2020 Volume 31 Issue 2 Pages 17-22
Working equids rely on sound, balanced hooves, but data describing the typical morphology of the legs and feet of working donkeys are currently lacking. To address this gap in knowledge, the front and hind feet of twenty healthy working donkeys were measured and compared. Hoof width, weight-bearing lengths, heel width, dorsal hoof wall length and lateral and medial heel length of the hoof wall were determined, as well as toe angle, heel angle, hoof pastern axis, coronary band angle and a measure of ‘ground surface size’. Viewed from the ground surface of the foot, front feet were more rounded and significantly larger than hind feet. Measures of medial-lateral balance and toe-heel angle ratio were within the recommended healthy guidelines for horses. Hoof pastern axis was broken forward for the studied animals, which supports previous research suggesting that a broken forward hoof pastern axis is normal for donkeys, although further study would be required to confirm whether this conformation is natural. Significant correlations were found between estimated body mass and hoof width in both the front and hind feet. These measurements provide valuable insight into the relationship between hoof and body characteristics, which may aid the development of guidelines for the trimming and management of working donkey hooves. Further study is, however, advised to confirm natural hoof conformation.