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Wedge pads have probably been in use as long as farriers have wanted to increase a hoof angle.
Most modern wedge pads are made from plastic, rubber or some other synthetic material and are made to provide elevation of either 2 or 3 degrees. Wedge pads are also sometimes called degree pads. Wedge pads are available in full, oval and square configurations, as well as in a heel bar configuration. There are also some open, full wedge pads (they resemble an egg bar) on the market.
Farriers use wedge pads for a variety of purposes, such as increasing a hoof angle, reducing concussion, adding support, protecting the heel area and reducing stress on the flexor tendons or suspensory ligaments.
Wedge pads are a useful tool for farriers, according to retired California shoer Blake Brown. He says he used them primarily for heel elevation while he was working as the farrier at the Loomis Bay Equine Veterinary Hospital in California.
“They are a great, great product,” he says. “They can take care of a lot of issues.”
Wedge pads can elevate heels that are too low, Brown says. With horses suffering from ringbone or arthritis, he says wedge pads can give some relief to horses by bringing the pastern into alignment. In fact, some form of realignment is the object of most uses of wedge pads.
Shoers may also trim or rasp them on one side to deal with imbalance issues that occur when a horse wears one…