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  • darrallclifford

The age-old question of what is meant by hoof balance.

As I have said before, to answer the age-old question of what hoof balance means, we must appreciate the complex interrelationship of hoof balance with the overall biomechanics of the whole equine, both in motion and at rest. This new consensus in the twenty-first century is now on the significance of the comprehension of orthopaedic balance and pathology of the equine foot, along with the neurological interrelationship with all the animal’s biological systems.

This unified approach has opened up new avenues of investigation into the relationship between the central nervous system's neuroglial connections, the muscular system's changes along with the myofascial matrices, and the pathology of the distal limb. Our basic comprehension of how the brain regulates the rest of the body through the nervous and myofascial systems underpins our ability to interpret and assess noticeable changes in the distal limb pathology and what constitutes a balanced foot. Our research has now shown that once you have achieved an adequate appreciation of the basic orthopaedic principles, you can start to consider the alterations of ligamentous and tendon tension and any persisting pain issues throughout the entire animal.

These loading patterns of the tendons and ligaments of the distal limb are a substantial guide with which to gauge the orthopaedic loading of the distal limb, the fatigue of the major muscles of the passive stay apparatus and, therefore, the adequate balance of the individual foot, thus answering our question as to what is a balanced foot.

The body’s reaction to the additional stress being placed on the structures of the foot, whether it is in balance or not, will be shown in the reaction mechanisms of the tendons and ligaments as they respond to the stress placed upon them. The variabilities in the tendon and ligaments of the animal's individual limb are really the neurological system's responsibility. This will correctly calibrate a systemic equilibrium that matches the actual structural status quo of the loading of the individual limb and the consequences leading to the reloading patterns of the entire horse.

All hoof balance alteration has to deal with the result of the forces of gravity working on the body. For the equine to cope, the muscle system must adapt to the different forces being experienced, along with the ability and flexibility of the joint to rotate or articulate accordingly. By recognizing that the distal joints of the limb have an extensive ligament and tendon structure that regulates the movement of the joints during the flight and stance stage of the limb, we can incorporate their structural integrity into the formulation of our trimming strategy.

We all need to understand the forces of gravity working on the body and how the muscular-skeletal system's ability to change the distal tendons and ligaments should influence our trimming process when the individual systems experience dysfunction, the imbalance in the distal joint of the foot is what changes the external shape of the hoof capsule that we are trying to trim into balance.

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