In the rich and storied history of farriery, it’s a rare moment indeed when one mutters, “This horse grows too much hoof.”
The familiar refrain in stables and pastures is just the opposite — there just isn’t enough hoof growth, or there’s a problem with its quality.
It’s with that in mind that British farrier Simon Curtis initiated three pilot studies focusing on foal hoof growth.
“At a basic level, I think hoof growth is a fundamental concern to farriers,” the Newmarket, England, farrier told attendees at the 2013 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati. “It seems to me, we’re trying to do some highfalutin science at times. We haven’t done the basic low hanging fruit stuff.”
Curtis is researching hoof growth for a post-graduate degree at England’s University of Central Lancashire. His research project is titled, “The effect of weight-bearing and loading upon hoof growth of the Thoroughbred foal.”
The studies indicate some intriguing possibilities about hoof growth rate, surprising indications about horn development before and after birth, as well as the potential to better predict the full regrowth of hoof wall.
If one is to study hoof growth, a standard must be set on how the measurements will be made. What points will be measured? How reliable will those points be? Are they repeatable?
“You cannot possibly measure to the bottom of the hoof, because that is influenced by the rasp, where the foal goes and wear,” Curtis explains. “So really, you need to find a…