A Closer Look at Foal Hoof Balance

Researchers found that hoof balance changes rapidly during the first few weeks of a foal’s life.
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foal hoof balance
Alterations in hoof balance seem to follow the conformational changes reported and observed in young foals, the researchers said. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

While foals are on their feet and mobile within hours of birth, gait and balance mature and stabilize over time. To learn more about the dynamic changes the hoof undergoes in the first six months, a team of Dutch researchers recorded pressure plate measurements at walk and trot from 10 Dutch Warmblood foals in their first 24 weeks.

The team measured toe-heel and medial-lateral (inside to outside) hoof balance asymmetry, as well as preferred landing strategy of the front and hind limbs.

“The results of this study showed that the dynamic hoof balance changes during early life in foals,” said Ben Gorissen, DVM, PhD, who conducted this research while a PhD candidate at Utrecht University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and is now a lecturer at Aeres MBO Almere, both in The Netherlands

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Freelance journalist Natalie DeFee Mendik is a multiple American Horse Publications editorial and graphics awards winner specializing in equestrian media. She holds an MA in English from Colorado State University and an International Federation of Journalists’ International press card, and is a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists. With over three decades of horse experience, Natalie’s main equine interests are dressage and vaulting. Having lived and ridden in England, Switzerland, and various parts of the United States, Natalie currently resides in Colorado with her husband and two girls.

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