Laminitic Horses May Benefit From Hoof Casts And Heel Wedges

New research from shows that elevating a laminitic horse’s heel using a wedge and hoof cast can help alleviate some of the pain associated with the condition.

The breakover phase of a horse’s stride is the most painful part for horses suffering from acute laminitis. This is when the heaviest load is placed on the toe and middle region of the hoof. The goal of the new therapy was to try to shift the load from the most-painful area of the hoof onto undamaged areas.

Drs. Al Naem, Lutz-Ferdinand Litzke, Klaus Failing, Johanna Hoffmann, Michael Röcken and Florian Geburek medically treated eight horses with acute laminitis and also applied a hoof cast with a heel wedge.

Measurements were taken with the cast in place and when the cast was removed, when the horse was barefoot. The hoof print was divided into toe, middle hoof and heel region,  and measurements were taken that included vertical force, stance duration, contact area while standing, duration of breakover, vertical force on the toe during breakover, and location of the center of force.

The scientists determined that both the vertical force and contact area were higher in the heel region when the horse was wearing both the wedge and the cast, but that decreased once each was removed. The breakover phase lasted just 2 percent of the stance phase when the horse had the cast and wedge in place; it was 6 percent of the stance phase when the horse was barefoot.

The team concluded that heel elevation significantly shortened the breakover phase and decreased the vertical force in the toe region. They suggest that the application of a wedge and a cast to the affected hooves of a horse with laminitis will decreases the stress on the lamellae and reduce pain. The researchers did note that long-term application of a wedge and cast may result in crushed heels, cracks or misplaced bulbs, so they suggest that these tools be limited to two to three weeks of use.

Read the full article here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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