Researchers Study Heel Expansion and Glue-On Shoes

Researchers in Japan conducted an experimental trial to examine heel movements for two types of glue-on shoes compared with a conventionally nailed aluminum race plate.

The glue-ons included a flexible polyurethane shoe and an aluminum race plate that is glued on using large toe clips. Eleven horses were used in two experiments; exercised at a walk, trot and canter on a treadmill with a displacement sensor attached across their heels. Average heel expansion, contraction and total heel movement were calculated from 10 strides for each horse at each gait.

No significant differences in heel movement were noted between the polyurethane shoes and the nailed on shoes at any gait. Less heel expansion (14% decrease) and more heel contraction (11% increase) were measured with the aluminum shoes at the trot compared with the nailed-on shoes. Although significant, these differences were small; and no differences were noted for total heel movement. Also, no significant differences in heel movements were noted at the walk or canter.

The authors point out the observed differences in heel movement were much smaller than the effects reported for other types of glue-on shoes and suggested there was little overall effect of these new styles of glue-on shoes on heel movement compared with conventional nailed-on race plates.

Takahashi Y et al. JEVS 2022:103939

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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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