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Farrier Q&A: November 2015

When you get ready to trim and place the next set of shoes on a horse, how much do you rely on reading the actual amount of wear on the existing shoes? What do you look for and how do you use this info in deciding how best to shoe the horse?

A: Most of the horses I am involved with for shoeing are in some sort of rehabilitation for hoof pathology and lameness. We utilize the wear patterns and amount of wear the shoes encounter to prescribe future shoeing needs.

I have learned to use materials that wear or conform easily to these rehabilitating feet to help speed up the rehabilitation process (e.g. wood vs. steel, aluminum vs. steel, wood/EVA vs. wood — the material depending on the severity of the pathology/lameness and needs of the rehabilitation program, including footing).

I often use Steward EVA foam pads temporarily attached to the foot with Elastikon or duct tape and exercise the patient to allow the pad to plastically deform to the needs of the horse and its individual hoof. The material is the same as the Croc shoes that humans wear, but has a durometer score that works on the average horse.

Hoof landings and overloads can be readily observed by the farrier and owners during a walk, and can be permanently deformed into the pad in a short period of time or sometimes immediately. This system is a crude pressure-mat system and gives some of the same information worn shoes reveal.

— Mike Steward, DVM, McLeod, Okla.

A: Shoe wear is an indicator of many things. Slipping too much, certain lameness problems and breakover issues are just some of the things shoe wear can show you.

The most graphic thing that would make me change how I shoe a horse is…

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