Monday 7 December 2009

Shod hooves and shock absorption

I took some footage of a couple of shod horses the other day, at random - they were literally the first two shod horses I came across, and I wanted to see if it was possible to compare shock absorption in healthy and unhealthy hooves.

The barefoot horse is Hector, who had a toe first landing and weak digital cushion when he first came here but has been a hard-working barefoot horse for over a year now, as documented in earlier blogs!

Its interesting to see how the weakness of the caudal hoof in the shod horses affects their ability to shock-absorb - you can see the concussion affecting the limb even in walk. In the shod horses, the fetlock also sinks lower as they have much less effective spring and recoil than the barefoot horse.

Another big shock is the poor medio-lateral balance on these shod horses - they land unevenly and you can see in slow motion the stress this places on other joints, as hocks and fetlocks twist as they take the load - and this is only at walk!

I filmed these shod horses by chance - of course not all shod horses will show this level of imbalance - but what I didn't expect was the way that every step looks more of an effort for them (not surprising after all, I suppose, if they are unable to use their stored energy as efficiently as they should be able to), and how disconnected they appear when they make contact with the ground.


cptrayes said...

How often doyou see those wobbling hocks and fetlocks - everywhere! It's the only way they can absorb the shock I guess, let the leg squidge (good technical term that) otu sideways.


Clare said...

I hope the owners see this footage !!!

Nic Barker said...

Isn't it interesting? I've just been talking to one of the UKNHCP farriers, and he says that the only way to reduce the joint stress and collapse of the caudal hoof is to shoe with pads and aluminium. He and I are now on a mission to get more shod horse footage :-)

sarahh said...

When you watch the two in comparison it looks like Hector is floating, his gait is SO much less laborious!