Predicting the Effects of Farriery Using a Computerized Model

A talented farrier and knowledgeable veterinarian can often do wonders for a lame horse. Applying corrective shoes can change the forces acting on the feet, improving many foot problems. Unfortunately, even the most talented farrier can overcorrect a horse's foot, perhaps making the lameness worse. Ideally, there should be a way for the veterinarian/farrier team to test the recommended changes prior to actually shoeing the feet.

Researchers from Austria recently developed a model hoof for computerized analysis of the mechanical effects of various shoeing techniques. The model is currently designed to evaluate only nail and clip combinations on a horseshoe.

In all models (secure versus loose nailing, toe clip, side clips, and toe clip plus caudal side clips), dominant stress areas were found in the bars, the outer layers of the proximal dorsal (upper front) wall, around the nails (especially the third nail), and around the clips. Loose nailing allowed stronger interaction of clips and hoof wall, which was a bit of a surprise, as was the finding that toe clips alone did little to change stress on the hoof capsule. Side clips combined with a toe clip showed the lowest stress value overall. This combination was not highly influenced by nailing conditions, either.

These results help explain why side clips used for coffin bone fracture and hoof cracks are usually successful. More work needs to be done on the model to truly validate it and expand the corrective procedures it can analyze.

Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement, 33, 58-62, 2001.

About the Author

Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD

Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD, is a free-lance writer in the biomedical sciences. She practiced veterinary medicine in North Carolina before accepting a fellowship to pursue a PhD in physiology at North Carolina State University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and two sons.

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