Shoeing international sport horses often forces a farrier to use some creativity to solve problems.
If a horse you’re shoeing needs a little extra support, U.S. Olympic team farrier Steve Teichman suggested raiding your child’s toy box during his lecture on “The Mindset And Preparation Of Shoeing The Sport Horse In The International Arena” at the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit.
“You can get real creative with some of these sole support materials,” he says. “You can take little sausages of Play-Doh and build them up along the edges of the shoe. Shoot it with one of Vettec’s Equi-Thane products and over-fill that foot by 3/8 of an inch in the heels. Then peel the Play-Doh out and every time the horse hits the ground, it has 3/8 of an inch of cushion.”
The extra sole support can make a huge difference in limiting pain and heighten performance.
“Sometimes these horses are so traumatized that there’s a lot of inflammation in that hoof capsule,” Teichman says. “They need to be comfortable. So, every time the horse steps in conjunction with the shoe, you can get an awful lot of relief in those heels.”
There are two things farriers are never going to change about horses’ feet — gravity and millions of years of biomechanical and neurological evolution, says the Unionville, Pa., farrier.
“If we mismanage those two forces, you’re going to find yourself in a world of trouble,” he explains. “What I’m referring to with gravity is the size of these horses. If the horse is 900 pounds or 1,300 pounds, we’re not going to do anything with that, we’ve just got to manage it.”
In most cases, a heart bar shoe provides enough frog support without adding sole support materials. However, it won’t be enough if the foot is larger.
“Once I start getting up into these bigger feet,” he says, “I’m going to have to use a heart bar and some sole support material. Guys have called me and said, ‘I used a heart bar shoe, but it didn’t work.’ Come to find out, the hoof was a gigantic size 4. Sometimes you need an awful lot of support.”
Not to mention a little creativity.