Manipulating Foot Function

While the impact of shoeing on foot function is well documented, the biomechanics aren’t as easily understood

There’s been plenty of hoof research conducted on foot function over the years. And a general summary of existing research data conducted by Andy Parks indicates nailing on steel shoes limits the expansion of the foot and increases the magnitude and frequency of impact vibrations as the foot hits the ground. 

The equine veterinarian at the University of Georgia and a member of the American Farriers Journal International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame, adds that it is well known that some shoe and pad combinations can lead to extensive remodeling of the foot.

Parks presented a paper on the “Aspects of Functional Anatomy of the Distal Limb” at the early December meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in Anaheim, Calif. It was among five research papers presented during an in-depth session dealing with the equine foot.

Heels And Breakover

With horses suffering from navicular disease, Parks says heel elevation and moving the point of breakover in a palmar direction are typical shoeing adjustments. The goal is to take pressure off the navicular bone while easing breakover.

He says many farriers find that elevating the heels leads to increased flex in the interphalangeal joint. Even when the horse is at rest, elevating the heels moves the center of pressure toward the center of rotation of the distal interphalangeal joint.

By shortening the movement arm that is exerted on the hoof by the ground, tension in the deep digital flexor tendon is reduced as shown in Figure 1. A reduction…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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