Exploring the Science Behind Wooden Shoes

Oklahoma veterinarian looks at why this system has proven an effective alternative treatment for laminitis and other cases

Numerous therapeutic shoeing methods have been proposed to aid the damaged hoof mechanics that are a result of laminitis. Chronic laminitis is defined by the presence of mechanical collapse of the lamellae and the displacement of the distal phalanx within the hoof capsule1. The use of the wooden shoe is gaining popularity among veterinarians and farriers as a very workable solution to the multitude of complications each case can present2. The advantages offered by the wooden shoe include:

  1. A-traumatic application using wood screws supported with hoof glue or fiberglass casting material.
  2. Easy adjustment to the horse’s comfort during and after application.
  3. Maximum recruitment of hoof-load-bearing surface area.
  4. Maximum mechanical advantages readily employed and easily adjustable.
  5. Maximum combination of rigidity, shock absorption, weight and wearability.
  6. Readily available materials for construction and application.
  7. Ease of shoe-design alterations (formable), including post-shoeing.
  8. Ease of application (and reapplication) for horse and farrier.
  9. Immediate analysis of gait and pain relief (usually expected).
  10. Accepts and maintains placement of viscoelastic sole-supporting material.
  11. Easily adaptable load bearing surface to unload pained (toe) areas as it protects the sole area from ground forces.
  12. Maximum stabilization of the third phalanx while maintaining mobility of patient.
  13. Maximum reduction of shear and bending forces to dorsal and palmar laminae while maintaining mobility of the patient.

The use of a full, rolling-motion metal shoe (a very similar design to the wooden shoe) with oakum sole packing was advocated in the late 1800s3 as a treatment for chronic laminitis. The…

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Micheal L Steward

Micheal Steward, DVM, is an International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame member and is based in Shawnee, Okla.

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