Therapeutic Shoeing for Tendon Injuries: Not One Size Fits All

German researchers found hoof angle changes affect horses differently and might create new problems.

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Therapeutic Shoeing for Tendon Injuries: Not One Size Fits All
Based on her study, Hagan recommended that farriers and veterinarians working on horses with tendon issues take the time to evaluate every single patient carefully in stnance and walk with a focus on toe conformation and hoof-ground contact during motion. | Photo: The Horse Staff

A horse’s injured tendon is likely to heal better if it’s got less strain on it. Corrective shoeing that changes the hoof’s angle in relation to the ground can affect the strain on the tendons of the distal (lower) limb. But according to a new study, changing the hoof’s orientation doesn’t always relieve the superficial and deep flexor tendons in the intended way. In some cases, to reduce strain the angle would have to be modified so much it could create new problems.

“Popular shoeing recommendations to relieve fetlock-related structures through a change in hoof angulation often don’t work and cannot be generally assumed for each horse,” said Jenny Hagen, DrMedVet, of the Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, Histology, and Embryology in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Leipzig University, in Germany.

The Study: 30 Horses and Six Hoof Wedges

In their study, Hagen and her fellow researchers placed wedges under the toes of heels of 30 barefoot horses. They used duct tape to attach three different sizes of wedges, creating six changes in hoof angle: 5°, 10°, and 20° each of toe and heel wedges. They then took radiographic and ultrasound measurements to see how the wedges affected various morphometric (size and shape) and biomechanical parameters

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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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