The purpose of the study, according to horsetalk.co.nz, was to observe hoof kinetics in a group of 10 Shetland mares chosen from the university’s research herd. Five of the ponies had a normal weight, and the other five were obese and exhibiting symptoms of laminitis.
Sleutjens and her team used Imprint First shoes, moldable glue-on shoes that provide frog support. These shoes were designed to give support and comfort to horses suffering from acute laminitis. The shoe’s heart-bar shape encourages the palmar structures of the hoof to add to the weight-bearing surface area of the hoof. The shoe’s rolled toe helps to ease break over.
Each pony was given a trim by the university’s farrier, Jan de Zwaan. Then they were each led at a walk and then a trot over a force plate and a dynamically calibrated pressure plate on two separate occasions. The first time the ponies were led over the plates was immediately after their hooves were trimmed. They were led over the plates a second time after waiting 72 hours after the application of the glue-on shoes.
The normal ponies’ gaits did not change after they were shod with the frog-support shoes. The obese ponies, however, showed immediate improvement in their gaits and stance phases after the frog-support shoes had been applied.
The team noted that the obese ponies’ gaits resembled the normal ponies’ while they were wearing the shoes. The obese ponies landed less on their heels and lengthened their strides and stance phases. Before, their movements were characterized by shorter strides and stance phases, as well as increased loading of the heel region.
After observing the effect the shoes had on the obese ponies, the team concluded that the frog support shoes helped relieve the obese ponies’ laminitis symptoms.