Supporting a Foundered Foot with a W-Shoe

This hand-forged shoe offers an option for supporting horses suffering laminitis.
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Foundered hooves often require extra support to help them heal and grow while also offering the horse pain relief. But, rarely is the hoof undamaged and easy to shoe after a laminitic episode, said Chris Gregory, MS, CJF, FWCF, of Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo. For these cases Gregory employs a W-shoe custom made for the individual horse and hoof.

Gregory, who authored "Gregory’s Textbook of Farriery," discussed the design and implementation of the W-shoe in his lecture "Introduction to the Principles of Using a W-Shoe on Foundered Feet" at the 2012 International Equine Conference of Laminitis and Diseases of the Hoof.

A W-shoe is a hand-forged therapeutic bar horseshoe named for its appearance, which takes on the form of an abstract "w." Opposed to a traditional bar shoe, the W-shoe has an open toe (imagine a standard horseshoe place backward on the hoof) and a v-shaped frog support, which is attached to the bar and creates the "w" shape.

The W-shoe is related to a heart-bar shoe, which is a continuous bar shoe with the same v-shaped frog support. The two are so similar looking that some people refer to the W-shoe as an "open-toed heart bar

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Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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