Treading On New Possibilities

For years, treadmills have been used as a tool to diagnose lameness and hoof flight. But is all the fuss worthwhile?

They're neither compact nor portable.

So why would farriers subscribe to the idea of utilizing an equine treadmill for their clients’ horses?

It’s simple. Treadmills allow you to watch the horse’s foot motion from a unique point of view. When videotaped, they allow you to slow down the motion and determine exactly when the foot hits the ground and how it makes contact. 

Some farriers and vets see great potential for using a treadmill to better understand hoof flight, while others say it’s a bunch of hooey. And like many things in the farrier profession, this one doesn’t lend itself to a consensus. 

How Does It Work?

No one will dispute the fact that the treadmill allows the observer to see close-up and firsthand how the hoof acts in motion. It’s much more than just an occasional conditioning program for horses.

“It’s a platform that allows you to observe a hoof’s flight,” says Tom Ivers, a researcher and president of Equine Racing Systems, Inc., in Washougal, Wash. “With a good video camera, you can tape the hoof action and play it back frame by frame and see the hoof’s flight from different angles, its impact and all phases of the stride.

“From the side of the hoof, you can look at the overall stride and see how the entire gait is affected by a shoeing change. But mainly, the best use is the visualization of hoof flight and impact.”

Ivers purchased a treadmill years ago for his business. While it…

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