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Hospital plates long have been an option for farriers to address issues including puncture wounds, abscesses and keratoma removals, among others. The concept of protection is straightforward, but design and application are only limited by a farrier’s creativity. They can be made using various materials to attach to numerous shoe types.
As chief of farrier services at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Travis Burns uses hospital plates more often than most farriers. Relative to the issue he’s addressing, he finds each differing hospital plate solution has pros and cons. These are important considerations that will help determine which solution is best in a specific case.
Among the variety of solutions, more commonly used methods of hospital plates include the four-bolt method and Farley plate. Burns also finds some commercial solutions useful, depending on the case.
Four-bolt aluminum plate. This remains a popular choice among farriers because of the affordability and accessibility of materials (Figure 1). The design allows for access to the entire solar surface of the foot. The seemingly simple approach still requires fabrication skills and tools for making a plate adherable to the device.
Consider the surfaces the horse walks on with this option. While bolt heads may…