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Effects of squared-toe or perimeter-fit horseshoes on quality of movement and gait kinematics of the western pleasure horse

White, Laura, Underwood, Paeden, Hirtz, Libby, Hogue, Douglas, Walter, Kelly
The Professional animal scientists 2018 v.34 no.5 pp. 488-493
Quarter Horse, aluminum, computer software, gait, horses, industry, kinematics, longevity, professionals
Our objective was to evaluate gait quality and kinematics of the western pleasure horse shod with a squared-toe aluminum shoe (ST) in comparison with a perimeter-fit aluminum shoe (PF) on the thoracic digit. Nine Quarter horses were used in a repeated-measures study and randomly selected to be shod with either a ST or PF shoe for 6 wk and then reshod with the opposing treatment. Horses were videoed being ridden at the walk, jog, and lope 2 wk after each shoeing cycle. Evaluations of forelimb gait kinematics (stride length, metacarpophalangeal extension, humeroradial and carpal range of motion) were performed by EquineTec gait software analysis (Equine Tec Inc., Monroe, GA), and evaluation of quality of movement was conducted by 10 equine judging professionals. Quality of movement scores were not different (P > 0.45) for the walk, jog, or lope. Kinematic advantages of the PF treatment were revealed, including increased humeroradial extension (P < 0.05), increased (P < 0.02) carpal flexion at most gaits, increased (P < 0.01) carpal extension at most gaits, increased (P < 0.05) metacarpophalangeal extension at the jog and lope, and longer (P = 0.02) stride length at the lope. Results indicate that kinematic evaluation by video analysis software reveals advantages in stride length and thoracic limb extension of western pleasure horses when shod with the PF shoe. However, pragmatic evaluation by professional judges reveals no advantages to either treatment; therefore, the industry has the option to use a PF horseshoe and achieve the same quality of movement as the ST, while potentially amplifying the longevity of the western pleasure horse.