No Hoof No Horse.
Competition with unshod horses is an important and hot topic in harness racing in Sweden. The performance, when racing unshod, improve markedly compared to the shod condition but trainers and owners are also aware of that it does not always work out well. There might be several reasons for failure, one being that the ”balance” (locomotion symmetry in high speed) of the horse is negatively affected, another that there is pain from the hooves or the distal phalanges. The latter is of course not acceptable. However, the apparent simple solution just to ban unshod racing can be a mistake from a long term health perspective since many horses actually have hooves that are robust enough to withstand high speed exercise without shoes. These hooves have qualities that should be sought for and these individuals should be used in breeding. For centuries, the use of shoes have probably impaired the quality of hooves in the domesticated horse and there is time to do something about it. This project aims for investigating potential morphological differences between horse that are able to compete unshod and horses that need to have shoes during races. The hoofs for this study are from horses that either have competed frequently unshod or have competed with shoes due to hoof related problems. We will use images from stereomicroscopy and light microscopy of the horn, lamells and coronary band to investigate the potential morphological difference between the two group of horses.