OBJECTIVE To determine and compare the effect of hoof boots (HBs) and shoes with a toe extension on stance duration, ground reaction force, and sole length in contact with the ground in nonlame horses during walking.
ANIMALS 6 nonlame Standardbreds.
PROCEDURES Force plate gait analyses of the forelimbs were performed while the horses were walking barefoot before manipulation of feet (baseline), while the horses were walking fitted with HBs, while the horses were walking shod with toe-extension shoes, and while the horses were walking barefoot after shoe removal. Horses underwent radiography of both forelimb feet to determine the sole length in contact with the ground when barefoot, wearing HBs, and shod with toe-extension shoes. Stance duration, ground reaction force, and sole length were compared among the various walking sessions.
RESULTS Compared with baseline findings, stance duration increased significantly when horses were fitted with HBs (7%) or toe-extension shoes (5%). Peak forelimb ground reaction force was similar among walking sessions; however, time of braking force peak was significantly greater during the stance phase only when horses wore HBs. Also, the sole length in contact with the ground was significantly longer in horses fitted with HBs (14.3 cm) or shod with the toe-extension shoes (17.6 cm), compared with that for one of the barefoot hooves (12.7 cm).
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE In nonlame horses, use of HBs prolonged the stance time and time of braking force peak, which is indicative of a slower deceleration phase during limb impact with the ground. Also, the use of HBs prolonged the deceleration phase of the stride and increased the sole length in contact with the ground.