The Influence of Different Hind Shoes and Bare Feet on Horse Kinematics at a Walk and Trot on a Soft Surface

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Abstract

Although often discussed in practice, there is a paucity of scientific evidence as to the effect of different shoes on equine locomotion on soft ground, especially in hind limbs. Our objectives were to determine the effect of different shoeing conditions on the locomotion of sound horses on a soft surface. Two-dimensional kinematic video analysis was performed in six horses during walk and trot in hand on the same sand surface under seven different shoeing conditions: (1) front feet shod with aluminum shoes and hind feet with steel racehorse shoes, same front shoes in combination with (2) hind egg bar shoes (EGB), (3) hind reverse shoes (REV); and (4) hind covered toe shoe (COV); (5) all four feet unshod; (6) fore feet unshod and hind steel race shoes; and (7) front aluminum shoe and hind feet unshod (hind bare feet [HBF]). We showed that, in comparison to condition 1 which was used as the reference, HBF increased stifle, hip and fore fetlock extension, the fore shod conditions increased carpus and shoulder flexion, COV showed little effect, REV increased elbow and shoulder extension, and EGB increased stifle and hip extension. For main limitations, the results could be different in other speeds, gaits, and surfaces. In conclusion, on sand, shod conditions and hind shoes largely influence upper limb joint motion and have a relatively small influence on distal limb joint motion. This needs to be considered when horses are shod to improve kinematics for performance purposes or when addressing clinical problems.

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