Farriers’ Roundtable

Q: “What can we do for horses with sore heels and navicular syndrome?”

A: In our practice, we work with a number of veterinarians and service several “rescue” facilities. The entire team — owner, veterinarian and farrier — must carefully evaluate each case. 

The sad reality is that the overwhelming majority of heel pain cases we see are the result of poor trimming and shoeing. The result is too much or too little heel, distorted hoof capsules and improperly fitted shoes. With diligence and a little patience on our part, we can usually return these horses to soundness quickly.

Horses with pathologies that can be diagnosed, such as hoof cracks, corns, abscesses and navicular syndrome require more complicated applications. 

There is no one system that works every time. We do not use many wedge pads, but we do make and apply swelled-heel shoes if the horse needs a lift. We use a lot of Equi-Build. I prefer the Equi-Build to the clear Equi-Pak to increase the weight-bearing surface. For some horses, a rim pad cut off to float the heels is effective. This can be used with an open-heeled shoe or a bar shoe.

Be flexible and open-minded. If your first effort does not achieve the desired result, try something else. Call in a colleague to have a look. Another pair of eyes often sees something you might have missed. Most of these horses did not get lame overnight and you can’t expect to fix them overnight either. 

—R.T. Goodrich,

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