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Researchers at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England, say there’s no definite answer when it comes to determining if there is a relationship between hoof shape and lameness. The key question is whether odd-shaped hooves have a greater-than-average risk of becoming lame or does a lame horse undergo hoof conformation alterations due to changes in circulation, weight bearing or other factors related to unsoundness.
The researchers compared the front hooves of 25 sound horses with 427 hooves from lame horses. In 20% of the cases, the hooves of lame horses were taller and more upright than with the sound hooves. The lame hoof also had a longer toe and a lower, more collapsed heel than the sound hoof in 10% of the horses. Chronically lame horses tended to have hooves with divergent growth rings and non-parallel alignment of horn tubules.
Veteran shoers often tell newcomers that it pays to invest in high-quality tools because they will cost less in the long run due to lasting longer. But many novices don’t have the dollars to invest in quality tools. Dan Bradley, a farrier from Lucedale, Miss., and a clinician for G.E. Forge & Tools, suggests putting together a budget to invest in high-quality tools. Decide on the amount of dollars you’ll invest in better tools and set up a 6- or 12-month schedule for making the purchases.