As far back as ancient Greece, horsemen have recognized the importance of the hoof, and the influence of the hoof-ground interface (on the way of going of the horse). Lacking the wings of Pegasos, real horses are subject to the shock of impact with the ground passing through their hooves and lower limbs.
Since almost those early times, humans have sought ways to mitigate the damage and maximize the efficiency of hoof-ground contact. Evidence for removable horseshoes dates to the 4th century B.C.1
Modern researchers have found a variety of factors that influence the interaction of the hoof with the ground and concussion through the limb including the composition of the surface, shoeing materials, speed of impact, angle of impact and hoof/limb shape.
Hoof-ground interaction has three phases during which the downward velocity converts to forward momentum.
Impact. As the hoof hits the ground, hoof velocity quickly slows, coming to a stop. This deceleration depends upon the ground surface and the foot velocity.
Mid-stance. In an article in the Equine Veterinary Journal, authors Rebecca Sarah Parkes and Thomas H. Witte describe mid-stance as “a period of hoof stability.”2 They explain that during mid-stance, the limb is loaded distal-proximal (hoof-toward body) and the force is transferred through the muscles and tendons of the limb.