How Horseshoe Modifications Change Pressure Distribution at the Hoof’s Weight-Bearing Surface

Research suggests compromises to counteract unintended side effects of therapeutic applications

Pictured Above: Mechanical stress causes bone remodeling of the distal phalanx (top photos left to right). Mechanical stress also causes sole bruises, bar cracks and white line separation (bottom left), hoof wall cracks (bottom center) and severe bone loss of the distal phalanx (bottom right) due to direct pressure affecting this bone in a case of untreated chronic laminitis.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Shoe modifications are often necessary to relieve diseased regions of the hoof to support healing. However, pressure distribution changes can cause unintended side effects with the hoof.
  • If heel wedges become necessary, the use of long, soft wedge pads combined with frog support minimizes the side effects and enables a better pressure distribution.
  • The use of pads and packing material can reduce some side effects of shoe modifications and avoid pressure peaks.

Today’s veterinarians and farriers are confronted with a huge variety of orthopedic horseshoes that either have been developed over long periods or are modernly fashioned. The application of orthopedic horseshoes traditionally has been a therapeutic option to treat certain hoof disorders and other causes of lameness, so that knowledge about their effects on the hoof remains important.

Half of the lamenesses originating from disorders of the equine distal limb are related to diseases or injuries affecting the hoof. To relieve diseased regions of the hoof, modifications of standard horseshoes become necessary to support healing (e.g. quarter cracks) or to enable comfortable walking even if progress of structural destructions has to be expected (e.g. podotrochlosis).

In addition, several…

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Jennifer hagen 5

Jenny Hagen

Jenny Hagen, DVM, PhD, CF, is a veterinarian, re­searcher and certified farrier. She is in private practice for equine ortho­pedics and chiropractic. She is a mem­ber of the faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Leipzig University in Ger­many.

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