A suspensory shoe can be beneficial for performance horses that need toe flotation and heel penetration into the ground. But, what can you do to achieve these purposes if you don’t have the required metal in your truck?

Farriers Laura Gillespie of Athens, Ala., and Mike Hayward of Morgan Hill, Calif., suggest modifying a shoe with a pad of your choice.

In the above photo at left, the back half of a low-density pad was trimmed and applied to the toe. Impression material or a pour-in pad is packed underneath the pad to prevent sole pressure and bruising by keeping dirt and debris from getting between the pad and the sole. It should be noted that the heels in the left photo were not penciled as they should have been. Gillespie and Hayward strongly encourage penciling the heels to encourage them to sink.

The low-density pad is made from compressed foam. It is versatile and effective when reducing concussion is desired. The pad material is so effective that one of Gillespie’s client had a jumper in the pad when it was not known that the horse had a fractured coffin bone until the pad was removed and the horse presented lame. The horse was sound when the pad was reapplied to the injured foot.

The above photo at right was applied by International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member Bob Smith of Plymouth, Calif., to a lesson horse with a suspensory injury on the right front. The horse’s environment was a soft, sand arena. Periodically, the horse would experience swelling and lameness. The package was applied after Smith read veterinarian Jean-Marie Denoix’s paper on asymmetrical shoes for a variety of injuries and lamenesses. The horse’s work increased after his comfort level seemed to improve.

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