Figure 1 & 2

Plastic Shoes and Foundered Hooves

Flexibility, improved shock absorption seen as advantages in treating laminitic episodes

Properly tapering the lap joint (scarfing) allows the edges of the materials to be properly blended during the welding process.

For the past 5 years, I have been applying plastic shoes to horses. These include “regular” horses, not just those with soundness issues. Over the past 4 years I’ve been involved (either directly or indirectly) with over 35 founder cases that have been treated using flexible shoes.

Why do I choose plastic over metal shoes? Because I want a prosthetic that is friendlier to the hoof’s function. Metal does not flex or absorb shock nearly as much as the natural hoof. The mechanical properties of metals (steel and aluminum) have little in common with those of hoof keratin (See Table 1). Flexible man-made synthetics like plastic come much closer.

Shoeing Choices

The three horses in the case studies presented here were initially shod with Marathon shoes (from Germany) and now with the EponaShoe.

I generally glue on the shoes rather than nail them because this leads to less hoof wall damage and because in some founder cases, there is no good wall to nail to. The glue spreads the load evenly and avoids concentrations at nail locations.

The EponaShoe provides good caudal support, which is important since in these cases loading of the hoof wall often needs to be minimized. I have chosen to write about these three particular horses because of the severity of the founder and because I have been able to follow their progress for a minimum…

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