Research Journal: May/June 2018

The information, ideas and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Follow-Up On Walking Horse Study

Publication of a study reviewed in the March 2018 “Research Journal” sparked a letter to the American Journal of Veterinary Research, as well as a response from the authors. The editorial by representatives of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association was critical of the study for only examining the short term effects of using stacked wedge pads and pastern chains on horses exercised without a rider at a walk. They seemed to link the use of stacked wedge pads and action chains with the practice of soring. They also cited an unpublished report of the effects of shoeing two horses with 8° heel elevation that caused the horses to stumble and tire easily as evidence that raised heels cause harm to horses.

The authors responded by acknowledging, just as they did in their original manuscript, that their study was only designed to examine the short-term effects of the shoeing and action chains applied in the study. They stated their opposition to the practice of soring but made a distinction between the training devices applied in the study and the “harmful, unethical” practice of soring. They seemed to suggest that longer-term experimental studies are needed to determine the effects of these training devices on the well-being of gaited show horses. However, after seeing some of the horses at the shows and training barns where these practices were used on a regular, ongoing basis many years ago, this reviewer has to…

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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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