An Investigation into the Effects of Changing Dorso-Plantar Hoof Balance on Equine Hind Limb Posture

Animals (Basel). 2022 Nov 24;12(23):3275. doi: 10.3390/ani12233275.


Links between poor hind hoof balance, pathologies in the hind limb and associated altered posture have been suggested but not quantified. The hoof is proposed as a neuro-sensory organ responsible for informing equine stance with implications for musculoskeletal health in the hind limb and trunk of the horse. This study aims to quantify equine limb posture and its relationship with hoof balance. Twelve horses presenting with negative plantar angles were photographed and limb posture documented before and after the creation of positive plantar angles and improved three-dimensional proportions around the centre of rotation of the distal-interphalangeal joint, using farriery prosthetics. The results showed that horses presenting with negative plantar angles had canted-in postures and that farriery intervention had a significant effect on hind limb orientation in seven of these horses. There was a significant difference in metatarsal angle pre and post intervention with the mean for pre intervention being 81.3° ± 5.1 and post intervention being 88.0° ± 3.8 in the right hind and 74.4° ± 3.7 and 87.1° ± 2.9 in the left hind. The findings of this study support the hypothesis that the hoof balance informs equine stance and can play a role in affecting limb posture.

Keywords: hind hoof balance; physiology; posture; proprioception; therapeutic farriery.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.