Horse Hoof Sole Packing Reduced Impact Vibrations in Pilot Study

The theory is that when the polyurethane pour-in packing absorbs the shock from the hoof impacting the ground, it prevents it from traveling further up the musculoskeletal system, where it could cause wear and tear injuries.
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horse hoof sole packing
Researchers found that a polyurethane pour-in packing absorbs shock from the hoof impacting hard surfaces, thus preventing it from traveling further up the musculoskeletal system and causing wear and tear injuries. This could benefit horses that work on hard surfaces regularly, like police horses. | Photo: iStock

Some work on hard surfaces can help increase the loading rates of a horse’s internal structures, but too much or repetitive hard-surface work can lead to musculoskeletal damage. Ideally, horses should work on a variety of surfaces with minimal hard-surface exercise, most researchers agree. But sometimes, that’s not an option.

“Police horses spend a majority of their time on city streets and other hard roads, for example,” said Amy L. Barstow, MRCVS, PhD candidate, of the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, the U.K. “So do leisure horses sometimes, especially in periods of drought like the U.K. is having right now. Not all owners have access to soft arena surfaces. So, finding a practical solution to this problem was necessary.”

Barstow and colleagues recently investigated a pour-in polyurethane sole packing materials for that purpose. They found that it helps reduce certain forms of vibrations and forces in the hoof, at least in their introductory study. The theory is that when the polyurethane absorbs the shock from the hoof impacting the ground, it prevents it from traveling further up the musculoskeletal system where it could cause wear and tear injuries

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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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