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Pressure Plate Analysis Measures Dynamic Weight Distribution

Ghent University researcher’s findings can influence trimming and shoeing for individual hoof-care cases

Farrier Takeaways

  • Human pressure plates are effective for mapping pressure loading and symmetry in horses.
  • Horses’ limbs, like humans, may serve different purposes, which can impact pressure distribution.
  • Visual maps highlighting pressure distribution in a horse’s hoof can be used to make decisions for working on horses with hoof imbalances.

Human medicine and athletic stores rely on visual maps to recommend orthotics or sneaker styles based on a person’s gait. Pressure plates measure how an individual distributes their weight as they walk or run and converts that data into a graphic interpretation. That information is used to pair the right support or shoe style for specific gait pattern or abnormality to reduce the risk for injury.

Equine sports medicine and rehabilitation expert Dr. Maarten Oosterlinck was interested to learn whether this technology could be used with horses. Radiographs are increasingly used to take measurements and better understand hoof balance while at rest, but they do not provide a complete picture.

“Measurements on radiographs is quantitative, but it is a static evaluation,” says Oosterlinck, , an equine veterinarian and researcher at Ghent University in Belgium. “It remains to be seen how the things we observe statically translate into possible consequences during movement.”

The variation of results in static and dynamic evaluations is not a new concept. In the 19th century, horsemen debated whether a horse had all four feet off the ground at any time at the trot. It was only when Eadweard Muybridge developed a method for taking sequential photographs…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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