There are many shoes used by farriers in therapeutic work and not all of them are specifically designed to treat an injury. Rather than simply reaching for a heart bar shoe for a laminitis case, or a straight bar shoe for palmar heel pain, it’s important to first think about what you want the shoe to do and why.
Jeff Ridley, of Leighton, Iowa, believes if there’s one area that trips up many farriers in therapeutic situations, it’s a failure to understand the cause and effects of using various shoe types.
“As an industry, we seem to struggle a little bit in understanding the mechanics involved in the appliances we use,” says Ridley, president of the American Association of Professional Farriers, who also holds the American Farrier’s Association’s therapeutic endorsement.
When using a bar shoe, for instance, he wants to think through what the desired effects of the shoe are for the particular case.
“It’s going to increase the ground surface and stabilize the hoof capsule,” he says. “But do I want it to shift the load? Maybe float an area? Will it put pressure somewhere else on the foot? I really have to think it through.”
John Muldoon, a farrier from Tuttle, Okla., agrees with Ridley about the importance of mechanics.
“The main difference between just being a farrier and being a good farrier is that good farriers know what to apply and how and when to apply it to keep a horse sound,” he says. “I use a…