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

Pictured Above: Sensor foils attached to the horses’ hooves transferred data that measured pressure of six to seven strides. The strides were averaged in one image, which was used to calculate location of the initial contact during landing, center of force (CoF) during midstance and location of the point of breakover.

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.

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Jennifer hagen 2017

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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