The hoofs have significant meaning on the wellbeing of a horse. If they are not taken care of properly it can lead to lameness and a wide range of health problems. Therefore, the farrier of course is indispensable. But how often does your horse need shoeing? Scientists and other professionals have been in doubt for a very long time, but here is some good news: Finally, an English research study supply you with an answer.
About the investigation
26 horses were involved in the project. To create even more valid results all horses were placed at the same location at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, UK. They all participated in the same program before and during the tests. The horses had 45 minutes of exercise daily and a weekly day off. None of the horses wore custom made shoes and all horses were healthy.
During the trial they were all shoed every sixth week. All hoofs were measured from different angles both lateral (outside measurements) and dorsal (front of the hoofs). Hereafter, the positions of legs and pressure was calculated after shoeing.
Before trimming the hoofs, scientists discovered that the dorsal angle was smaller. This can lead to more pressure on the heel because the weight of the horse is placed more at the back.
X-ray of a front hoof. The dorsal aspect is the outside angle. The smaller the angle is the more pressure is placed on the back of the hoof. On the other hand, the dorsal angle must not be too “sharp” because then the horse will basically walk on its toes. Photo: Horse Side Vet Guide
Increased pressure on the back of the hoof also creates a higher risk of ligament injuries. After trimming the hoofs it was clear that the position was more vertical and this affected the rest of the hoof and leg positively.
During this experiment scientist concluded that horses after shoeing had a remarkable reduced ligament-pressure. The result was that the longest a horse could wait for shoeing or trimming was between 4-6 weeks. If this is followed it reduces injuries for most horses, they said.
Have a professional farrier evaluating your horse
The research demonstrates that the longer between shoeing or trimming the more the weight distribution changes in the hoofs. This weight can cause injuries. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask a farrier for advice on how long between trimming or shoeing. This way you avoid a congestion of tendons and joints.
Some hoofs grow faster than others so the better the farrier knows your horse the more precise counselling he or she can provide for you.
If you want to know more about the research you can find it here.