Friday 25 June 2010

Bar shoes and such...

Back to what I was thinking about on Monday - in other words the problem of weakness in the caudal hoof.

Every rehab horse that comes to Rockley comes with a caudal hoof pain diagnosis. What happens after that depends on the facilities and funds available to the vet and the owner, but what we see time and time again are horse which are reluctant to load the caudal hoof (ie the back of the hoof) for a variety of widely differing reasons.

Traditionally, many of these horses would have been diagnosed with navicular, but we now know that intially at least these conditions involve soft tissue - tendons and ligaments - which can only be seen clearly on MRI.

The normal range of therapies and treatments for these horses sometimes includes drug therapies but one thing that has almost always been tried is remedial farriery. The most common shoeing options are bar shoes or wedges. The problem with these shoes, though, is that they don't really solve the problem. Some horses improve over the short term in these shoes, because bar shoes stabilise a weak caudal hoof and wedge shoes allow the horse to walk perpetually toe first.

There was some interesting New Zealand research ( published, which evaluated the loading of the hoof in bar shoes and recommended them for these types of horses because:

"In comparison to the plain shoe, the eggbar shoe had less peak pressure at the heel"

That sounds like a great idea - as does the idea of allowing horse to walk toe first to relieve pressure on the DDFT...the only problem is that you still have a horse with a weak caudal hoof and soft tissue damage, and now there is no possibility of it becoming stronger. Wedges shorten the DDFT 24hrs a day, and can prevent the horse from being able to properly extend the coffin joint. Bar shoes may take the pressure off the heel, but without stimulus the heels have a terrible tendency to contract with corresponding damage to the frog.

Rather than just trying to take the caudal hoof out of the equation with bar shoes and wedges, shouldn't we be trying to restore it to healthy function?


RuckusButt said...

Hi, this is my first time visiting your blog (I think, lol). I think this post was very well articulated, clear and easy for non-experts who are keen to learn more to do just that - learn! Thank you.

Nic Barker said...

Thank you! Hope you visit again ;-)