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Do Metal Shoes Amplify Concussion?

Common sense tells us that metal shoes amplify concussion while they disable the healthy hoofs natural ability to absorb concussion.

Would we choose to put metal "tires" on cars, bycycles or other vehicles if we had the choice? If given the choice between rubber or leather soled shoes or walking on metal cleats on hard trail, which do you prefer? If you need cleats, would you choose to leave them on your feet for periods of 6 to 8 weeks?

Of course not.


YouTube - Seeing is Believing....

Highspeed shod touchdown - ouch
Highspeed video recording barefoot horse trot touchdown
A barefoot horse trotting on asphalt... see any concussion transmission?
Highspeed video recording troting barefoot horse touchdown
Real time Hoofmechanism nonshod Icelandic horse gate toelt

Highspeed recording fullblood horse training barefoot When watching this, check out the smooth, fluid movement and the lack of resistance in the horses body

Barefoot horse slow motion loping and trotting on gravel


Science backs up Common Sense

Below are the results of studies performed at research and teaching institutes that confirms what we should know using common sense.


Scientist Luca Bein at the University of Zurich in 1983 brought to light interesting findings about shock absorption in the hoof, comparing it in unshod and shod (with various materials) hooves.

According to his study, a hoof shod with a normal metal shoe lacks 60-80% of it natural shock absorption.

He also found that "A shod foot moving on asphalt at a walk receives three times the impact force as an unshod foot moving on on asphalt at a trot."

Another study in 19190 by Rudolf Zierold, working at the institute of Professor Lungwitz in Dresden, published the dissertation "About the Sensitive and Insensitive Laminae of the corium of the Horse".

Zierold found that, in outwardly appearing perfectly healthy, shod hooves, the sensitive laminae showed a significant increase in structural alterations when compared to that of unshod hooves, regardless of the age of the horse.

He furthermore stated that the implications of structural alterations in the lamellae of the corium are serious and far-reaching, when one considers that the entire weight of the horse (and far more, at faster gaits or jumps) is suspended by this connection between laminar corium and laminar horn (ie.the connective layer between the coffin bone and hoof capsule). Any pathological alterations from the normal, healthy structure predisposes toward numerous hoof problems (for example, coffin bone rotation).


See also - search for In vitro transmission and attenuation of impact vibrations in the distal forelimb

That metal shoes increase concussion / vibration is not in question, it is long proven and accepted - this is a main reason for the development of all manner of pads and even rubber shoes in an attempt to prevent increased concussion - indeed pads have been show to offer less concussion, but do not negate the other negative effects on the hoof Risa

In vitro transmission and attenuation of impact vibrations in the distal forelimb.
Equine Vet J Suppl. 1999 Jul;30:245-8.
PMID: 10659261 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Willemen MA, Jacobs MW, Schamhardt HC. Related Articles, Links
In vitro transmission and attenuation of impact vibrations in the distal forelimb.
Equine Vet J Suppl. 1999 Jul;30:245-8.
PMID: 10659261 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Equine Biomechanics Research Group, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

An in vitro model was developed and validated in vivo to quantify the attenuation (dampening) of impact vibrations, transmitted through the lower equine forelimb and to assess the effects of horseshoeing on this attenuation. The transsected forelimbs of 13 horses were equipped with custom-made hollow bone screws in the 4 distal bones, on each of which a tri-axial accelerometer could be mounted. The limbs were then preloaded while the impact was simulated by dropping a weight on the steel plate on which the hoof was resting. At the hoof wall, the distal, middle and proximal phalanx and at the metacarpal bone, the shock waves resulting from this impact were quantified. To assess the damping effects of shoeing, measurements were performed with unshod hooves, hooves shod with a normal flat shoe and hooves shod with an equisoft pad and a silicone packing between hoof and pad. The in vitro model was validated by performing in vivo measurements using one horse, and subjecting the limb of this horse to the same in vitro measurements after death. Approximately 67% of the damping of impact vibrations took place at the interface between the hoof wall and the distal phalanx. The attenuation of impact vibrations at the distal and proximal interphalangeal joints was considerably less (both 6%), while at the metacarpophalangeal joint 9% of the amplitude of that at the hoof wall was absorbed, leaving approximately 13% of the initial amplitude at the hoof wall detectable at the metacarpus. Compared to unshod hooves the amplitude at the hoof wall is 15% higher in shod hooves. No differences could be observed between shoe types. At the level of the first phalanx and metacarpus the difference between shod and unshod vanished; it was therefore concluded that, although shoeing might influence the amplitude of impact vibrations at the hoof wall, the effect of shoeing on the amplitude at the level of the metacarpophalangeal joint is minimal.

PMID: 10659261 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Related articles

Equine Vet J. 1994 Sep;26(5):362-6. Related Articles, Links
Equine hoof function investigated by pressure transducers inside the hoof and accelerometers mounted on the first phalanx.

Dyhre-Poulsen P, Smedegaard HH, Roed J, Korsgaard E.

Department of Medical Physiology, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The dampening of hoof impact was investigated by measuring the accelerations transmitted through structures of the hoof in horses trotting freely on an asphalt tarmac. The hoof dampened the vibrations transmitted to the first phalanx. Shoeing decreased the viscous dampening and increased the median power frequency and the maximal amplitude of the vibrations transmitted to the first phalanx. The pressure inside the digital cushion of the foreleg was recorded. The pressure dropped during the stance phase, indicating expansion of the hoof. The expansion of the hoof was not produced by frog or sole weight bearing because this would have increased the intra-digital cushion pressure. The pressure theory of hoof function must presumably therefore be rejected. Shoeing the horses augmented the intra-digital cushion pressure drop and probably impaired the movements of the hoof wall.

PMID: 7988538 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Acta Anat (Basel). 1993;146(2-3):109-13. Related Articles, Links

Comparison of the damping effect of different shoeing by the measurement of hoof acceleration.

Benoit P, Barrey E, Regnault JC, Brochet JL.

ENVA-Laboratoire de physiologie sportive, Maisons-Alfort, France.

The purpose of this study was to compare the damping effect of 16 types of shoeing by measuring hoof acceleration parameters on two trotting horses. At impact, maximal deceleration had extreme values such as 188 m/s2 (+/- 55) for the most damping combination (p < 0.01) and 746 m/s2 (+/- 14) for the steel shoe (mean = 551 m/s2 +/- 125). After the shock, the hoof was exposed to a mean vibrating acceleration at 418 Hz (+/- 84) which was progressively damped in 37.3 ms (+/- 10.5). According to these results, the damping ability of different farriery products significantly reduces (p < 0.05) shocks and vibrations at hoof impact in the athletic horse caused by runs on asphalt or similar surfaces. In practice, the use of the most efficient shoeing should help to reduce the incidence of the over-used joint diseases in the athletic horse caused by runs on hard surfaces.

PMID: 8470451 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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