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EDITOR’S NOTE: The information, ideas and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Swiss researchers conducted a study that compared hoof dimensions and balance between Icelandic and warmblood horses at varying stages of the shoeing cycle.
Radiographs were measured for 13 horses of each breed and comparisons were made between and within breeds at the beginning of the shoeing cycle and the end of the shoeing cycle or when the Icelandic horses were shod for competition.
As one might expect, all linear hoof dimensions of the Icelandic horses’ front hooves increased by the end of the shoeing cycle with significant increases in toe length, hoof width and calculated volume relative to P3 volume. Toe angle decreased over the same time. Warmblood hooves changed similarly over time but also demonstrated increased toe length in the hind foot. Compared with the warmbloods, Icelandic horses had larger hooves relative to P3 and longer toes when adjusted for withers height. Icelandic horses seemed to grow more hoof more quickly becoming larger, more upright but more imbalanced over time compared with the warmbloods.