Bar Shoes for Hock Problems?

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Q: The Vet says bar shoes on the back due to hock issues – wear and tear for a 15 year old Tb who travels close behind.

The farrier says it is better “not” to use the bar shoes and doesn’t help the hocks – just crushes the heel in the long run


A:  You didn't give me a lot of specifics here, but I will give you a few generalizations that may help clarify the situation for you.
To relieve hock problems, shoes to ease breakover will usually be used, such as a rolled toe or squared toe shoe.
Most horses suffering from bone spavin and many other hock problems benefit from the stability and heel support offered by egg bar shoes. Bar shoes do not provide extra heel support unless they extend farther back than the heels, at least 1/4" depending on the particular problems to be addressed and what activity the horse is used for.
A well applied egg bar shoe should not crush the heels, and in fact egg bars are frequently used to encourage better heel growth. There is much on our web site already written about egg bar shoes. Typing "egg bar shoes" in the search box at will yield many documents to read.
Frequently, raising the heels will also provide relief from hock problems. There are many means to accomplish this including swelled heels, wedge pads, and wedge shoes.
So, depending on the type of bar shoes your vet recommends, it looks like I probably agree with his recommendation. Although the vet should be open to discussing the details and even alternative shoeing styles with the farrier, generally speaking when the vet issues a shoeing prescription the farrier will want to try to follow it. If it is beyond the farrier's expertise, he should say so and call in a more experienced farrier to do the work. Much can be learned by him assisting the farrier that has been called in and the horse owner should not change farriers because her farrier calls in someone to help.
If the shoeing as prescribed by the vet doesn't seem to be working, it can be discussed and changed in subsequent shoeings.
Sometimes a farrier will refuse to follow a shoeing prescription on ethical grounds because he sincerely feels that it is just plain wrong and will do the horse great harm. This puts the horse owner in a difficult position because she has to decide whose advice to follow, and a new farrier will have to be found if she decides to go with the vet's prescription. Frankly, this situation should not arise very often.


Mary Bayard Fitzpatrick
American Blacksmith
Murphys, California



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This entire web site is copyright © protected.  © 1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard, © 2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.