Equine Podiatry: Underrun Heels and Egg Bar Shoes

One veterinarian describes the causes of and a traditional treatment method for underrun heels.
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It will be easier to understand and comprehend the traditional treatment of underrun heels using egg bar shoes (with or without wedges) if we again first review the causes and pathogenesis of compromised heels. The causes of underrun heels are a genetically weak foot, individual hoof/limb conformation, breed, type of terrain on which horse is ridden, amount of daily work, amount of turnout, moisture content of feet, diseases of the feet, and, finally (and very important), the farrier practices applied to the horse along with the intervals between hoof care.

It is generally a combination of the above causes that contributes to underrun heels. For example, a horse with a genetically weak foot that is not ridden, lives in a dry terrain, and is given unlimited access to pasture will maintain a healthy heel, whereas if the same horse is exercised hard with a rider, has a high moisture content in its feet, along with limited turnout, it will ultimately develop compromised heels.

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Stephen E. O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, was a professional farrier for 10 years prior to obtaining his degree in veterinary medicine. He learned farriery through a formal apprenticeship under Hall of Fame farrier Joseph M. Pierce of West Chester, Penn. After graduating from veterinary school, O’Grady did an internship in Capetown, South Africa. Then he joined Dan Flynn, VMD, at Georgetown Equine Hospital in Charlottesville, Va., as an associate for five years. Since that time, he has operated a private practice in Virginia and South Africa, with a large portion of the practice devoted to equine podiatry. He has published numerous articles and lectured extensively on equine foot problems. His web site is www.equipodiatry.com.””tephen E. O’Grady

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