Influence of growth-related changes in hoof shape on hoof wall mechanics
Surface strains were recorded, using rosette strain gauges for the right front hoof of five horses. Hoof shape was quantified by five measurements: toe length, toe angle, heel angle, medial wall length, and lateral wall length. Recordings and measurements were repeated weekly for five weeks (between shoeings). Relationships were examined between strains (peak compressive strain, time-to-peak, strain orientation) and time, the shape measurement and time, and between strain and shape. Toe length, medial wall length, and lateral wall length increased significantly with time but heel angle and toe angle did not. None of the strain variables showed significant relationships with time or with the shape measurements. The greatest source of variation was from stride to stride, possibly masking other trends. The small changes in hoof shape did not cause significant alteration in its mechanical function.