How to Achieve Benefits of the Onion Horseshoe

Farriers will need time, education and money when making and applying this device

Seventh 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 onion-heel shoe.

Developed in France during the 17th century, the shoe was forged to protect the heel from corns or bruising. However, the French didn’t call them corns. Rather, they were called onions — hence the name of the shoe.

If protection of the seat of corn didn’t reveal the mechanical nature of the shoe, its broad heels and thin toe certainly do. The onion-heel shoe allows the horse’s heels to float on the footing while encouraging the toe to penetrate. While the original intent of the shoe was to protect the seat of corn, its design benefits the foot and distal limb in other ways.

  • Treatment of sensitive heels and some navicular stress and caudal pathologies.
  • Protection of the heels and bars, as well recruiting the bars for weight-bearing.
  • Reduction of pressure on the deep digital flexor tendon, which can be enhanced by thinning the toe or reducing the web width.
  • Provide support for disorders exhibiting a lesion on the sesamoid bone or sesamoid ligament desmopathy.
  • Beneficial for horses that are not suited for egg-bar shoes such as 3-day eventers or fox hunters.

Farrier Takeaways

  • An onion-heel horseshoe is not an apprentice-friendly appliance. Considerable practice and education should be invested before forging and applying this device.
  • Manufactured onion shoes are expensive and experience in forging aluminum is a must to avoid…
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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, APF-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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