We find it hard to comprehend the logic behind raising an already weakened hoof capsule further off the ground to improve performance. This thinking masks obvious early warning signs of troubles until they go too far.
If the horse continues to be fed large amounts of hard feed the sheer forces on his hooves will cause further tearing of the lamina. When a horse is at full gallop it has been estimated that forces equivalent to 5000 kg per limb are loaded onto the weight-bearing hoof. The laminae bear this increased loading and tearing forces imposed by concussion, weight of momentum, turning and acceleration as the horse's hooves make contact with the ground. What all horse professionals and owners need to consider is how a half inch of steel, splinting the hoof and lifting it off the ground makes the hoof normal and healthy. It does however allow us to believe all is well! A study has found that 46% of racehorses on hard feed diets showed mild low-grade laminitis when x-rayed. These horses did not appear to be lame in metal shoes, however over a 6 month period the effected horses earned on average 66% less prize money. Low-grade laminitis was affecting these horses. The discomfort they were experiencing during full exercise caused a reduction in speed and performance without obvious symptoms of lameness.
It is vitally important that this horse is given every advantage to increase his chance of outstanding performance. Laminitis, a long toe length, medial/lateral imbalance (which was already present in the left front when we inspected his shod feet on our last visit) and reduced flexion in the hoof from a metal shoe will, in our opinion, ultimately cause a recurrence of the break down in the mechanical function of the hoof and leg. With a little time and a change in diet the horse could have been be back to barefoot soundness and probably have no recurrence of the tendon and ligament problems which had caused so many problems for him over the years. It seemed such a shame to give up when his tendons are fixed and we were so close but it taught us an awful lot about diet and performance.