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How Trimming Methods Influence Equine Gait and Load

Leipzig University study finds that hoof-care techniques should be tailored to the individual horse’s needs

Farrier Takeaways

  • When evaluating horses dynamically for trimming, the study finds there is individual variation in the initial hoof-ground contact.
  • A forced change of the initial hoof-ground contact can provoke a unilateral shift of load during midstance, which might be harmful for joints and soft tissue.
  • Horses with short-term acquired limb deformities distal to the fetlock react faster and easier with a change in landing as a result of a correction trim that improves medial-lateral balance.

The main goals of hoof trimming are to promote the soundness of the hooves and the limbs, support the biomechanical efficiency, and maintain the functionality of the equine foot.1,2 During motion, in particular, it is of importance to optimize forces acting on the hoof to maintain structural integrity and function of the equine toe. However, there is no agreement on how to achieve these goals.

A wide range of trimming methods exists and no other topic is so controversially and emotionally discussed as to how to ideally trim the equine hoof.3,4 This might be related to the fact that very limited scientific studies exist that directly focus on the effect of hoof trimming on the biomechanics of the equine distal limb.

Knowledge is sparse concerning the immediate and long-term effects of different hoof trimming methods on the equine gait pattern and load of the hoof capsule in dynamics. Therefore, this second installment describes relevant findings of a recent study that investigates the influence of different trimming methods on the pressure distribution at…

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Jennifer hagen 5

Jenny Hagen

Jenny Hagen, DVM, PhD, CF, is a veterinarian, re­searcher and certified farrier. She is in private practice for equine ortho­pedics and chiropractic. She is a mem­ber of the faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Leipzig University in Ger­many.

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