When horses are born their hooves are covered with rubbery finger-like projections. Their scientific name is eponychium, also commonly known as fairy fingers or golden slippers. Their purpose is to protect the mare’s uterus from damage during pregnancy and allow the foal to safely move through the birth canal.
Foal slippers are deciduous structures, meaning they will fall off when no longer needed. This is a gradual process that usually takes 24 to 48 hours. They begin to harden up almost immediately after the foal is born. As the foal starts walking, the slippers gradually wear down to reveal the hard hooves we are all familiar with.
All hoofed animals are born with the eponychium.