New Horseshoeing Techniques

Look Mom! No Hands!

 by Charlene B. Cook DVM

Do you remember saying that when you were a kid? I do!

I am reminded of that saying periodically when we are shoeing horses. About now you probably think I am losing my mind. Not really.

Every Thursday here at CGES is Farrier Day when our farrier Rick Talbert is here to assist with clinic cases. It is my favorite day to work on lameness cases as so many of my cases have a problem that is helped by a change of shoeing.

Over the past several years Rick and I have used a variety of techniques that help treat lameness issues. Sometimes part of the problem belongs with the hoof itself particularly in cases where there is poor quality hoof wall or a lack of hoof wall to use traditional nailing techniques.

There are several options for horses who need to go "Nail-Free".

For some cases we have been using a Sigafoos Cuff. These special shoes have a fabric cuff made out of Kevlar (bullet proof vest material) that is bonded to a horse shoe. The cuffs are commercially made and a limited choice of shoes and sizes are available.

The hoof is trimmed and balanced and the wall is carefully prepared for glueing.

Horses wear the shoes well. In some cases the hoof grows out enough to allow traditional nailing techniques on the next shoeing.

In some cases where horses are particularly prone to throwing shoes the owners have elected to maintain the horse in the cuff shoes.

Another technique we have been using is the "Air Nail" technique.

In this technique the nails are placed in the shoe but they are glued to the outside of the hoof wall. In this photo you can see the entire nail is outside the hoof wall. Fitting an placement of the shoe is critical. We can use most any shoe with this technique but the fit is very important.

Another feature of the "Air Nail" technique is that it is painless. This becomes very important for horses with severe laminitis that cannot stand for the pounding of a hammer to place horse shoe nails. In this picture we are starting to glue the shoe to the outer hoof wall.

Another feature of this technique is that we can use the entire hoof wall to help secure the shoe. In this picture we are creating a "strap" of glue to help anchor the shoe. It's kind of like a "Mary Jane" shoe for the ladies!


Once the glue has been applied it must have a few minutes to sit and cure. Rick then begins the process of finishing the foot.

Here is the finished foot. In this picture the shoes have been on for the previous 6 weeks. The "Air Nailed" shoes stay on very well, are virtually painless to apply and allow us the flexibility to apply a large variety of shoes to meet our case needs.

Well that's all for now, I hope you've enjoyed seeing some new techniques we are using to help keep our patients doing what they do best!

Thank you for reading!