Heart Bar Shoes

Being Careful With Heart Bar Shoes

Applied incorrectly, the heart bar shoe can go from a life-saving therapeutic aid to a damaging piece of equipment

HEART BAR SHOES. With heart bar shoes, frog support and the transference of weight-bearing pressures are key components for successfully using the shoe as a therapeutic device.

When the duo of Burney Chapman and George Platt popularized the use of heart bar shoes for foundered and laminitic horses in the late 1960s, it set off a firestorm of innovations and design-styles for therapeutic horseshoes that reinvigorated the hoof-care industry. As with any new technology, however, the shoe can have dire ramifications and damaging consequences if used improperly or applied incorrectly.

Chapman, the late farrier from Lubbock, Texas, and Platt, the equine veterinarian who practices in Eagle, Colo., ascertained that the frog — normally viewed as the “blood pump” of the foot — could actually share, along with the hoof wall, a substantial proportion of the weight-bearing load without being damaged or putting a foundered or laminitic horse through any additional discomfort. They pointed to the fact that the frog has no major blood supply in it and actually serves little function when it comes to pumping veinous blood throughout the foot and back up the leg.

This idea, combined with other anatomical and etiological considerations prompted the duo to study the principle of unloading the wall and transferring weight bearing to the frog and bony column leading to the technique of applying a heart bar shoe design for therapeutic use.

Ambrose Gordon, a farrier from Kerville, Texas, says that although farriers can buy just about any type of specialty shoe…

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