Hoof Growth: To Shoe or Not to Shoe?
Author: Denise Agapoff & Stacie Bailey
Growth & Development Experiment 
SED 695B; Fall 2005

Research Question:
Do horse hooves grow faster with or without shoes?


Assistants: Chelsea and Charlie Brown

Standards addressed:
Investigation and Experimentation
Standard #9 a - g


Independent variable
Dependent variables
Hoof Growth
Shoeless horses
Hoof growth over time
  • 15 shod horses or ponies
  • 15 shoeless horses or ponies
  • metric ruler
  • log book
  • permanent marker

Obtain permission from horse owner to mark the two front hooves

Using a permanent marker, draw a line across the top of each front hoof as shown

Record horse's name and shoe situation

Remeasure the growth in millimeters every two weeks

Continue to record data for six months

Darken marks as they fade

Anatomy of the Hoof
  • Making a heavy mark at the base of the coronary band
  • The mark needed to be darkened several times
  • Measuring the growth in millimeters

Conclusion: This experiment showed that there was no difference in hoof growth between shod and shoeless horses.
However, the results were surprising in that the hoof growth seemed to be most dependent on the season.
That is, the warmer the season the more hoof growth.

Science Fair Web Site

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