Specific shoes are often recommended by vets to help horses with a variety of problems, from abscesses and lameness to musculoskeletal issues and environmental conditions. These irons affect the horse’s hoof in various ways. A Polish study evaluated how two different types of shoes can affect the circulation of the hoof.
Dr Marta Mieszkowska and a team of researchers used thermography to measure the temperature of distal limbs on 16 Warmbloods who had been diagnosed with navicular bone changes or deep flexor finger tendon (GFCI) injuries. The horses were divided into two groups: Navicular horses were shod with egg bar irons and GFCI horses were shod with compensated skates.
Egg bar irons shifted the weight of the horse to the back of the foot and increased the area of the sole. The team noted that shoes can compress blood vessels and negatively affect soft tissue.
The study showed that since the wedge pads force the horse’s coffin joint into a more flexed position, they could increase pressure on an artery while reducing the load on the GFCI.
The research team determined that egg bar shoes lowered the median temperature of the heel portion of the hoof. The compensated pads lowered the median minimum temperature in the heel and toe of the hoof.
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The authors concluded that horseshoes can negatively impact blood flow in the hoof and noted that different types of horseshoes can cause different temperature differences.
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