Therapeutic Shoeing Part 2: Hardware and Healing

Learn about common foot pathologies and corrective-shoeing options, from bar shoes to wooden clogs.
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Therapeutic Shoeing, Part 2: Hardware and Healing
The method used to shoe a horse is less important than developing a set of goals based on sound biomechanical principles, one veterinarian says. | Photo: The Horse Staff

We examine some common foot pathologies and therapy options

Egg bars, heart bars, wedges, pads, trailers, caulks, wooden shoes, rocker shoes, natural balance shoes–the list of contraptions that can be applied to or removed from the bottom of a horse’s foot is extensive. How can an owner hope to wade through the myriad shoeing options when even veterinarians and farriers can’t seem to reach consensus? According to Andrew Parks, MA, Vet MB, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, the Olive K. Britt & Paul E. Hoffman professor of Large Animal Medicine at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the method used to shoe a horse is less important than developing a set of goals based on sound biomechanical principles.

As discussed in Part 1, all farriery alters the forces upon the foot and must be viewed in light of those forces. The three main forces are:

  1. Ground reaction force (GRF)—the upward force of the ground on the hoof;
  2. The force of the horse’s weight transmitted downward through the limb; and
  3. The upward pull of the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT).

Changes in length, angle, or weight-bearing of any foot structure alters these forces. Considering these basics, we can examine some common foot pathologies and therapy options

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Written by:

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM, practices large animal medicine in Northern California, with particular interests in equine wound management and geriatric equine care. She and her husband have three children, and she writes fiction and creative nonfiction in her spare time.

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