In recent years, the art of therapeutic and corrective shoeing has come a long way, and now many lame horses can be given new pain-free lives, and can even resume work. Depending on the situation, there are many types of shoes to help your horse ? here are just a few:
- Heart-Bar Shoes. These shoes circle the entire hoof and also line up with the frog to provide added support. Traditionally used with foundered horses, heart-bars can help the frog to provide weight-bearing support. These shoes typically require an x-ray so the farrier can properly line up the shoe to provide the correct support.
- Egg Bar Shoes. These oval shoes provide extra support to your horse?s feet, especially in the heel area. Useful for navicular disease and underrun heels, these shoes are not quite as common as heart-bars.
- Natural Balance Shoes. Although made of a somewhat softer aluminum alloy, Natural Balance shoes are a lightweight choice that mimic your horse?s natural foundation. Allowing for a more natural breakover and better sole support, these can be a great choice for any horse, including those that are lame.
- Hoof Pads. Although there is heated debate around the merits and drawbacks to using hoof pads, they are generally considered useful in certain situations. Particularly with foundered horses, a properly set pad can provide the frog support needed to make the horse more comfortable. Before using the pad, the hoof is always packed with material ? many farriers use the same malleable plastic that dentists use for making moulds of your teeth. Once the packing and pad are in place, the farrier will nail on the horseshoe.
Remember that special shoes do not magically heal your horse, and if improperly used can actually do even further damage. Also be aware that with most of these different types of special shoes, great care must be taken to clean the hooves daily. Dirt and manure can easily build up in these shoes, which cover a large part of the horse?s foot. Bell boots are a good option as well, since there is a greater chance for your horse to catch his hind foot on the steel of the front shoe.