This article addresses how long toes in the hind feet have a strong correlation to hind end pain. The aim of the study is to “document relationship between long toes and gluteal pain to show value of shortening the toes”. Like the article by Duberstein et al (2013), this article found that there was a strong correlation between shorting the break over point and reduced pain in a specific region of the horse’s body. However, unlike the Duberstein et al study, rather than creating over exaggerated short break over with specialty shoes, this study simply brought long toes back shortening the break over with trimming techniques.
Though I do have an initial problem with this study that they added wedge heel shoes to horses with hoof ailments described as caused by low heels; ailments such as crushed heels, underslung heels and collapsed heels. This is problematic because these ailments are often caused by heels that have been left too long at the point of the buttress. The point of the buttress is too long, and gives an optical illusion that the heel is too low, but truly the opposite is the problem. From personal experience, I have found that bringing the heel buttress back (essentially further lowering the heel, but changing the point of contact) heel problems as described can be fixed. Although I wish that extreme shoeing methods (wedge heel shoes) were not used on the horse, I think that this study was right in changing the break over point through trimming rather than aluminum plates.
The study used two groups of horses, the first was 67 client owned horses of various breeds, ages and disciplines with and without gluteal pain at the start of the study. The second group of horses were 10 broodmares chosen specifically because they experienced gluteal pain. In study group 1, 75% were positive for pain going into the study and only 17% experienced mild pain after treatment. In study group 2, 100% were positive for pain going into the study and all had decreased pain after the treatment.
This study is in agreeance with what I have learned outside of academic study and is in agreeance with the Duberstein article, shortening the break over point can aid is pain reduction for the horse. Although this study did find that there was a statistically significant relationship between long toes and pain in the hind end, I am curious to know more about why this correlation exists. The study suggests that it might be due to a shift in how the hip flexor is worked. Horses with long toes, tend to stand sickle hocked, but after the treatment the trend was that the horses were less sickle hocked.
Mansmann, R., James, S., Blikslager, A. (2010). “Long toes in the hind feet and pain in the gluteal region: observational study of 77 horses” Journal of equine veterinary science, Vol. 30, No. 12.