Improvements on multiple aspects noted in 16-month study
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/23/2013 -- A new study by researchers at the Michigan State University's McPhail Equine Performance Center has noted there is hope for horse owners facing an underrun health and horses with flat-footed woes.
The study, which spanned 16 months, examined the effects of specific barefoot trimming, both short- and long-term effects, that the technique has on hoof conformation.
The study used seven previously barefoot horses who were trimmed every six weeks with a specific technique that leveled the hoof. The leveling carried all the way to the live sole, lowered the heels, and beveled the tow, in addition to rounding the peripheral wall.
"This study has shown that a group of school horses performed well and remained sound when trimmed so that the frog, bars, and sole of the foot were engaged in the weight-bearing function," explained Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, MRCVS, the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at MSU. "We believe it is important for these parts of the foot to contact the ground, not only to distribute the weight-bearing forces and to support the coffin bone from below, but also to provide the horse with proprioceptive input from receptor cells in the heels."
The first quarter of the study was to establish the hoof shape on the barefoot trim. Changes in the general morphing of the hoof were then monitored through the remaining months. At zero, four, and 16 months, the researchers took measurements of various aspects of the hoofs.
Throughout the progression of the study, subjects increased support length, heel angle, as well as solar angle and of the coffin bone.
"This research has shown that the feet do indeed adapt and become healthier," Clayton noted. "One of the interesting findings was that in response to weight-bearing on the frog and bars, the entire heel region migrated back underneath the limb, leading to an increased weight-bearing area and an increase in heel angle. These findings offer hope for treating underrun heels."
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