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The effect of flat horseshoes, raised heels and lowered heels on the biomechanics of the equine hoof assessed by finite element analysis (FEA).

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  • 1Clinic of Orthopaedics in Ungulates, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria.


The biomechanical effects of lowering and raising the heels were studied using a finite element (FE) computer model of the equine hoof capsule consisting of 18,635 finite elements. A static load of 3000 N was distributed to nodes of the inner hoof wall (80%) according to the suspension of the coffin bone, 20% loaded sole and frog. When loaded the FE hoof capsules showed the following deformations: the proximal dorsal wall moves back, the quarters flare to the side and sole and frog perform a downward movement. Stresses are high in the material surrounding the quarter nails, in the heels and in the proximal dorsal wall. Three types of horseshoes were simulated, a regular shoe with flat branches, a shoe with 5 degrees raised heels and a shoe with 5 degrees lowered heels. Raising the heels resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) low stress and displacement values. The lowered heels model calculated highest stress and displacement values and the results of the FE model with the regular horseshoe were found in between.

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