Dr. Meike van Heel

Study Supports Importance of Shorter Shoeing Intervals

Dutch researcher’s findings indicate more frequent hoof care may ease certain stresses

SUPPORTIVE FINDINGS. Dr. Meike van Heel, right, responds to attendees during the International Hoof-Care Summit. Van Heel has conducted studies that indicate that some stresses on the limbs are increased with longer shoeing intervals.

Farriers have long tried — with varying degrees of success — to convince horse owners that regularly scheduled appointments for trimming and shoeing are important for equine health.

Sometimes it’s a tough fight. The shoer may be able to share anecdotal evidence that a shorter interval between shoeings is beneficial, but those arguments sometimes have little effect when they bump up against a horse owner’s reluctance to pay the additional cost that more frequent trimming and shoeing will entail.

But research findings by Dr. Meike van Heel, a movement scientist and physiotherapist at the Equine Performance Laboratory at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, are providing some science to support the argument.

While van Heel’s research was centered on sport horses, specifically warmbloods, some of her findings would seem to hold true for other types of horses as well.

To date, van Heel’s research has taken 4 years and has led to the publication of seven scientific papers. She gave a summary of her research during the fourth annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, including the results of a study that concludes that shoeing a horse with a rolled toe does help to ease breakover (See “Evidence Supports Use Of Rolled Toe Shoes” on Page 31).

Van Heel noted at the beginning of her presentation that…

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Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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