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Manage Leverage to Treat Lameness

Colorado farrier continues his research and development of unconventional therapeutic shoes


Pictured Above: Conventional foot mapping (represented by the blue lines) shows that much more of the foot on a lame horse (left) will stretch beyond the front line than on the healthy foot (right), which features the reduced surface area advocated by Gene Ovnicek.

Drawing on 60 years of experience, master farrier Gene Ovnicek says he and other horseshoers are finally reaching a point where they can help prevent lameness with advanced hoof mapping, reduced ground surface and his newest development, the Freedom Shoe.

Ovnicek has been studying shoeing techniques for decades, which led him to establish Equine Digit Support System (EDSS), a manufacturer of hoof-care products in Penrose, Colo.

The Freedom Shoe uses a solid piece to cover the entire sole and provides leverage appropriate for supporting the internal structures of the foot, Ovnicek says.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Conventional foot preparation can misrepresent the optimal placement of the P3 relative to the hoof wall.
  • Forget “the bigger the foot, the better.” Reduced ground surface area can benefit many lameness cases.
  • Many lame horses can return to performing at a high level.

“But the most important thing is hoof preparation,” he stresses, “because it is the key to preventing lameness and resolving some of the issues we’re confronted with.”

He recalls that foot mapping started simply with other farrier researchers. Early mapping called for drawing a line across the sole at an approximation of the location of the foot’s internal structures.

“The idea was to divide the foot equally from front…

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Ron_perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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