Effect of roller-toed shoes on the kinetics of breakover in the hind limb in sound trotting horses
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Summary Reasons for performing study: Overload injuries in sport horses commonly occur. Shoeing techniques are believed to be important to prevent these injuries. It has been demonstrated that roller-toed shoes ease the process of breakover in front feet and decrease the loading of lesion prone structures of the distal limb. Considering the similar functional anatomy of distal forelimb and hind limb segments, the same effect could be expected in hind feet, but this has not been proven yet. Objectives: To test the effect of roller-toed shoes on the breakover process in hind feet. Methods: Four clinically sound Warmblood horses were trotted by hand over a track containing a pressure measuring system. The horses were randomly shod with three types of shoes, a standard flat shoe and two roller-toed shoes with a mild en full rounding in the entire toe part respectively. Between the measurements the horses had 2 or 3 days to adapt to the shoes. Variables representative of temporal gait characteristics, loading characteristics and descriptives for the hoof-unrollment pattern were used for statistical analyses. Results: Hoof placement and the temporal characteristics such as total stance time and breakover duration did not change significantly. Both roller-toed shoes increased the ease of movement during breakover due to a more gradual and smooth hoof-unrollment pattern. The effect was larger in the full roller-toed shoe compared with the flat shoe, than in the mild roller-toed shoe. Furthermore the roller-toed shoes changed the hoof-unrollment pattern to the lateral side. Conclusions: Roller-toed shoes increased the ease of movement during breakover in hind feet, which improves the coordination of this process and lowers the peak loading of the distal limb during this process. Potential relevance: This pilot study showed that roller-toed shoes have a similar effect on the kinetics of breakover in hind feet as has been demonstrated in front feet. Considering the functional and kinematic differences between forelimbs and hind limbs, further research will be necessary to demonstrate that the use of roller-toed shoes is relevant in hind feet.