Mediolateral foot imbalance has been cited as a prolific cause of, or a predisposing factor for equine lameness (Stashak 1987; Balch et al. 1995; Wilson et al. 1998). Wilson et al. (1998) demonstrated that the elevation of one area of the equine foot results in an increased load in the region. They conclude a horse is unable to compensate for acute foot imbalance by redistributing the load under the foot.
There is widespread disagreement among hoof-care professionals on the definition of foot balance. We refer to balance relating to the shape and size of the hoof and how the hoof relates to the skeletal structures of the limb and the ground. As such, the term balance refers not only to the geometry of the hoof, but to the way it functions. Balance should be considered as a concept rather than a rigid guideline.
Hoof conformation refers only to hoof capsule morphometrics when the limb is at rest. Hoof capsule conformation and dynamic foot balance can only be quantified when the foot is considered with the size, shape and the spatial orientation and function with the parts of the individual limb. Conformation is used here to refer to the shape, size and orientation, excluding the foot, of the limb at rest.
Farriery texts propose diverse theories for the maintenance of broadly similar morphometric mediolateral static balance models. Citing a morphometric mediolateral hoof conformation model similar to Russell (1887), Williams and Deacon (1999) and others (Stashak 2002 and Butler 2005)…