Is There a Link Between Limb Length Disparity and Asymmetrical Feet?

A study measured the hooves of a small group of horses used in a previous study that examined limb length disparity

A commonly encountered anomaly when the front feet of the horse are compared is the occurrence of two differently shaped and sized front feet, which can be defined as so-called “uneven” feet1. Frequently the smaller hoof will be quite differently shaped from its partner, with more growth height occurring at the heels and converging compression marks occurring midway on the anterior hoof wall (Figure 1).

The appearance of this type of hoof has led to the belief that the hoof is contracted, while the larger hoof is thought to have gained its size due to bearing more weight2.

In 2011, Parés developed a non-linear model for estimating hoof surface area in unshod Cavall Pirinec Catalá horses3. Pere Parés and Maarten Oosterlinck then used the developed hoof surface area equation to investigate hoof size and symmetry in young Catalan Pyrenean horses reared under semi-intensive conditions4. This study found a significant occurrence of left-right symmetry — 98%, for hoof surface area. In 2014, I used this technique for an assessment of static asymmetry in 10 unbroken horses at pre and post trim of the hooves5.

Limb length disparity (LLD) has been previously classified into two categories – structural and functional6. Structural LLD refers to an asymmetry in bone length when compared between a pair of limbs while functional LLD refers to an asymmetry in the muscular build up and the angles that joints form with each other when compared…

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Marc Jerram

BSc (Hons), AWCF, Master Farrier

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