Full pads with silicone packing material are the most common in Travis Burns’ practice. They are used to protect hooves with insufficient sole depth or hazardous terrain. Images: Travis Burns

The Pros and Cons of Hoof Pads

Farriers must consider the advantages and disadvantages before application

The use of pads in various shoeing applications can quickly become a controversial topic. While many people recognize the potential benefits of using pads, others have had off-putting experiences that left them opposed to their use

While there are pros and cons to applying pads, there are certain instances in which the use of pads offers clear benefits, Travis Burns tells attendees of the Castle Plastics How-To Hoof-Care Product Knowledge Clinic at the 20th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“In our line of work, we are constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul,” says the associate professor of practice at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va. “I try to think about everything I am going to put on the bottom of the foot in terms of the possible benefits and weigh that against the negative consequences that may be associated with it. Pads can be controversial for some people — they don’t like them, or they’ve had bad experiences with them. Whatever a person’s experiences are, there are certainly scenarios in which pads offer potential benefits.”

Positive Functions Pads

The proper application of pads benefits horses in a variety of scenarios.

“First and foremost, when we apply pads, we are trying to protect or support the bottom of the foot,” Burns says. “In reality, we are recruiting the frog and sole into load bearing, at least to a certain extent. We’re also putting a mechanical barrier on the foot to protect it from the outside environment…

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Jessica Lash

Jessica Lash is an Indiana-based freelance writer, dedicated barrel racer, and lifelong horse enthusiast

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