Postmortem evaluation of homotypic variation in shoe characteristics of 201 Thoroughbred racehorses

Albert J. Kane, Susan M. Stover, Ian A. Gardner, James T. Case, Bill J. Johnson, Michael J. O'Brien, Deryck H. Read, Alex A. Ardans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives - To develop a standard technique for evaluation of racehorse shoes, to assess homotypic variation (interlimb variation) in shoe characteristics, and to determine whether shoe characteristics varied with age and sex. Design - Cross-sectional study. Animals - Thoroughbred racehorses (n = 201) that died or were euthanatized at California racetracks between August 1992 and July 1994. Procedure - Shoe characteristics were measured on horses examined after death. Percentage of agreement was used to compare shoe characteristics between limbs (homotypic variation). Using χ2 analysis, shoe characteristics were compared between horses grouped by age and sex. Results - Toe grabs were present on 90.5% of horses, and rim shoes were present on 15.9% of horses. Heel traction devices were less frequent on front (2.5%) than rear (6%) hooves. Pads were present on 24.9% of horses, with bonded rim pads most common. Special types of shoes were present on 5% of horses. Percentage of agreement between left and right front hooves and between left and right rear hooves was high (20/25 variables; % agreement ≥ 99). In contrast, percentage of agreement between left front and left rear hooves and between right front and right rear hooves was low (2/25 variables; % agreement ≥ 99). Presence of a pad was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with age, and several shoe variables (size, presence of a special shoe, overall wear matched) were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with sex. Clinical Relevance - Except for variables related to special shoes, wear, and weight, 1 shoe for the respective fore- or hind limbs could be used as an indicator for the contralateral shoe worn by Thoroughbred racehorses without substantial loss of information. However, 1 shoe could not be used as an indicator for shoe characteristics of all 4 limbs. Some shoe characteristics are associated with age and sex, and these variables should be considered possible confounders in studies of shoe characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1141-1146
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Veterinary Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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