The Veterinary Journal October 2011 190 1 71-76
The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between fore- and hind-hoof contact area and limb loading. Data from a previous study on forelimb loading and symmetry were compared with data on hindlimb kinetics, and the fore- and hind-hoof contact area at the walk and trot was evaluated. Five sound ponies, selected for symmetrical feet, were walked and trotted over a pressure plate embedded in a custom-made runway. The hindlimb peak vertical force (PVF) and vertical impulse (VI) were found to be significantly lower than in the forelimb, whereas their high symmetry ratios (>95%) did not show a significant difference from forelimb data. Hindlimb PVF in ponies was found to be slightly higher when compared to data reported for horses even though the ponies moved at a similar or lower relative velocity. The contact area had low intra-individual variability and was significantly smaller in the hind- than in the fore-hooves. A larger contact area was significantly associated with lower peak vertical pressure (PVP) but higher PVF and VI. No significant differences between left and right sides were found for contact area or loading variables.
Pressure plate measurements demonstrated a significant association between hoof contact area and limb loading, in addition to intrinsic differences between fore and hindlimb locomotor function. The pressure plate provides the clinician with a tool to quantify simultaneously contralateral differences in hoof contact area and limb loading.