Just the Facts?

Equine vet Dave Ramey says results from recent shoeing studies don’t always agree with past practices and assumptions

For decades, farriers have held to long-accepted standards and practices. Yet how accurate are these dogmatic principles?

“Only in the past couple of decades have investigators spent any time on how what we do to horses’ feet affects various structures of the equine limb,” suggests equine veterinarian David Ramey. “Close to 100 studies have been done over the past couple of decades using things like force plates and strain gauges to look at the effects of various shoeing and trimming techniques on horse limbs.

“Data frequently hits us in the face. If we take a look at this data, we should be able to more effectively manage the horses we take care of.”

Integrating this information into your shoeing or veterinary practice will help the horses you work on. Here are some insights and opinions based on research studies that were analyzed for an International Hoof-Care Summit presentation by Ramey who practices in Calabasas, Calif.

Effects Of Shoeing

Horses are shod for two main reasons: to prevent hoof wear and to improve performance.

“There are certainly horses whose situations don’t require shoes,” he says. But regardless of the breed, veterinarians or farriers may recommend interventions to help a horse move better. That intervention may focus on helping a Saddlebred move higher or a hunter move lower.

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Equine veterinarian David Ramey believes skill and good judgment need to be used in conjunction with available research data when shoeing horses. He maintains it is very critical to look and listen to what…

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