Journal of the Horse/August 2015: Revista Brasileira de Saúde a Produção Animal Salvador/ July/September 2013
The paper looks at problems in the forelimb hoof of competition horses across four common horse sports in El Salvador. The researchers used biometry (the statistical analysis of biological observations and phenomena) to evaluate the hoof imbalances of thirty horses, each from the sports of polo, show jumping, long rope (roping), and barrel racing.
In order to calculate hoof biometry, linear measurements of toe length, quarter length, heel length, hoof length, frog length, hoof width and heel height were taken, as well as the angle of the toe, pastern, and heel. The angle of the shoulder was also taken from all animals except those participating in long rope. The length of the horseshoe, circumference of the coronet, and total body weight were also recorded. Forelimb conformation was assessed with horses scored as having convergent toes (left or right), divergent toes (left or right), or normal conformation.
Biometric comparison of horses’ hooves were made through hoof length, hoof weight, frog length, frog weight, toe length, medial heel length, lateral heel length, medial heel height, lateral heel height, foot size (pounds per square inch), shoulder angle, toe angle, and pastern angle. The study linked biometric comparisons of the horses’ feet to the prevalence of several common hoof imbalances, namely broken-backward and broken-foreword hoof angles, under-run heels, contracted heels, sheared heels, mismatched hoof angles, and small feet (in relation to pounds per square inch), and examined the ways in which these imbalances may wear on a horse’s skeletal and muscular systems as well as its tendons.
Among disciplines, the greatest number of hoof imbalances were seen in the long rope, followed by barrel racers, which happened to be the most popular sports in the test sample region. The highest number of broken-backward hoof angles were found in barrel racers. Contracted heels were found to be related more to other factors, such as improper trimming or genetic background. Small foot size was found to be a problem in long rope and barrel horses, but not jumping or polo horses. The authors judged this to likely be a result of more Quarter Horses and Quarter Horse mixes being involved in those sports than the others, since small hooves are common problems in the Quarter Horse breed.
To view the research in its entirety go to http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1519-99402013000300017