John Runciman PhD PEng



Investigators: RJ Runciman and J Thomason

Grad Student:  Z Salo


The multibillion dollar horse industry is literally built on horse hooves.  In competition, these same hooves are shod using an approach that hasn’t changed significantly in a milenia- metal shoes held in place with crimped off square nails. Recognizing the incongruity of this situation it isn’t then difficult to believe that we actually know very little about the function of the equine hoof.


Our recent  “hoof” project is the latest in a series of projects focused on broadening our understanding of hoof function with the aim of improving equine health and athletic performance.  This research program has been conducted in conjunction with Dr Jeff Thomason of the U of G Biomedical Science Department.  Previous hoof projects have included measuring the viscoelastic material properties of hoof materials, natural resonance of whole hooves, horseshoe nail fixation and hoof to ground friction. See my publications for details on these projects. The most recent project built on these previous studies and modeled both hoof mechanical loading and dynamic function.


This study utilized the U of G MRI facilities to capture hoof structures of 15 animals.  Resulting MRI slices were then used to define 2-d geometry of the hoof structures of interest, Figure 1.  This slice information was then digitized and combined to give digitized 3-d hoof structures for each animal, known as solid models, suitable for mechanical modeling and analysis purposes, Figure 2. Using known loading conditions and material properties, mechanical analyses was performed on the hooves.


Equine Hoof Research

Figure 1: One MRI section showing digitized points outlining the coffin bone.

Figure 2: 3-D models of hoof wall and coffin bone combined.

Figure 3: Mechanical stresses calculated to act in the coffin bone under normal loading.