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An experimental treadmill study was conducted with three healthy trotting horses to describe the three dimensional distal limb movements of horses with the application of 6-degree toe and heel wedges. Instead of skin markers, ultrasonic reflectors were attached to the hoof, short pastern, long pastern and canon bones of one forelimb using bone pins.
The durations of the stance phase, landing, weight bearing and breakover were not significantly altered with either toe or heel wedges. Backward rotation following contact at the toe and forward rotation following contact at the heels occurred during touch down with toe and heel wedges, respectively. Flexion and extension of the fetlock were not affected. Flexion and extension of the pastern and coffin joints, however, were significantly affected. With flat shoes and wedges, the lateral side of the hoof impacted first, followed by rocking toward the medial side. During breakover, the medial heel left the ground first with a lateral rocking motion.
These responses to heel wedges support the clinical impression that heel wedges lead to increased concussion and crushing of heels. The authors also point out that these results do not support the belief that elevating the heels decreases strain in the superficial digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligament.
—Chateau et al. EVJ 2006;38:164-169.
Front hooves of nine clinically normal warmblood horses were measured at 2 days and 8 weeks after shoeing. Changes in the magnitude and location of the ground…