Science & Equine

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Written by Lauren Carey Love

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Effects of frog-supportive shoes on hoof kinetics in ponies

Researchers from Utrecht University have compared the hoof kinetics between normal weight and obese Shetland ponies, barefoot and after application of frog-supportive shoes. Results interestingly showed obese ponies displaying signs of discomfort in barefoot gait. In all measures, both groups positively responded to these shoes, with the obese group markedly improving in gait.

10 Shetland mares (n=5 normal weight, n=5 obese) were enrolled, then under laboratory conditions trimmed to standard before being led over pressure plates. Furthermore, Imprint Shoes® were applied to front feet and repeated leading over pressure plates immediately, then after 72 hours. Each time measuring stance duration, vertical impulse, vertical force and peak vertical force (markers for gait measurement).

This is the first study to identify that the body condition score of ponies affects its gait, with obese ponies (barefoot) showing increased loading in the heel region and experiencing slower breakover time. The researchers recognise that this may be markers of discomfort in the ponies. Frog-supportive shoes have a positive biomechanical effect. Both groups displayed gait improvement in all measures when fitted with Imprint Shoes®. Outstandingly, at 72 hours, the obese group showed no significant difference in trot to the normal weight group.

Expert opinion by Lauren Carey Love

This study is important, as it has highlighted what may have been seen as “a typical Shetland waddling gait” may be an indicator of discomfort in the pony. Also this evidence can be used by the practicing farrier to encourage owners to shoe ponies for comfort when they are often overlooked.

Mouldable, thermoplastic, glue-on frog-supportive shoes change hoof kinetics in normal and obese Shetland ponies.

> From:  Sleutjens et al., 2018. Equine Veterinary Journal50(5), pp.684-689.All rights reserved to EVJ Ltd. Click here for the online summary

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