Evaluating and Measuring Hoof Shape

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, recently developed a new three-dimensional system for measuring various aspects of the horse's sole. One day their work might help ascertain if hoof shape abnormalities can be predictors of impending injury. Additionally, the system might help researchers design new footwear and/or evaluate the foot during movement.

Susan Stover, DVM, PhD; biomedical engineer Elizabeth Roland (Barrows), MS; and other researchers completed the project, which was published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research.

They used fresh cadaver limbs from horses euthanized at California racetracks and designed an objective system for determining hoof measurements and relative symmetry of structures. They used the collateral sulci (grooves) on either side of the frog as the basis for determining the X axis (mediolateral reference line extending from toe to heel) of the foot. Researchers felt that the depth of the sulci was important to other hoof structures, and that sulci aren't prone to adaptation by routine hoof trimming. Outsiders tested the reproducibility of the system.

Researchers wrote, "Additional information is needed before the cause and effect relationships between hoof conformation, injury, and adaptations to injury and exercise can be established. Regardless, the standard measurement system allows comparison between hooves of normal horses and those of horses with hoof and leg problems. Knowledge of hoof shape may also assist in the development of simulations of hoof-surface interactions."--Fran Jurga and Stephanie L. Church

About the Author

Fran Jurga

Fran Jurga is the publisher of Hoofcare & Lameness, The Journal of Equine Foot Science, based in Gloucester, Mass., and Hoofcare Online, an electronic newsletter accessible at www.hoofcare.com. Her work also includes promoting lameness-related research and information for practical use by farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners. Jurga authored Understanding The Equine Foot, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604.

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