh I don't need to walk - there are people to do these things" but of course older women did it to young girls who weren't in a position either to consent or to refuse.

My mother's generation damaged their feet for life by wearing "winkle-pickers" - and they did it just for a passing fashion. There are, even now as we speak, people having their tongues slit down the middle because they think it looks cool.

Indeed, alien equivalents of these sort of quasi-cosmetic mutilations would make an interesting theme for a story.

03-22-2005, 10:26 AM
ah, okay, i guess it was the chinese, i just misremembered it.

03-23-2005, 07:50 AM
I think there would be a problem if someone "became" hooved as opposed to being born that way. I know from familial experience that you need your big toe for balance, and if you lose it after having it all your life, you have to learn to walk again.

As far as being born hooved, I see no problem with walking. As someone said above, the adaptability of anatomy (be it animal or human) is amazing.


03-24-2005, 12:14 AM
That's an interesing question.

The hooves would have to be pretty large in order for a bipedal organism to balance itself upright. A great deal of Bipedal balance comes from the forward pressure put on our toes as well as our arches instep and forward balls of our feet.

A perferctly balanced stance will have the knees slightly bent to a position just over the toes (look at how a fighter positions his legs in realtion to his feet, his knees are over his toes to some degree.) this gives the human body it's optimal balance with respect to our individual center of balance on our bodies. THe center of balance varied from individual to individual based on our unique builds.

I don't think that with a propotioned hoof like a horse/goat or deer would provide the adequate surface area to support the weight of the human body while allowing any real ease or fluidity of motion. Perhaps a human with hooves could walk slowly and cautiously but any rapid sort of locomotion would be difficult. Just try and picture yourself walking around without any feet and only two solid stumps of bone three to four inches in diameter in place of feet. Walking, let alone running would be hard, but not impossible. I just can't see the mechanics of balance and body leverage working with any degree of ease.

Well that's my $.02

03-24-2005, 12:43 AM
jar-jar got around pretty good.

03-24-2005, 05:58 AM
I know the perfect parallel to answer this question with real-world experience!

Does anyone remember those little cup-things that had long strings attached that you walked around on when you were say, kindergarten age? My kindergarten had them, and they were a pain...If you could find adult-sized "those things", you could make a pretty good comparison as to what it'd really be like, methinks...


03-24-2005, 05:13 PM
jar-jar got around pretty good.

LOL :D I stand (On Hooves) corrected.

03-25-2005, 07:27 AM
is a Gungan (http://www.starwars.com/databank/species/gungan/). “Gungan arms end in four-fingered hands, and their feet have three stubby toes each.”

I think it's a credit to the computer animators that jar-jar got around at all. ;)

03-25-2005, 10:33 AM
and he's an aquatic species, or so it seems, and other than his obvious ability to breath underwater, he seems pretty ill-suited for that, too. i mean, isn't a humanoid a pretty inefficient underwater creature? i don't know.

03-25-2005, 02:03 PM
read the info in the link I provided. There, they 'explain' the species Gungan. But since it's all made up, who cares? Jar Jar was hilarious, even though he was a figment of an animator's imagination. ;)