Body Mass and Height Influence Horses’ Feet

Additional mass placed on the hoof can negatively affect equine welfare

Farrier Takeaways

  • presented with more upright feet compared with those under 16 hh, with mass, as well as height. They also have a significant influence on the conformation of the hoof.
  • As body mass increased in the study, the left hoof spread ratio increased by 5% at the same time as the dorsal wall angle of the right hoof increased. In essence, as the mass increased, the right foot became more upright while the left foot became more angled.
  • The more upright boxy hoof conformation in larger horses in the study indicate that the horn tubules within the stratum medium are arranged in a more vertical orientation. This vertical orientation offers a greater

The hoof capsule has been repeatedly documented as a smart structure; a structure that has the capability of adapting to the loading events it experiences repeatedly.

By definition, a smart structure is one that is considered intelligent or responsive to the environmental factors it faces. Furthermore, the hoof as a smart structure has been described as being “intimately and inextricably linked” to the correct functioning of other structures in the body.1 The responses of the hoof should therefore actively support its role in locomotion through its ability to shock absorb and provide leverage. Adaptations to hoof conformation directly influence the interaction between the hoof and the ground surface, and consequently, the loading forces experienced. These loading forces, in turn, influence the shape of the smart structure further; creating a cyclic interaction. Many factors influencing the geometry…

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Kirsty lesniak

Kirsty Leśniak

Kirsty Leśniak is Senior Lec­turer at Hart­pury University, Gloucestershire, United King­­dom.

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