A recent study looked at the effects of foot trimming on a horse’s behavior. A study discussed in The Horse publication says that in the week following foot trimming and reshoeing, horses in the study took more steps than before the trim and seemed to spend more time in a relaxed position. Dr. Jay Daniel is a professor at Berry College in Georgia, and in his study the scientists fitted seven riding horses with accelerometers on one hind limb and the horses wore the device for 23 hours a day over a 2-week period. When half-way through the study period, three of the horses underwent trimming and reshoeing. The other four, the non-treated control group, underwent the handling associated with trimming and shoeing but the procedure was not performed.
The horses with fresh trims and shoes spent more time lying down after the trim than before the trim, and this makes it seem that horses were lying down more, indicating their feet were painful. However, Dr. Daniel believes this means the horses were more relaxed and were lying down for that reason, not for pain. There was no evidence of pain, tenderness or heat in the feet, so no foot soreness was noted. Also, the lying down period was not exceptionally long but was significantly longer that before the trim. Dr. Daniel says the study shows that most horses are actually more comfortable after trimming and shoeing than before, and that trimming and shoeing by a qualified farrier should not make their horses uncomfortable.
My concern with this study is the small number of horses involved and that the assertion that the horses were lying down more because they were relaxed is an assumption by the author.