How Does Trimming and Shoeing Affect Equine Behavior and Daily Step Counts?

Researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Berry College in Georgia investigated the effect of trimming and resetting shoes on the time spent lying down and the number of steps taken per day using 10 light horse geldings, aged 3 to 21.

An accelerometer was strapped in place over a neoprene boot (used to prevent sores) on the left hind limb. The horses were maintained on pasture for 22 hours per day, and the accelerometer and boot were removed daily during a stall-feeding period while the horses were examined for injury, lameness or irritation.

Three horses were dropped from the study because of heat that developed under the boot. The remaining seven horses were randomly assigned to a treatment group that received hoof trimming and a shoeing reset, and a sham control group that was similarly handled by the farrier with no trimming or shoeing performed.

During the 5 days following shoeing, there was no difference in the number of times horses in each group lay down per day, but the reshod horses spent more time lying down (121 minutes) and took more steps per day (3,500) compared with the controls (67 minutes and 3,000 steps). None of the horses showed signs of discomfort or lameness during the study. Because increased time spent lying down is thought to be associated with increased mental comfort, the authors suggest horses may be more comfortable after trimming and resetting.

— Daniel JA et al. JEVS 2020;88:102947

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Albert Kane

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

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