Every farrier has his or her own way of shoeing a horse.
The path one chooses depends on several variables — knowledge and comfort level to name just two. Of course, paths are also dependent upon the pathologies of the hoof itself.
“It’s a matter of taking that knowledge base, taking that understanding and applying it any way that you can,” Haydn Price told attendees at the 2013 International Hoof-Care Summit. “It’s about journey and destination.”
Fourteen years ago, Price was confronted with a hoof that had a negative palmar aspect of P3. While examining the hoof, he found that there was flaring and separation (Figures 1 and 2). But there was more.
“If we actually go one stage further, what are we really dealing with inside?” the Welsh farrier asks. “We’re dealing with a prolapsed digital cushion and caudal compression (Figure 3).”
He finds there is a common mistake that farriers make when shoeing a horse with a negative palmar aspect of P3.
“They will jack it up statically,” says the 2014 inductee of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame. “Sometimes they’ll even take an X-ray and convince themselves that they’re doing the right thing.”
The result makes a bad situation worse.
“When that horse puts one foot in front of the other, the problem has been made 10 times worse,” he explains. “As the fetlock drops, or hyperextends, the pressure in the heel is increased during the weight-bearing phase of the stride.
“We all know, because we’ve done it,” Price continues. “We’ve jacked horses up and we have driven what’s remaining of the heel right up inside the digital cushion.”
A decade and a half later, increased knowledge charts a different course for the lead farrier of Great Britain’s World Class & Performance Dressage and Showjumping Team.
“We need to remove the source and treat the underlying cause and not just the symptom,” Price says. “The best thing that you could do is actually inflate it, because it’s been deflated over a period of time due to its conformation. I would still put a bar shoe on there, but I would balloon it and I would create an external digital cushion (Figure 4).”
Creating an external digital cushion helps stabilize both hoof capsules, supports the joint itself and stops the compression passively and dynamically.
“There is not one cure, there is not one shoe that will cure everything,” Price says. “While I might show you my preferred method, you may well have something completely different but end up arriving in the same place. That’s all that matters — journey and destination.”