Health Up­date

Practical Horseman - - Contents -

Cop­per may help hoof health; in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of ice boots

For thou­sands of years, hu­mans have be­lieved in the ben­e­fits of cop­per. The ad­van­tages aren’t just an­cient leg­end: Science has proven that cop­per can kill bac­te­ria and other harm­ful mi­crobes by con­tact. Pair this thought with the fact that the use of nails in horse­shoe­ing can lead to mi­cro­bial in­va­sion that causes dam­age to the hoof wall—and sud­denly peo­ple are in­ter­ested in (and some far­ri­ers are us­ing) cop­per-coated horse­shoe nails.

Since there is lit­tle proof that these nails help pre­vent bac­te­rial in­fec­tion, two far­ri­ers in Queens­land, Aus­tralia, set out to test the the­ory. Specif­i­cally, Brian Hamp­son, PhD, of Sun­shine Coast Po­di­a­try Ser­vices, and John Wil­son wanted to see if us­ing cop­per-coated nails would ben­e­fit nail-hole health com­pared to tra­di­tional steel nails. The far­ri­ers se­lected 11 ac­tive sporthorses for their study. Dur­ing the trial’s first phase, each horse was trimmed and shod twice, six weeks apart, with cop­per-coated steel nails in the left front and stan­dard steel nails in the right front. Six of the horses were given a 12-week lay­off be­fore en­ter­ing stage two, where the test and con­trol were swapped: Cop­per-coated nails were used in the right front, with plain steel used in the left front. This elim­i­nated any bias that could have been caused by al­ways us­ing the same hooves for test­ing and con­trol.

Be­fore re-shoe­ing, the sole of each front foot was pho­tographed. The far­ri­ers used an ex­ist­ing 10-point pathol­ogy scale to eval­u­ate dis­col­oration and de­cay—in­di­ca­tors of poor nail-hole health. For both phases of the study, the con­trol holes—where steel nails were used—had higher pathol­ogy scores, in­di­cat­ing poorer hoof health, than the test holes. In other words, the tis­sue near where the cop­per-coated nails had been in­serted was notably health­ier than where steel nails were used.

Dr. Hamp­son and Wil­son con­cluded that the cop­per coat­ing con­trib­uted to an an­tibac­te­rial ef­fect, help­ing the hoof wall to re­main healthy. But they cau­tioned that the study specif­i­cally used steel shoes and that us­ing cop­per-coated nails with alu­minum shoes may ac­tu­ally lead to hoof dam­age. The far­ri­ers noted that hoof-wall health de­pends on other fac­tors be­yond the type of nails used.

Prov­ing the Ef­fec­tive­ness of Ice Boots

It’s no se­cret that we put se­ri­ous stress on our per­for­mance horses, par­tic­u­larly the soft tis­sues in their lower legs. Many own­ers choose to ice the limbs af­ter a stren­u­ous work­out to pre­vent or re­duce heat and swelling. Var­i­ous forms of ice boots are on the mar­ket to make the task eas­ier. But there’s been limited re­search on how ef­fec­tively these prod­ucts cool horse legs. Re­searchers from Cal­i­for­nia Polytech­nic State Univer­sity set out to find an­swers. The team was led by Matthew A. Burd, DVM, MS, head of the school’s equine re­pro­duc­tive phys­i­ol­ogy unit.

The team put to­gether a group of six healthy sporthorses, aged 4 to 19 years, for the study. Ini­tially, record­ings were taken of each front can­non bone us­ing a ther­mal imag­ing cam­era that in­cor­po­rated tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ment. The horses were then longed at the walk, trot and can­ter. Ad­di­tional ther­mal images were taken be­fore an ice boot was ap­plied to one fore­leg of each horse. The other fore­leg was left bare, al­low­ing each horse to act as both a test and con­trol. All horses wore the same type of ice boot, which con­sisted of a neo­prene ex­te­rior that in­su­lated frozen gel pock­ets.

The boots were left in place for 20 min­utes while the horses stood cross-tied on rub­ber mats. Once the boots were re­moved, a third set of ther­mal images were taken, with images recorded every two min­utes un­til the tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ence be­tween the test and con­trol legs was zero.

The re­searchers used anal­y­sis soft­ware to eval­u­ate the ther­mal images in or­der to gauge av­er­age sur­face tem­per­a­ture of the can­non bone at each mea­sure­ment time for the test and con­trol limbs. On av­er­age, the legs wear­ing ice boots were more than 43 de­grees cooler than the non-iced legs im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the 20-minute treat­ment pe­riod. The ef­fect lasted for a short time af­ter re­moval of the boot, with the test leg tak­ing an av­er­age of roughly 14 min­utes to re­turn to the tem­per­a­ture of the con­trol leg.

The re­searchers con­cluded that this style of ice boot is ef­fec­tive in cool­ing the sur­face tem­per­a­ture of a horse’s leg and, by ex­ten­sion, the tem­per­a­ture of the un­der­ly­ing soft tis­sues. Thus, ice boots can be viewed as a use­ful method for con­trol­ling heat and in­flam­ma­tion. The re­searchers added that ad­di­tional stud­ies would be use­ful to com­pare this style of ice boot to other forms of cold ther­apy.— Sushil Du­lai Wen­holz

Cop­per-coated nails could have an an­tibac­te­rial ef­fect on a horse’s hoof wall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.