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Am J Vet Res. 1996 Aug;57(8):1147-52.

Horseshoe characteristics as possible risk factors for fatal musculoskeletal injury of thoroughbred racehorses.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.



To evaluate selected shoe characteristics as risk factors for fatal musculoskeletal injury (FMI) and specifically for suspensory apparatus failure (SAF) and cannon bone condylar fracture (CDY) of Thoroughbred racehorses in California.


Case-control study.


Thoroughbred racehorses (n = 201) that died of were euthanatized at California racetracks between August 1992 and July 1994.


Shoe characteristics were compared between case horses affected by FMI (155), SAF (79), and CDY (41) and control horses that died for reasons unrelated to the appendicular musculoskeletal system (non-FMI; 46). Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios for FMI, SAF, and CDY.


Toe grabs were identified as possible risk factors for FMI, SAF, and CDY. The odds of FMI, SAF, and CDY were 1.8, 6.5, and 7.0, respectively, times greater for horses shod with low toe grabs than for horses shod without toe grabs on front shoes. Horses shod with regular toe grabs on front shoes had odds 3.5, 15.6, and 17.1 times greater (P < 0.05) for FMI, SAF, and CDY, respectively, compared with horses shod without toe grabs. The odds of horses shod with rim shoes were a third (P < 0.05) of those shod without rim shoes for either FMI or SAF. The apparent association between toe grab type and CDY may, in part, be attributable to concurrent SAF and CDY injuries in many horses.


Avoiding the use of toe grabs should decrease the incidence of FMI, especially SAF, in Thoroughbred racehorses. The use of rim shoes that are more consistent with natural hoof shape may decrease injury risk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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