There are several ways to shoe a foundered hoof/s and there are experienced farriers in dealing with founder. In reference to the latter, it is best to leave the decision up to the farrier in what to do and how to shoe or handle a particular case of founder. The severity of the disease will influence how it should be treated. The following type of shoeing cannot be applied in all cases, therefore this information is to one’s discretion as well as it is a part of information sharing for the sake of the horse well being.

This particular case involves one year-old case of founder, mainly of the left front with about 3.5 degree drop/rotation of the coffin bone. Soles were still protruding, the left front sole more than the right, hence it required to following type of shoeing and trimming. This horse was/is used for riding, while relatively sound, but on this particular day the horse also lost the right front shoe and was lame at this point.

Both feet were trimmed in such way that the sole and the walls were even and flat (Pic 1 and 2). The left front heals were lowered to maximum, while in the case of the right front not much was done, since the horse had most of his foot worn off to minimum. Therefore right front toe could not be rolled, because there was no foot to work with and the roll would cause injuries to already inflamed laminae. The left front toe was rolled (pic. 2 and 3) only mildly as it also had very little foot to work with.

If and when the soles have the tendency to protrude it is important to provide for the foot a similar contact with the ground as it would be when bear-footed, which is the whole idea behind the design of this type of cross-bar-shoe-pad combination Pic. 6).

In most cases I have seen folks using rear bar, which serves to no purpose what so ever in foundered horse’s hoof/s. The design of this particular bar serves to provide a support for the sole at the point of its weakness (Pic. 13 point B) caused by the rotation/dropping of the coffin bone, thus preventing further turning. In some cases the horse may go a little lame for couple of days, but most of the time they do not. To set such bar under the foot is somewhat delicate work and requires some experience with it. As in most cases of founder, the sole should not be removed lower than the carrying ability of the walls in order to share the weight with the rest of the hoof. In this case the sole has to be lowered just enough so when the rasp slides flat across the sole of the foot, it will not leave any marks on the sole where is to be the bar. Of course this cannot be done always, as many cases are more severe than this one and the walls may be more damaged. In such cases other therapeutic treatments come in effect. Never the less, this type of shoe seemed to work for me in positive way in several cases. The roll in the toe plays also great role in reduction of the stress on the coffin bone at the point of break-over as well as it will reduces the progressive white line crumbling/rot often associated with older foundered hoof.

The cross bar will put sufficient pressure on the sole, enough to stimulate it’s growth. In time, the sole under the point/toe of the coffin will get thicker and thicker and in some cases (especially in the early stages) will repair to some point the damages caused by the founder. In older founder there might be some set backs associated with some forms of permanent arthritic changes in the coffin joint as well as in the pastern. In such cases it is best not to change the angle of the hoof too much. This is very much to the discretion of the farrier as well as the veterinarian who is the only one who can estimate the damages through x-rays. All in all one has to observe the horse, who will let anyone know how things are going and what is the best form of treatment for him.

A rubber pad is not used, since it is too soft and not firm enough as the ground would be. There are several reasons for this particular pad used in this combination. 1) To prevent dirt accumulation under the bar. 2. The nylon has similar firmness as the ground, but not as hard as the steel, thus protecting to some point the sole from the bruising that could be caused by the bar. 3) The frog cushion provides an extension of the soft carrying part of the foot and plays a great role in the equal distribution of the weight on the foot, similar to its nature, as well as to the general health of the hoof. (Rear bar serves to no such purpose). 4) The pad also protects the already bruised sole of the hoof as can be seen on some of the photos (pic. 2 and 3).

In this case the horse was lame about 25% in the right front (lost shoe) before shoeing and not willing to move or trot. After the shoeing the horse was 98% sound in the right front and about 10% off in the left front, only when lunged to the left. The left front hoof capsule is obviously somewhat offset which will take some time to correct, especially with a slow hoof growth. Otherwise the horse seemed to be much more willing to cooperate and willing to move. In this case, there must be some arthritic problems present due to being it an older case of founder and often in such cases when the angle of the affected foot is changed/lowered it could make the horse slightly lame for couple of days. In this case 2 pills of Bute were given and than one pill for next two or three days. The Bute is also practical to use as preventative measure after this type of shoeing, to prevent possible inflammation = abscess under the coffin bone, should the pressure be too much. Though it never happened for me in all the cases when this type of shoeing was applied, the precaution should be taken by administering the Bute for two or three days after. Should the horse’s lameness increase more than 10% in comparison before and after, the whole treatment should be revised and redone immediately.

The heels are lowered as much as possible.

The front of the toe is rolled; note the reduction of the damaged white line at the toe.

The cross bar to support the foot at the stress point B

A light shoe is used to reduce the increased weight of the shoe by the pad and the bar. The use of wide web shoes is not practical for a performance horses.

The heel and toe ratio is more to normal (2:1), while the previous ratio was 1.5 to 1. The wall was remove from the front, but not too deep to reach the white line, thus not disturbing the strength of the hoof.

This horse also had very uneven feet and as mentioned, the right front could not be rolled and it was in much sharper angle than the left front. Adjustments were made to accommodate the horse the best way possible. To substitute a roll in the toe, the front of the right shoe was beveled (Pic. 10) to adjust the break-over to the left foot as close as possible. This was the first time of this kind of shoeing for this horse and follow-up article will be published here to learn about a progress in this particular case.

Remember that all cases of founder have various degrees of severity and many of them have other side effects. In what to do in reference to therapeutic treatment of founder is solely up to the experienced farrier who needs to know the report on damages from the veterinarian. Hence cooperation of both, veterinarian and the farrier is of the essence to provide the best solution – treatment to the particular case of founder.

Both feet finished. The offset left (your right) capsule of the foot is quite noticeable here. Turned in and higher on the outer side.

Shows the stress points of the hoof collapse in founder (red).


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