Research Journal

Surface Effects On Hoof-Loading Patterns

Hoof researchers at Texas A&M University recently evaluated the solar load distribution in 25 normal horses. Barefoot untrimmed horses maintained on pasture had a 4-point (medial and lateral dorsal toe and heels) or 3-point (dorsal toe and heels) solar load pattern when standing on a hard surface, similar to that of wild horses and achieved by the 4-point trimming method. In contrast, when horses were kept on concrete for an extended period, those patterns were lost, resulting in increased contact of the peripheral wall, bars, and frog.

When evaluated on sand, the load pattern surface area increased, including most of the sole, indicating that ground deformability preferentially loads the sole. This suggests that the distal phalanx is not always totally suspended within the hoof capsule and that its ventral surface can be a weight bearing structure. Standard trimming resulted in an increase in ground surface contact area, including increased uniformity of bearing wall contact, increased contact of the peripheral sole and increased ground contact of the frog and bars.

They concluded that hoof conformation is adaptable to the ground surface and that unshod horses on pasture quickly develop the 3- or 4-point solar contact pattern. Standard trimming spreads load bearing over a larger area thus decreasing applied load to discreet regions, resulting in decreased risk of wall damage and increased uniformity of load distribution.

-Hood DM, Taylor D, Wagner IP. Effects Of Ground Surface Deformability, Trimming And Shoeing On Quasistatic Hoof Loading Patterns In Horses.

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