Researchers in Germany compared hoof loading patterns of 16 sound horses and ponies as controls with those of 17 equids that recently recovered from acute laminitis and 21 animals that had recovered from laminitis 6-12 weeks before the study. Measurements were obtained at a walk across a level concrete surface using a thin film pressure sensor and an instrumented boot.

In the sound control animals, peak loading occurred at the toe during mid-stance. However, in the laminitis group, peak loading occurred during breakover. The time to peak vertical force in the toe was longer in the laminitic groups, which also showed lower relative vertical forces in the toe compared with the control group. Surprisingly, there was no significant increase in loading in the heel region of the laminitic animals with the middle hoof region bearing most of the palmar shift in loading.

In conclusion, the authors recommend therapy for laminitis should focus on supporting the middle and caudal regions of the hoof (frog and heels) along with easing breakover, which should reduce the loading of damaged lamellae in the toe.

— Al Naem M et al. EVJ 2021;53:503-509