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The effects of trimming on foot morphology: A Preliminary Report - Radiometric and photometric comparison of 22 horses and four bare foot hoof care models (Dr. Brian Hampson)


There are many models of practice for equine hoof care which all claim to produce desirable outcomes for the foot health of horses (DUCKETT, 1990; JACKSON, 1997; O’GRADY, 2003; OVNICEK, 1995; OVNICEK, 2003; STRASSER, 2004). These models are based, among other factors, on certain morphological features of the hoof capsule that can be manipulated by nipping and rasping the sole and hoof wall, the application of a variety of external devices including horse shoes, and encouraging wear and new hoof capsule growth in a predictable pattern. While proponents of the various models are confident in their particular methods and claim anecdotal evidence of their successful application, there appears to be little published evidence of the comparison of the effectiveness of methodologies in obtaining morphological changes to the hoof capsule and therefore affecting foot health and function. Clayton et al, (2011) documented hoof capsule morphological changes in response to one model of hoof trimming and determined that these changes can be observed and accurately measured in both the short and long term. Similar methodology can be employed in comparative studies to document the responses of the equine hoof capsule to various hoof care trimming models. The determination of these responses may assist those people responsible for horse husbandry to make better informed decisions regarding hoof care options available to them.

1 Methodology

The response of hoof morphology to four models of hoof trimming was investigated radiometrically and photometrically in a multi-site comparative study over a 12 month period. Consistent data collection methodology was employed at each location. Each of the four locations represented one of four hoof care models. Each horse in each location received hoof care from the same practitioner. Feet where managed at approximately six week intervals for the duration of the study. The models were The HoofPrint Method (HP), Barefoot Hoof Orthopaedics (BHO), Natural Hoof Care (NHC) and Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners (PHCP).

Subjects: Six mixed-breed horses used for recreational purposes at each of three locations and four horses at one location (n=22). Prior to commencement of the study each horse received no particular formal hoof care model for the previous 12 months and was not recently trimmed prior to the study.

Radiometric procedure: Twelve radiometric parameters (Figures 1 and 2) were measured from a calibrated and standardised latero-medial digital radiograph of the left forefoot of each horse on day 1, prior to the first intervention, and following 12 months of regular hoof care. A fixed focal length of 70 mm was used and the foot was placed on a standardised wooden block with a 100 mm steel bar in the sagittal centre for measurement calibration. The dorsal hoof wall margin was marked using a steel wire placed from the coronary band to the distal hoof wall in the mid sagittal centre.

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