Working with an attending farrier, veterinarians at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine examined the immediate effects of routine trimming and shoeing on the hoof conformation and gait of clinically normal horses.

The hooves of 15 sound horses were photographed and measured before and after routine trimming and shoeing. In addition, inertial gait analysis was performed before and after trimming and shoeing, with any initial shoes reset or replaced with similar shoes. 

The period of hoof growth between the previous shoeing and the experimental shoeing ranged from about 4-8 weeks (average 40 days). Surprisingly, differences in hoof measurements before and after trimming varied from left to right; however, heel length, heel overhang and dorsal hoof wall length changed similarly between left and right sides following trimming. As one might expect in well cared for hooves, measures of hoof length and dorsal-palmar balance (including toe length and angle) were moderately different before and after trimming; however, measures of lateral-medial balance (including medial and lateral wall angles) remained unchanged.

Although there were some correlations between hoof measurements and gait parameters, there were no differences in total head and pelvic movements before and after trimming and shoeing. The authors concluded that routine trimming and shoeing does not change overall gait inertial measurements in non-lame horses. There were, however, some compensatory changes in stride parameters associated with changes in some hoof measurements immediately following trimming and shoeing.

— Kelleher ME et al. JEVS 2021;in press

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