Before he makes a decision about using hoof packing,Travis Burns, farrier for the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, will ask himself, “Why is the horse sore?” He frequently finds the answer is overwork, particularly on bad footing. This provides the farrier with an opportunity to educate the client.

“I find talking to the owner, trainer or rider about why the horse is sore often leads them to understand that the way the horse is being used might be a cause or at least a contributor to the soreness,” he says.

“When the horse is sore, I try to only use hoof packing that is as soft or less dense as possible,” he says. “Again, I think it’s important to only load healthy areas of the hoof even though that sounds too simple. 

“I prefer bandaging feet and allowing the soreness or trauma to be resolved before applying a shoe with hoof packing. When pressured to apply a shoe and pad to keep competing or training, I often place foam soaked in iodine under a metal pad attached to the foot side of the shoe.”

He used the foam as a space filler under the pad if the horse is too sore for fiber- or synthetic-based packing. 

“When attaching the metal pad, I simply treat it like any pad,” he says. I trace the shoe, cut it out, rivet it to the shoe, then drill the nail holes out and nail it on. The difference is that it is between the hoof and the shoe where a hospital plate would be on the outside of the shoe.”

>>Return to the Farrier Tips archive