By Dr. Jennifer Christine Gill (Department of Agriculture, Western Kentucky University), Dr. Steve Huskey (Department of Biology, Western Kentucky University) and Chuck York (York Farrier Service). 

Evaluating hoof load is important to understand how the hoof interacts with the ground surface. The distribution of load has been known to change from the perimeter of the hoof wall to the entire sole surface on hard and soft terrains, respectively.

The objectives of this preliminary study was to propose a new model for evaluating pressure of the foot, and determine the effect of a hoof boot on the distribution of load on different terrains at a walk.

A 10-year-old, 1,050 lb., Quarter Horse mare was walked over Fugi Prescale Low pressure film (Sensor Products Inc., Madison, NJ; detection range of 350-1400 PSI) on grass, crushed stone fines, and concrete, while barefoot and booted (Cavallo TREK regular hoof boots). Individual barefoot and booted front hoof prints were sent to Sensor Products Corp. for analysis by Topaq imaging software.

Pseudocolor imaging showed the variation in pressure over the solar surface, as well as the variables, average pressure (PSI), standard deviation (PSI), contact area (sq. in), total area (sq. in), force (ibf), minimum pressure (PSI), and maximum pressure (PSI). Preliminary testing showed that the hoof boots distributed the pressure over a larger surface area and reduced average pressure on concrete (average pressure: barefoot 824.58 PSI; booted 779.97 PSI) and crushed stone fines (average pressure: barefoot 587.12 PSI; booted 549.37 PSI), but that the tread of the boot may have concentrate pressure on the perimeter of the boot on a deformable surface, such as grass (average pressure: barefoot 451.32 PSI; booted 498.16 PSI). On the grass terrain, the bare hoof was able to distribute more pressure over areas of the sole and frog. Therefore, depending on the ground surface, a different type of hoof boot tread may be warranted.