So I have a few farriers to choose from that I are good options (if you read my latest threads). I have had him trimmed and so far he seems comfortable barefoot. But the farrier I am trying says my horse has no heals and wants to put wedge pads on all four feet. I am very apprehensive of wedge pads and said I would be very hesitant unless my vet concurred.
So what are the wedge pads good for?
I'm definitely no farrier expert by any means. However, I have always been taught that wedge pads are a temporary solution that cause more problems in the long run. The wedge adds additional pressure to the heels, and therefore, cause the horse to not grow any heel or even lose what heel they do have. But then again, I could have been taught wrong.
Originally Posted by laughATTACK
These are sort of my concerns too. I am very weary of using wedges.
I tried a wedge on just the RF on my horse. It lasted 5 days before I called to have it taken off. It made my horse worse. He has thinning heel so we figured we'd give it a try. Nope. He was telling us no way!
Won't do it again. I've never heard of wedge pads on all 4 feet before. Usually just the fronts. Hmmm.....
I'm sure that when done correctly by a competent farrier, wedge pads can be very helpful. However my experience with wedges made my horse worse in the long run. He is most comfortable barefoot with extra height left on his heel.
My vet had my one gelding in wedges all around after his SI injury to try and eliminate the back soreness...he was only in them for 4 weeks, then we went to a steel shoe in the rear, Natural balance in the front.
Course....I'm still having feet issues....but his back-soreness (reason for the wedge) is gone.
One of mine needs wedges due to an old DDFT injury and the fact that he has low heels and sort of crummy front feet. His BACK feet are to die for. :sigh:
Anyhow, I vastly prefer wedge SHOES because this allows me to use a pour-in product (forget what it's called, the normal stuff farriers use) to make up for the fact that the wedges don't allow his frogs to contact the ground as well. The pour-ins provide frog pressure and help to keep his angles correct. He's spent months barefoot from time to time but it doesn't ever seem to help change the basic nature of his feet, which is a shame, but the horse needs shoes to work and the wedges (aluminum, Natural Balance) work really well. He used to be in 3 degrees and is now down to 2 degrees.
My TB has crappy, crappy front feet (very stereotypical TB). We did x-rays several years ago out of curiosity, and he's lived in wedge pads ever since. Unlike DW, both of my good farriers have preferred wedge pads to wedge shoes, and always comment on that when they're doing my guy. I'm not sure what their reasoning is for it, but from what they've said it sounds like a personal preference for my guy in particular. But like DW's horse, my guy absolutely needs the pads for the frog support when he's wedged. We did wedge rim pads (not sure if that's the right term?) for a while without the full sole pads in order to give my guys' feet a break from the pads, and it worked well at the end of the winter when we were focusing mostly on flat work. But he still had that set up when we went to our first show and he was crippled by the end of a week of jumping big jumps. My farrier felt that the force of landing was essentially punching his heels down into nothingness, leading to a mechanical founder of sorts (he was fine after a couple of days off). I spent the whole week bringing in acupuncturists and massage therapists thinking it was his back before we hit the last day and it suddenly occurred to me that we hadn't put his full pads back on yet.
For the last year I've been through several farriers since my [very good] guy moved to Arizona, and every one of the has declared that we're going to wean my guy from wedges. But we're going on 3 years in wedges and he still goes well in them and his feet are no worse for the wear (nor are they much better). And we have moved from a 3 degree on his RF and a 2 degree on his LF to two 2 degree wedges. From what I understand, you have to watch out for the wedges crushing the heels further, but my guy had no heel to start, and his feet look no different at the end of 3 years in wedges than they did after 3 years (of good shoeing) in regular shoes. Although my warning there is that can relate directly to the skill of your farrier. I had a new guy do 3 shoeing cycles on my guy and the difference in his feet in those 4 months was horrifying (his heels were horrifically underrun because of how he was trimming him before putting the pads/wedges back on). My new guy is now fixing that mess.
In the 3 years of wedges we've also tried pretty much every set-up my farrier could think of.....many different pad types, pour in materials, aluminum shoes, wedging the shoes (with regular pads), using Equilox to wedge, and so on. My horse has strong preferences, and I think we're finally at a point where we know how to maintain him best (fingers crossed!).
Anyhow, my point is that wedges are not necessarily bad, and can be very helpful...even long term. But I would personally be curious about someone wanting to put wedges all around. I guess I would want a vet to x-ray and confirm that it made sense. And really that goes for wedging just the fronts too. Because of the risks to the foot (or maybe "implications" rather than "risks"), I would want a good picture of what was going on in the foot before making that decision. I would also want to know that the farrier had a plan and was either working towards getting him back out of wedges or had a good reason for keeping him in them.
I would also imagine that you'd want to x ray before planning a full time wedge program to confirm a negative palmer angle. Everyone...including my vet and a very experienced rehab farrier said my guy needed wedge shoes with frog support.
We did the x rays and his angles are actually perfect, however he has very very thin soles and needs absolutely no sole or frog pressure (vet said the heartbars we were considering before would quite likely of perforated his sole since he didn't have sufficient depth for his frogs to support that pressure). So anyway...
PNW-have you every used the Morrison Roller shoes? I have a good friend that moved her mare out of wedge shoes into the Morrison Roller and she loves them.
Of course...if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
I'll ask my farrier about them....thanks for the suggestion :)
Originally Posted by Jumper_girl221
But yes, since we seem to have a happy horse right now I am very reluctant to change without a good reason! Especially on the tail end of a run of several very bad farriers. :sigh:
They are similar to a wedge, but actually designed to take all pressure off the heel so you can actually grow heel (your guy seems to keep it trimmed back, but a wedge will actually crush the heel and inhibit "correct" growth, and some farriers won't catch that and it makes the problem worse).
Talks about it a little bit. I'm looking at it for my guy right now....although he actually doesnt' need a wedge. Just trying to figure out SOMETHING to get this horse sound!
Interesting, my farrier has a similar preference to that PNW talks about, opting for wedge pads rather than wedge shoes, but I don't recall why. Will ask him. I have in the past had a horse with two very different fronts -- one more upright and the other flat and no heel. Caused her to move slightly different. We kept her in a wedge pad on the flat foot to even things and she wore it for years and did well. Some vets loved it, and some hated it, but it worked! What's also interesting was her half bro came in with the same feet, so it seemed to run in that line a bit.
I have another horse that is just happier in his high heels (wedge shoes). He's a little guy among my big WBs (only 15.2) and has a lot of attitude, so I joke about the lifts in his shoes making him feel bigger and badder. He went in wedge full pads with the soft equipak stuff under them for a couple of years and it made a huge difference in his comfort level. Left them off for a year while he was at home to give his feet a break, but he's gone back in wedge rim pads for now as he's getting into work again. Farrier wanted to keep the sole/frog open, but I don't think he's as happy (horse) so might have to go back to full with the equipak. All the time he went in wedges, we never had an issue with his heels getting crushed. I also keep mine on a 6 week or less scheme so things don't get out of hand.
In my custom, I have several horses who have successfully worn shoes and wedge pads for years. Wedge pads like many/most orthotics get a bad rap because of people who apply them without really having the skill or knowledge to do so correctly.
And, while I use both wedge pads and wedged heel shoes(sometimes in combination), for horses that will spend a preponderance of their time on soft ground, I prefer pads and usually, a wide webbed aluminum shoe with appropriate supplemental frog support amended to either the shoe or the pad on both the foot and ground surfaces.
One other point. I keep reading about farriers using a 3* or a 2*/whatever pad. However, there are very few pads on the market that are actually 'degree' pads and they are clearly imprinted with the actual degree of the pad. All the other pads go by numbers, ie: a#1, #2, #3, etc pad. These numbers do not reflect the actual degree of the pad especially with the larger numbers. In point of fact, a #2 wedge will be closer to 3 or 4 degrees, depending. And so it goes.......
I have now 13yo AQHA with short heels, crappy feet, and has been in wedge pads and wedge shoes (front only). He does very, very well in the pads but will not keep the shoes on (I think he steps on the sides). From time to time he goes without but has gone 1000x better with them and I have been very pleased.