Hoof Pads 101

Not sure when to use pads in your practice? Here’s an introduction to what’s available and basic information for using each style

It seems that every few months a new pad is introduced to the equine market. For inexperienced farriers, the overwhelming options can create confusion, which discourages pad usage in a practice. Understanding what’s available in pads and how they are used will help determine the appropriate pad for the intended use. 

Primarily, farriers use hoof pads as protection from ground forces and different footings that would adversely affect a horse’s foot. Pedal osteitis, thin soles, constant bruising and a variety of diseases can benefit from pad usage.

Concussion relief is another common use of pads, and perhaps the most popular rationale for pad request by the client.

Pads can be used in stacks, to accentuate movement in gaited horses, Arabians and Morgans. The number of pads and the thickness depends upon the horse and its discipline.

There are a variety of pads that have built-in frog support. However, their application and usefulness often is the subject of some debate among hoof-care professionals.

In addition, pads can increase the bearing surface of a portion of the foot when attempting therapeutic shoeing.

Downside To Pads

Although pads deliver many benefits, their use can also hamper the horse. For example, all pads create a loss of traction for the equine foot. Pads reduce the ability of the toe to dig into the ground during the breakover phase.

Being placed on the bottom of the foot, pads also can create an environment that is warm and moist. This environment is a breeding ground for…

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Bob Smith

Bob Smith is a Hall Of Fame farrier and owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif.

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