The Heart Bar: A Precision Horseshoe For Laminitis

Proper evaluation, a perfect fit and constant aftercare are essential for success with this shoe

The heart bar shoe, as analyzed by Burney Chapman and Dr. George Platt at the 1984 American Association of Equine Practitioners meeting, was said by Dr. James Coffman of Manhattan, Kan., to be “a major advance in the management of laminitis...because it is based soundly upon the vascular anatomy of the foot.” (See pages 61 to 75 in the May/June, 2000, issue of American Farriers Journal.)

I believe the heart bar shoe is still the best mechanical treatment option for laminitis or founder if properly constructed, fit and applied. Understanding foot vascular anatomy is essential.

No mechanical treatment is 100 percent effective for this serious disease, but it’s been my experience that the heart bar shoe has the greatest chance of success of any options. Horses treated for laminitis or founder don’t always return to full function, but they have a better chance with frog support. 

Most people who say heart bar shoes don’t work are admitting they haven’t taken the time to learn how to use it. And as Chapman said in his presentation 16 years ago, “There are many more wrong ways than right ways to use it.”

The heart bar shoe is a precision horseshoe. It must be constructed, fit and applied with accuracy. Robert Eustace of the Laminitis Clinic in England, says, “Ninety percent of laminitis and founder cases are more comfortable with frog supports correctly fitted.” Our learning curve can be shortened if we learn from the experts. 

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Doug butler 0917

Doug Butler

Doug Butler and his sons Jake and Pete run Butler Professional Farrier School, LLC near Chadron, Neb. They have trained successful farriers from all over the world. Their weekly “Farrier Focus Podcast” features interviews with successful horsemen and farriers. They have authored many of the standard texts used for modern farrier training. Doug was one of 51 teachers interviewed by Bill Smoot for his 2010 book “Conversations with Great Teachers” published by Indiana University Press.

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