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Proper Planning, Teamwork Play Big Role

Advancements in materials and techniques offer hope for serious injuries, but place premium on continuing hoof-care education


While a wide variety of therapeutic shoes and materials are available to farriers and veterinarians, proper diagnosis and a plan remains key in therapeutic shoeing.

Therapeutic shoeing has made great advances in the past few decades, partly because there’s more interest in this specialty, and also because of the development of better methods for dealing with therapeutic situations. But those same advancements place an even greater premium on proper hoof-care planning and teamwork between farriers, veterinarians, trainers and horse owners.

Amazing Advances

“Glue-on shoes alone have been a big help to a lot of horses,” says Steve Norman, a Georgetown, Ky., farrier who does a lot of work with racehorses. “You can support a compromised foot without having to traumatize the hoof wall by putting in nails. You can take a weak foot and make it stronger, without the horse missing a day of performance. You can glue on any type of bar shoe you want. I’ve been able to help a lot of horses that you could never nail a shoe on.

“Today we have new adhesives and materials, and it’s amazing what we are able to do, compared to what we could do 10 or 15 years ago,” says Michael Wildenstein, who recently retired from his position as associate professor of farriery science at Cornell University’s Veterinary School. “We’re using urethanes, plastics, adhesives and glue-on shoes, and doing things we could never do before. I’m able to help horses today that 15 years ago I might have had…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. Her new book, Horse Tales, is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online retailers.

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