A Closer Look at the Normal Asil Arabian Hoof

Veterinarians could be able to use this baseline data to identify prelaminitic changes in Arabian horses.
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A Closer Look at the Normal Asil Arabian Hoof
Nazem and his fellow researchers investigated numerous morphological (shape and structure) measures of the front hooves of 10 healthy Asil Arabian mares. | Photo: Erica Larson
Recent study results indicate that Arabian horses are prone to developing equine metabolic syndrome and, subsequently, laminitis. But subtle hoof morphology changes usually happen before a horse becomes lame. So it’s useful to know the difference between what’s normal and not normal.

That’s why Iranian researchers decided to go back—way back—in the breed. Specifically, they turned to the “original” Arabian horse, what they call the “Asil Arabian.” Distinguished as the purest of purebred Arabians, the Asil, or Iranian, Arabian breed dates back 5,000 years. It was to this pure-origin breed that scientists turned when they decided to truly understand what’s “normal” Arabian foot morphology.

“The ancestors of this breed were once native to the Iranian Plateau, and therefore we pointed directly to their breed for our study,” said Mohammad Naser Nazem, PhD, associate professor of radiology in the University of Kerman Shahid Bahonar School of Veterinary Medicine Department of Clinical Sciences, in Iran.

Nazem and his fellow researchers investigated numerous morphological (shape and structure) measures of the front hooves of 10 healthy Asil Arabian mares. They took radiographic readings of the coffin bone and surrounding soft tissues, documenting distances, ratios, and angles to develop a reliable standard for the breed. The team focused on obtaining internal measurements and external angles and ratios that would change in the case of a laminitic episode

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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