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Helping Sport Horses Compete Through Suspensory Injuries

Knowing how to do these modifications has become more necessary as suspensory issues have become more prevalent with sport horses


Pictured Above: Dave Farley shod this horse with suspensory shoes on both hinds. It won on a synthetic surface that was very sticky despite the rain.

In the sport horse world, certainly at higher levels, problems with the suspensory apparatus have grown. Through his conversations with equine veterinarians, farrier Dave Farley says that they estimate about 80% of the sport horse lameness issues they encounter are somehow related to the suspensory.

“Everyone wants one shoe to help or fix horses with a suspensory problem to get it through to the next week and beyond,” he says. “The problem is that there is no education or real baseline on this shoe.”

Farley says that lack of understanding forces the farrier to go by the veterinary diagnosis and prescription, which may be determined from a limited knowledge of what’s available based on an anecdotal experience. This may result in a farrier forging a suspensory shoe that is inappropriate for the horse. For example, horses that have a longer hoof pastern axis can have difficulty with a suspensory shoe that is heavier in the toe.

Farrier Takeaways

  • If a mild suspensory strain is diagnosed, start with a slight modification of the toe to avoid other problems.
  • Don’t ignore the inside of the shoe when removing material for a suspensory shoe so that the heels can sink.
  • Work with the veterinarian on the team so your shoe selection matches the goal for the horse.

“Bottom line: be careful in making these shoes too heavy,”…

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Jeremy_mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern has been a journalist for nearly 20 years. He has been a member of the American Farriers Journal staff for 7 years and serves as the Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is a member of the board of directors for the American Horse Publications organization of equine media.

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