The influence of body mass and height on hoof conformation and symmetry

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference Keynote speech


Despite the knowledge that the hoof is a deformable structure influenced by the load placed on it, there is a lack of empirical evidence to link a horse's mass to variations in hoof conformation. A more thorough understanding of the factors that can influence hoof shape, could support practitioners involved in equine health and hoof care, in the prevention, or better treatment, of foot-based disorders; common causes of equine lameness. The primary aim of the study that is going to be discussed at the symposium was to investigate the relationship between the horses’ body size, in terms of mass and height, and the dimensions of the hooves of the forelimbs. The study further aimed to assess differences in hoof asymmetries as the horses body size increased. The height, mass, and fore hoof dimensions of 63 riding school horses were measured within two weeks following a routine shoeing interval. Hoof dimensions assessed were coronet band width (CBW); hoof base width (HBW); dorsal hoof wall angle (DHWA); and hoof spread (HS).
Following regression analysis, a positive relationship was determined between body mass and both CBW and HBW in both the left and right hooves, indicating basic hoof dimensions increased as body mass increased. Mass, or mass in conjunction with height was determined as more influential on the conformation of the hoof, than height alone. The lengths of the left and right DHW were moderately correlated; however, the DHWA was significantly greater in the right then the left hoof. As the DHWA of the left hoof increased, the HS on the left decreased. Both the left and the right hooves tended toward a more upright conformation as horse height and body mass increased. However, the asymmetries reported within the data suggest the left hoof displays a more splayed hoof, compared to the right hoof which presents a “boxier” conformation. These morphological adjustments indicate a variation in horn tubule orientation in response to greater structural loading; an important consideration for hoof practitioners.
Period10 Sept 202224 Sept 2022
Event titleInternational Farriery Research Symposium 2022
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational