Steve Sandvil

Beyond The Basics: Therapeutic Horseshoeing

There are some guiding principles to keep in mind when shoeing injured horses


BIG JOB. Sometimes, a therapeutic shoeing job requires a shoer to be part farrier, part design engineer. The shoe shown in these photos was designed by farrier Steve Sandvil, of Johnsburg, Vt. The shoe provided a raised heel and included sockets for rails that went up past the knee to serve as a brace and support for other injuries to the leg.

You can’t really take a “back-to-basics” approach to therapeutic horseshoeing. By its very nature, shoeing horses that have suffered traumatic injuries is beyond the basics. But there are some guiding principles that are important to keep in mind when you are doing this type of shoeing.

Ric Redden, the Hall Of Fame equine veterinarian from Versailles, Ky., touched on therapeutic shoeing during a presentation on management of traumatic injuries to the hoof capsule at the third International Equine Conference on Laminitis & Diseases of the Foot at Palm Beach, Fla., during November.

Redden said a well-designed therapeutic shoe will:

  1. Provide a means to control post-operative hemorrhage.
  2. Provide protection for sensitive structures.
  3. Allow for daily bandage changes.
  4. Apply adequate pressure to the lamellar corium to limit excessive granulation and enhance cornification.
  5. Be applied easily and a-traumatically to the foot.
  6. Be low maintenance and economical.

Redden stresses the need for cooperation between a farrier and veterinarian in designing shoes for treating hoof capsule injuries. He says the mechanical approach must be planned with an eye toward optimum tissue healing as well as the immediate needs of the patient.

“The shoe…

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Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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