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Jim Ferrie ranks among the world’s best possible sources for advice about bar shoes. He’s earned his way into the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame during his more than 30 years as a farrier, and he specializes in therapeutic shoeing while working in Newmilns, Ayrshire, Scotland.
Ferrie, who uses many types of bar shoes to treat a wide range of foot problems, concedes that bar shoes don’t guarantee improvement for every hoof. “Some I’ve helped, some I haven’t,” he says. But a properly chosen bar shoe increases the odds of success, he adds, by stabilizing the hoof capsule while providing medial/lateral and frog support, anterior/posterior balance and a larger ground bearing surface.
The first consideration in the correct use of bar shoes is assuring proper placement, which is possible even without the benefit of hoof X-rays, according to Ferrie. Finding the center of the coffin joint is essential, he says, and to do this he first locates the navicular bone.
“The navicular bone is at the midway point between the hairline at the bulbs of the heel to the hairline at the front of the coronet (Figure 1), give or take a couple of millimeters,” he says.
“If you were to then draw a line across the sole a third of the way forward from the navicular bone toward the front of the hoof wall, and then drew a perpendicular line from the leading edge of the foot toward the heel, the intersection of the two lines…