Monday, April 20, 2015

Thoroughbred study on safety: Something to be learned here?

A new study, Dynamic testing of horseshoe designs at impact on synthetic and dirt Thoroughbred racetrack materials,  will appear in an upcoming edition of the Equine Veterinary Journal. Not exactly light reading, but I browsed the summary article Study evaluates horseshows, track type, thoroughbred safety in The Horse Magazine.

Race trainers use all manner of "grips and grabs" on shoes to to affect how the horse's hoof encounters the track surface -- for soundness as well as performance. The gist of this study, suggests researcher Christy Mahaffey, is that shoeing does not affect performance nearly so much as the track conditions:

"Shoeing had little effect on loading during the primary and secondary
gait phases when the hoof comes in contact with the surface and slides
forward,” Mahaffey said. “What was also really interesting is that
changing the moisture content in the dirt surface did have a significant
effect on the loading—much more so than using different shoes.”
 Racing is an extreme sport, but maybe the other disciplines should take notice. We ask a lot of our farriers, and sometimes expect miracles. A great farrier is still a great farrier, and the hoof has to be balanced -- but in the end, the footing horses work on may have the greatest impact on a horse's soundness. 

Disclaimer: Nothing in the article suggests that we should extrapolate from racing to dressage, or to hunter/jumper disciplines. I just think it makes sense.

1 comment:

  1. This adds weight to my growing conviction that the sand footing in our little home arena has been the dominant factor in the numerous suspensory injuries my current and previous horse sustained. I don't have a watering system (or a big enough well to set one up) so in the summer the sand gets dry and shifty. My equine lameness specialist veterinarian husband poo-poos it, but I now refuse to ride in it when it's dry, instead schooling out and about in fields, vineyards, and on our gravel road.


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