Immediate Effects of Shoeing on Horses’ Movement

Do you think your horse moves a bit unevenly after a trim? You might be right. Researchers recently showed that while routine farriery care had little influence overall on horses’ movement, horses do show some movement asymmetry after being trimmed.
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Do you think your horse moves a bit unevenly after a trim? You might be right. Researchers recently showed that while routine farriery care had little influence overall on horses' movement, horses do show some movement asymmetry after being trimmed.

Thilo Pfau, PhD, a lecturer in the Royal Veterinary College Department of Clinical Science and Services, presented recent research on the topic at the 2013 International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held Nov. 1-3 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"Horses are shod regularly to protect the hooves from excessive wear, keeping the horse sound and able to perform optimally," Pfau said. But it wasn't clear whether the acts of pulling shoes, trimming, and reshoeing themselves affect movement symmetry, a measurement veterinarians use to assess soundness. So Pfau and colleagues set out to evaluate the effects of four stages of routine farriery care on horses' movement symmetry.

The team employed 30 Irish Sport-type horses, ranging in age from 4 to 21, being shod at 2- to 3-week intervals. They evaluated each horse at four stages before and after shoeing: with the old shoes on, after shoe removal, after trimming, and after being reshod and dressed. The team used an inertial gait analysis system that collected data through small sensors attached noninvasively to the horse's poll and croup. The device then transmitted information about the horse's motion symmetry to a laptop computer for the veterinarian to evaluate

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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