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When horses return to work or to the show ring, a farrier must carefully evaluate the effect of continued use of therapeutic shoes
There are almost as many types of shoes as there are horses to wear them. Available in different weights, sizes and shapes, they’re also made from a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, synthetics, titanium and even rawhide.
They also come in open-heeled or in bar form, with a broad number of variations to accommodate different situations. Competition horses traditionally wear custom shoes tailored to their sport. The shoe list goes on and on.
The universe of configurations created to micromanage the biomechanics of hoof health and balance can be daunting to the newcomer and expert alike, especially when confronted with a horse who suddenly needs therapeutic shoes.
Mike Wildenstein, head of the farrier program at the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, has had years of experience working with therapeutic cases. Jeff Myrick, a Vermont farrier, has seen some of the same shoes used in therapeutic work applied to horses who have returned to work — and has sometimes seen problems with this.
Wildenstein, a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, an American Farrier’s Association certified journeyman farrier and a Fellow with Honors in the Worshipful Company of Farriers of Great Britain, discussed a few of the most commonly used corrective shoes and what conditions predicate their applications.
Wildenstein says it’s important to think about what the connected heels of the…