Horse Conformation Determines Best Trimming and Shoeing Approaches

Farriers should abandon one-size fits all solutions to navicular

During my shoeing career I have recognized that the common and consistent shoeing prescription of egg-bar shoes and wedge pads is not beneficial for all horses diagnosed with navicular. In some horses this protocol provides temporary relief, after which the condition can worsen. In other horses, there is no improvement.

My alternative to this “one-size-fits all” approach is a proactive trimming and shoeing protocol that appears to rectify many issues in horses diagnosed with navicular. Simple conformational observations are an invaluable guide to the possible causes of heel pain in these horses. I have differentiated navicular horses into two conformational pathologies — long and low, and upright — and I trim and shoe accordingly.

History and conformation represent effective tools that can guide a farrier’s treatment of navicular horses. Classifying a horse as long and low or upright provides farriers with a set of trimming and shoeing options specific to a conformational pathology. For both long and low, and upright hooves, the trimming and shoeing protocol should be flexible and progressive, with the farrier reassessing the horse at each visit and adjusting the protocol accordingly. This will allow the farrier to reduce or eliminate the potential cause of heel pain and to take a preventative approach to hoof care at an early stage in the horse’s development and career.

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I began my shoeing career in 1986 and over the years have worked on horses diagnosed with “navicular.” In the 1990s, a common and consistent shoeing prescription was to apply an…

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Steve mcconnell

Steve McConnell

Steve McConnell, CF, is an AFA, OFA, FITS certified farrier from Waterford, Ontario, who has been shoeing since 1986.

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