One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other: Hoof Asymmetry In Horses Not Indicator Of Lameness

A recent study looked at the weight distribution on horse's feet to determine if the difference in wall angles between front legs offered different weight distributions per limb. While no discernible difference could be found regarding asymmetry, the method by which they tested the hooves could be used to detect early signs of lameness, reports Horse Talk.

Horses that have asymmetric hooves have different horizontal braking force and timing of break-over in their front end. The center of pressure (COP) path determines the dynamic load distribution under the hoof when a horse is moving. The COP shows the interaction between all forces on a limb.

Researchers Sandra Nauwelaerts, Sarah Jane Hobbs and Willem Back set out to determine if differences in the hoof wall angle between front legs created asymmetry in the COP path between limbs. To do this, they used 31 sound horses of various breeds and degrees of hoof wall asymmetry. Of these test horses, 10 were shod and 11 were barefoot.

The horses used in the study were trotted three times over a pressure mat that determined the COP path with a motion analysis system of high-speed cameras. The video footage was then synced with the pressure data.The study team then looked for a relationship between the paths and the degree of hoof wall asymmetry.

Some patterns were found between the path and the hoof wall angle, but asymmetry in the hoof wall did not necessarily correlate with asymmetry in the COP path. As this unique system can locate changes in muscle force, kinetics, motor control and inertial properties, the researches feel that it could be used as an early lameness detection tool.

Interestingly, the left hooves of all horses (whether symmetric of asymmetric) were usually larger. As every COP path was unique, they also noted that many shapes of the COP paths were possible in sound horses—there was not one specific sound path shape.

Further research is needed, the scientists say.

Read the full study in Plos One here.

The post One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other: Hoof Asymmetry In Horses Not Indicator Of Lameness appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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