Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Shoes

Life goes on, and part of Penn's rehab is "corrective" shoeing up front. It's not all that corrective, but it isn't as simple as plain shoes.
Please ask your farrier to adjust his front shoes as follows: set the shoe back to better support the caudal heels and shorten the toe. For the LF foot, we suggest an Onion style shoe, which has a wider branch at each heel region to provide a greater base of support. For the RF foot, we suggest a wider webbed medial branch and narrower lateral branch with a beveled edge at the lateral edge. This is to support the medial suspensory branch while it heals.
So red in the last light of day!

I opted not to reschedule his existing farrier appointment- he was due to be reset a week after our trip to VEI, so I let that roll and didn't take him for as many tack walks that first week.

This appointment took a long time- like 2.5 hours. My farrier has done onion shoes before, but not the shoe with widened medial branch. He did a lot of forge work- checking the fit of the shoes, going back to the forge and heating the shoe, hammering it, cooling it a little and then rechecking the fit. That on top of manually hammering out the wide parts of both shoes, and grinding the RF shoe down on the lateral branch, meant that this shoeing job took a while to do.

Luckily, out home vet was at the barn that night and was an invaluable resource. We were able to run the RF shoe by her before it was nailed to his hoof. She suggested a few changes to it, Farrier made them, she approved it, and on it went!

Barn cat Syndrome kept Penn company one evening.

It was neat to watch Penn's stance as the shoes were put on. I could tell he was instantly more comfortable because he stood squarer and more evenly on each foot. His right side that has been dramatically sunken (I had the saddle fitter out to refit his saddle because of it and she was astonished at the difference in shape because he's been very evenly muscled the entire time she's known him), and when the farrier was done, his right side had lifted up to be almost even.

There isn't much to say about a farrier appointment, so off to the shoes themselves!

Shortened toes. We're going to stick to no more than 4 week cycles to keep his toes short.
The heels of the shoe are a little further back than usual. I was told to go buy major bell boots so he doesn't accidentally rip them off.
The hole in the RF is where he stepped on himself many months ago (see below) and destroyed the coronary band, which resulted in a very deep hole. I was cleaning it every day to make sure nothing got packed in, which was annoying. Instead, I stuffed it 2 or 3 shoeing cycles ago with Keratex Hoof Putty. The putty is a little pricey but gets an A++ for longevity. I thought I would have to stuff it weekly, but I haven't had to restuff it once.
The original injury.
The LF: onion shoe
Onion shoes are wide at the end of the bar to provide heel support.
The RF: Wide medial branch that is thicker than the lateral branch, and beveled edge on the lateral edge of the lateral branch.
The vet wanted the medial branch thicker to prevent the tendons on that side from stretching as much as the ones on the lateral branch.

I took Penn for a spin after he got his new shoes, and he felt much much better. He has a habit of shuffling off the block, to the point where he looks lame. The time he spent doing that was significantly less, which was very exciting. He felt freer in his front end and shoulders and moved from collected walk to an extremely stretchy free walk easily and with continued reach and overstep.

New bell boots that will cover down to the ground and then some... they will drive me absolutely batty, but they should provide adequate coverage to keep his shoes on!

I took the pictures for the blog, but also to send to Dr Cricket at VEI. Since we had some confusion about how the RF should be set up, the farrier and I wanted to double check with her. Good news! Dr Cricket was extremely happy with the shoes. She said the onion shoe was well done, but she wants the medial branch of the RF to be even wider, and she wants the shoes set back even further to provide even more support for the heels. I told her we were doing a 4 week cycle to keep the toes short, and asked if she wanted him reset immediately or if the changes could wait. She said it was perfectly fine to wait until his next reset because these are more than adequate, so we now have a plan for the next visit!

His hips are almost even again. This is one week post-shoes, 6/20/2018. I wish I had taken pictures of him before!
His back is almost back to normal. The right side is no longer dramatically sunken.
I'm going to have to call the saddle fitter to come out and fix his new saddle! She was out for the 30 hour recheck at the end of May, and his right side had sunken so much that she had to add flocking to it... well now it needs reflocked... again. I tried to find his back tracings for this post, but I think I left them at the barn. :(
Also, I promise I'll write about his new saddle soon!

I am so grateful that there are no egos with any of his care: Home vet loves VEI and is happy to do whatever they want. Farrier is happy to do shoes the way VEI wants and is OK with me having VEI check them. Barn owner is happy to follow VEI's turnout plan and has been bringing Penn in as soon as his stall is done in the morning to get him out of the weather and bugs before he starts pacing in the dry lot, as well as keeping him in overnight when we get horrendous amounts of rain (like Wednesday afternoon and overnight). I was worried he'd lose weight in the dry lot since there's very little grass... I didn't have to worry! They throw hay to him every night, give him as much hay as he'll eat inside, and they've been liberally feeding him the Alfa-Lox I have sitting outside his stall. He's actually gotten a bit chunky! That's fine, the summer heat is coming and he'll be back to work soon enough!


  1. I find corrective shoes so interesting, and it's great when farrier/vet/fancy vet can all work together! Sounds like the shoes are already making a big difference helping Penn feel better :)

  2. i also find specialty farrier absolutely fascinating, the hoof is such an amazing structure and it's crazy what small changes in the shoe can produce in the body of the horse! fingers crossed that this prooves to be an important step in allowing Penn's body and structures to heal!! and that he can keep those pretty suckers firmly attached lol.

    fwiw Fran Jurga over at the Hoof Blog might be interested in this shoeing solution too...

  3. Sounds like you have a great team! It's so much less stressful when everyone is on the same page and works together.

  4. Fingers crossed everything works for the best <3 It can be hard to trust in the process, since it takes time, but I hope things are well soon.