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An experimental study was conducted to compare the sole loading patterns and sole depth of feral horses from Northern Australia to Thoroughbreds.
Hooves were collected from 10 brumbies from each of three environments with soft, hard and a combination of footing. The brumby samples were collected following standard culling operations unrelated to the study. Thoroughbred limbs were collected from a commercial slaughter plant. Limbs were loaded in a hydraulic press on top of three substrates (flat rubber mat, gravel and sand) and at various loads.
Hooves from the soft environment were overgrown with flares, large fragments of wall broken away and arches in the quarters. Hooves from hard environments were worn short with smooth edges, no flares and little or no arch in the quarters. On occasion, the dorsal wall was worn excessively so that it was squared and concave. Peripheral aspects of the sole had more of a load-bearing function in brumbies compared with Thoroughbreds. Load-bearing surface areas varied significantly among the brumbry groups. Hooves from the hard environment had the largest load-bearing surface spread around the entire hoof wall and the sole periphery.
The central sole and frogs from the hard environment group did not load on a soft rubber mat until high forces were applied. In the combination and soft environment groups, loading areas were smaller and more concentrated. Loading occurred at each heel and broadly around the toe on the rubber mat. There was some loading of the frog, but generally little…