Road nail study paves the way for future farriery research *H&H Plus*

  • It’s believed the research into farriery effects opens the door for others to measure how remedial shoeing is affecting horses, over the long-term as well as immediately. H&H finds out more...

    Research on the effects of road nails on equine symmetry is particularly noteworthy for its implications for future study, one of the professionals involved believes.

    The peer-reviewed study, undertaken as part of the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) graduate diploma in equine locomotor research, indicates that it is important to look at the effects of shoeing changes on symmetry of movement, rather than the other way round.

    The researchers used gait analysis to show that using a road nail in the lateral heel of a hind shoe created asymmetry in pelvic movement.

    Peter Day, who has worked at the RVC as a farrier for over 20 years and carried out the study with Lee Collins, told H&H while the results were interesting, they were almost a “red herring”.

    “If I’m putting road nails in, I’ll put two in each foot, as far back as possible,” he said. “Sometimes people only have one in each foot but if someone could only afford four, I’d put two in each hind foot. The horse’s movement comes from the back end, and if you can stop that slipping, you’ll stop the front end slipping.

    “I’ve proved that anecdotally, through observation, as that’s what farriers do. We might change a shoeing protocol, and the vet will say, ‘That’s made a difference,’ but you think, ‘How do you know?’

    “But there are ways of measuring, and this has proved we can measure what we do.”

    Mr Day says his research into farriery effects opens the door for others to measure how remedial shoeing is affecting horses, long-term as well as immediately.

    “Maybe we can start nailing down a protocol that could give horses an edge,” he said.

    “Whether it’s for lameness or improving performance, this is where we can really get one over, by measuring improvement. I hope we’ve unlocked the door for people with ideas to come forward.”

    Course director Thilo Pfau said it was “very exciting” to see the first peer-reviewed published research from the diploma.

    “We always encourage our students to create research of publishable quality and to contribute to the much-needed evidence base surrounding trimming, shoeing and farriery,” he said. “Peter and Lee have done exactly this, and we congratulate them for this achievement and are looking forward to others following in their footsteps.”

    British Equine Veterinary Association chief executive David Mountford told H&H: “It is great to see farriery research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Intuitively we all recognise the importance and impact that farriery interventions have, but it is through published research that we can understand and enhance our use of those interventions and expand the key relationship between farriers and vets.”

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