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The first time Jeff Thomason attached strain gauges to a horse’s hoof was also the first step on what turned out to be a pretty ambitious quest.
“What I am trying to do, along with others who are conducting research in this area, is get the understanding of hoof anatomy and its interaction with shoes and tracks to a point where we can say to a farrier, if you do this type of thing to this type of horse on this type of surface, this is what the outcome will be,” he says. “We are trying to get to some predictability in all of this. That’s the Holy Grail of all of this research.”
Thomason adds that the Holy Grail is an apt comparison, noting that the final goal may never be attained.
“We may never actually get to that point,” he says. “But I do think we will be able to add to the ability of farriers to predict what can be expected. Ultimately, we want to help prevent mechanical injuries by helping them to take away risk factors.”
Thomason, Ph.D., is an anatomy professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. He is internationally known for his pioneering research on equine hoof anatomy and mechanics.
Much of his continuing research has involved placing strain gauges on the hooves of horses. Data from those gauges is gathered electronically as the horse moves. Thomason has studied deceleration…