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My Zimbio

Gimmicks , gimmicks gimmicks
Tuesday 14th of October 2008 11:18 PM

Hello , been a while . Today is Monday 14th Oct.

First things first - Septembers Custom Hand Forged Hoof Pick winner is the fabulous Mr. Bill Eckroth of Mandan ND.    Contratulations !!!!   Whoah !   have fun

Today i want to touch base on horseshoeing gimmicks. These are go to notions that farriers sometimes come up with as a way to add flare to their shoeing - to separate them from the rest. It's an easy trap to fall into. When i graduated horseshoeing school really i felt as though you could fall off a turnip truck and shoe horses and one of the first things that went through my mind was what could i do to make my shoeing just alittle bit better than the next guys. Fortunately for me i graduated out of the way of thinking because i really found out what real shoeing is and it's much more important.

The list of basic gimmicks could be simply , Well " I like to put clips on the shoes to help them stay on better " - or " I like to roll the toe of the shoes " - or " i like to put trailers on the hind shoes " - and " Pads ! anytime something goes wrong with a horse lets put it in pads " and there's more but you get the idea.

Not too long ago i was called out to shoe for a client, he does shooting competitions from horseback and does very well. His horse is flat footed for one and i've been nursing it out of the other farriers poor shoeing and having to repair the long toe syndrome and sheered heel problems the other farrier left behind. So we put new shoes on the horse moved the toe back and fit the shoe slightly longer to compensate for the sheered heels (support ). 

One thing i couldn't predict was the horse was going to come up with sore bulbs of the heels. Either the horse is burying it's heels in the ground or intefering one or the other but i wasn't told about it. The story goes as follows.

While out on a competition my clients horse became sore in the bulbs of the heels. The farrier and the Vet at the competition both suggested "Pads" on the front feet. Excuse me but what really do pads have to do with the bulbs of the feet. Let me answer for you this question "Nothing" - pads have absolutely NOTHING to do with sore bulbs. I've seen this "Gimmick" so many times , it's as if anytime something goes wrong with a horse farriers and some vets even will say "Put pads on em" - it's like the Go To Answer. Well in this case the pads created more problems.

Since my clients horse is flat footed it's tricky keeping the sole from getting pressure and making the horse uncomfortable. In this case putting the pads on the horse and using a packing under the pad between the hoof and pad caused excessive pressure on the already sensitive sole and now instead of just having sore bulbs of the foot now the horse is getting more pain out of it's sole.  Fortunately my client "Quick thinking" in the heat of the competitions decided to just get his knife out and cut the pad out of the horse's foot and remove the packing that was causing the problem. It was good thinking on my clients part - he figured this out for himself in spite of the recommendations he had recieved.

There's a right way to shoe horses. I don't have any "Go To Gimmicks" with my shoeing and i haven't had a lame horse in over 17 years now - knock on wood. I rarely use pads and only if the horse is so sensitive soled it demands it . I have a client that his horse had foundered and the sole is so dropped now that the foot requires padding. I haven't used clips on shoes for almost forever and don't have frequent shoes being thrown. I rarely roll the toes on shoes and rarely ever use a custom shoe.

When all the principles of balance and correct shoeing are in place there is really no need for gimmicks. The gimmicks result and come about in my opinion from not having all the correct knowledge of shoeing practice. Getting the shoeing done correctly is really a complex process , Angles , level , toe length , heel support , direction of shoe , breakover point , wear patterns , load characteristics , how to address flares and even knowing how to recognize flares , the list is long. When all these conditions and more are addressed the shoeing becomes balanced and the need to gimmick the shoeing disappears - there's just no need for it. What's impressive is not the gimmicks but a farrier that knows how to get things done correctly.

In the 17 years i've been explaining my concepts of shoeing to new clients i've not run into one new client that said to me " I already knew that " - they've all been surprised by what they hear, and many of these clients have been into horses for years and years and used many farriers. I'm still shocked at this reality and the thought that so many farriers just don't get it and leave horses at risk of lameness.

So that's my story for tonight , just wanted to open your eyes to the world of gimmicks - from fancy trucks - to shiney new tools - to pads and silicone injections and a whole world of smoke and mirrors, hope you picked something up from this and it takes you alittle bit farther down your road of shoeing education. You know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And my personal saying is "You only get ONE chance to have your horse come up permanently lame". 

As usual happy and safe riding and always remember to

John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira  


Hi Suzann , thanks for writing in.

just rolling the toe of your horse with some navicular signs is not enough in my opinion. There are some things i recommend to you.

1, Start with bar shoes. Anytime there are signs of navicular your horse will be needing heel support. The bar shoe is just the ticket . I rarely have problems with bar shoes coming off horses - it does happen as it's alot of shoe sticking out the back of the foot. The rule is not to extend the shoe past the bulbs of the foot, that way less chance of the horse pulling the bar shoes off.

2, i recommend especially so with navicular to remove all the bars of the foot. The reason for this is those bars lock the heels and limit the amount of expansion of the heels. If your horse has navicular width of foot at the heels is always a important consideration , you'll be wanting those heels to get wider if possible, if you think the heels need widening and it hasn't been getting any wider there are pads that help spread the heels ( very worth looking into if a navicular problem is occuring ).

3, if your farrier doesn't know about how to level a foot correctly then the navicular bone is going to be in for trouble. Unless that joint (Coffin/navicular joint) are all lined up correctly the navicular bone which is already suffering has much more susceptibility of getting worse - rapidly.  On my blog at Http:// there is a link called "True Level" you can find it . it's a short video showing how to establish a truly level foot , it takes a subjective viewpoint but it's a foolproof method using the bones as the guide - can't get much better than that unless you use Xrays ( Not practical ). There's actually 2 links for True level , one doesn't work (i should remove it ) but the other one works - takes a minute to load so give it time but should help you with this important aspect of correct shoeing.

    Honestly if the foot is not level it can also be a contributing factor for navicular.

if you have any further questions feel free to email me personally at  i give consultation at no cost (Free ).  Enjoy it.

 thanks again - best wishes

as usual happy and safe riding and always remember to


Response 1
Thursday 16th of October 2008 05:25:45 PM
Submitted by: SuzAnn Warden
interesting I have a 15yr old mare with navicular and/or has a spur on the navicular that is pinching the digital tendon. All they have done for her is kept the toe short. She isn't any better I don't want the toe shortened she seems to roll over to fast and causes clumbsie steps.

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