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How to Float Heels and Heel Quarters

Farriers of all skill levels can achieve the benefits of the Z-bar horseshoe

Third in a Series

In this series, we will examine different shoeing applications and various alternatives for achieving the same desired outcome. In this installment, we explore the Z-bar shoe.

Farrier Takeaways

  • The Z-bar is beneficial when weight-bearing relief is necessary for the heel quarter or heel as a result of a hoof crack, sheared heel, avulsion, abscess, corn or fractured bar.
  • Although the shoe is versatile, there is a time and a place for it. Caution should be exercised in cases involving sheared heels.
  • The effects of the Z-bar can be achieved whether you are a beginner — by using pads or plates — or a seasoned farrier — by welding or handmaking the application.

The Z-bar is a versatile shoe that can be used when it’s necessary to relieve weight-bearing in the heel quarter or the heel as a result of an injury or insult. It can be used to float sore, sheared and lacerated heels. It can aid the healing of quarter cracks by allowing the hairline to drop. It’s also beneficial for shoeing hoof avulsions; abscesses; corns and infected or fractured bars.

It’s important to exercise caution, though. The Z-bar isn’t ideal for all situations in which a heel needs flotation.

Laura was called in to work on a horse that presented with slight navicular changes and a prolific heel shear. After consulting radiographs, the veterinarian advised us to unload the affected side. Laura applied a Z-bar and inset Vettec Equi-Pak with passive pressure to the…

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Laura gillespie2

Laura Gillespie

Laura Gillespie is an Athens, Ala., farrier who specializes in therapeutic hoof care and shoes English sport horses, as well as reiners and fox hunters.

Mike hayward

Mike Hayward

Mike Hayward, APD-I, owns a multi-farrier business in Morgan Hill, Calif. He specializes in therapeutic hoof care and shoes English sport horses, eventers, reiners and endurance horses.

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