Shoeing Techniques to Optimize Hind Hoof Unrollment

Researchers evaluated shoeing options to optimize hind hoof unrollment (or toe movement through the stride).
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One of the many tools farriers use in shoeing horses is the clips they strategically build into horse shoes. A team of scientists in The Netherlands noticed that over the years fully fitted, toe-clipped shoes in the hind feet have given way to set-back, side-clipped shoes in their part of the world. Additionally, previous research had shown that rolling horses’ toes encouraged smooth hoof unrollment (or toe movement through the horse’s stride) in the forelimbs. So the team set out to identify which option best encouraged optimal hind hoof unrollment.

In the study, the team—led by Bernadette Spaak, DVM, MSc, a veterinary surgeon at the Ambulatory Clinic for Animals, in Utrecht, the Netherlands—explained that weight distribution across the foot is an important consideration for horses in many disciplines, and the differences in hind leg movement as compared to foreleg movement can result in different pressures on the foot.

Terms to Know

Breakover: The moment the heels lift off the ground

  • Unrollment: The toe’s movement through the horse’s stride
  • Toe clip: A single clip on the front of the shoe
  • Side clips: A pair of clips with one on each side of the shoe
  • Breakover: The moment the heels lift off the ground

The hind limbs tend to slide when they contact the ground rather than bounce as the front limbs do, the team explained, so they take on more forward-and-back force than up-and-down force, especially during turns and sideways motions. While toe-clipped shoes are common for many horses, Warmbloods are typically shod with side clips on the hind feet to shift their breakover point farther back and prevent them from interfering with the front hooves when moving

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Written by:

Natalie Voss is a freelance writer and editor based in Kentucky. She received her bachelor’s degree in equine science from the University of Kentucky and has worked in public relations for equine businesses and organizations. She spends her spare time riding her Draft cross, Jitterbug.

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