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A study by researchers from the Veterinary Medicine, Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, Germany, examined hoof loading in laminitic horses compared with normal controls. Fifty-four horses were divided into three groups: controls (16 horses) that were clinically sound, group one (17 horses) that had recently been taken off medication and stopped showing signs of acute bilateral laminitis and group two (21 horses) that had a history of recovering from acute bilateral laminitis 6 to 12 weeks before enrolling in the study. All horses were barefoot when measurements were obtained using an instrumented hoof boot to measure loading throughout the stride at a walk.
Peak loading in the toe occurred during mid-stance in control horses but during breakover in those with a history of laminitis. The time to peak vertical force in the toe was shorter in controls, but the relative vertical force measured in the toe was higher in the controls. In laminitic horses, contact pressures were significantly higher in the heels compared with the toe and middle hoof regions, with the heels having the highest relative vertical force. However, in laminitic horses, the shift in loading mainly occurred from the toe to the middle hoof region even though relative vertical force and vertical impulse were higher in the heel region compared with other regions.
The authors concluded that supportive therapy for laminitic horses should focus on supporting both the middle and caudal hoof regions including the frog and heels. In addition, as expected, this study supports the idea of easing breakover…