I am Derrick Cooke, a Certified Journeyman Farrier with the American Farrier's Association. I have been shoeing horses more than 28 years and had the pleasure to help many with lameness issues improve quality of life and, in many cases, return to work and win championships.

Many times, I hear people use the terms of the industry in context that are inconsistent with their needs. I am setting out to help clear up what we mean when we use the terms appropriately. The terms most confused are "Therapeutic Shoeing" and "Corrective Shoeing."

Let's start with "Therapeutic Shoeing." This would apply to shoeing horses with a treatment plan that applies more complicated shoes to treat and manage chronic lameness issues. Examples of this type of shoeing would involve horses with Navicular disease, Laminitis, Sidebone , Abscess, Canker, Corns, Pedal Osteitis, Quittor, Sole Bruises, Bowed Tendons, Curb, Ringbone, Spavin, Sprained Suspensory Ligaments, Stifle Lameness, Stringhal, and Thorough-Pin.

Most of these pathological problems require a veterinarian and farrier working closely to produce results that allow the animal a chance at recovery and maximize the animal's chance to return to its previous level of productivity while being able to move about comfortably as possible. Many of these problems require a highly skilled farrier that has acquired a very specialized set of skills and a complete knowledge of anatomy, pathology and biomechanics affecting the horse that finds itself suffering from one of these disorders.

The farrier will align the skeletal structure and make special shoes that will support the horse and lend to healing over the long haul. The vet will administer medication and make most diagnoses. It is imperative that all members of the team cooperate in order to gain results in these instances.

"Corrective Shoeing" is almost a misnomer, because all shoeing is corrective at its core. In this type of work, we generally try to compensate for conformational defects in order to maintain soundness and allow the horse to perform the work we ask them to do.

The basics of this take into account the conformation of the horse and the way the horse moves. We generally have to make judgment calls based on static balance (at rest) and dynamic balance (in motion). The job of the horse is an important consideration because the standards we have for these animals when we show them.

Each discipline has its own standards of how they judge the movement of the horses, so it would not be wise to shoe a horse in a manner that would make the horse move contradictory to the expectations of the judges' criteria. Showing horses is expensive, so the owners generally want the best chance at victory they can get. If a person is serious about showing, they should get the best farriers available. The old adage, "No foot, no horse" rings true. Find the best craftsman you can and you will gain a distinct advantage over the competitors.

If you have concerns or questions about issues related to lameness in horses or to make an appointment, please contact us at Heritage Lameness Center 817-771-8779.

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