Keeping Egg Bar Shoes On

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Q: After pouring over the endless amount of information and opinion available on the proper shoeing of a horse with diagnosed navicular "disease" "syndrome", one relative constant is the recommendation of the egg bar shoe. I have tried this in the past on more than one occasion. The problem I have run into is that the horse tends to over-reach with the hind foot and tears the shoe off. This has been just out on grass and not even working. Is there some secret method for keeping them on? Thanks,

A: A horse that tends to be a shoe puller will be hard put to keep egg bars on.

Some egg bar shoes are shaped more like ovals than eggs. In other words, the part that sticks out past the hoof is about as wide and rounded as the toe. These shoes will be quite likely to get pulled off. If the back of the egg bar is made narrower and more pointed (they are called egg bar shoes, and not oval shoes for a reason!) the horse is less likely to step on them. Remember that at best the clearance by the hind foot of the front foot is very small whether measured in time or distance and every little bit of extra shoe sticking out to the side will add to the danger of it being stepped on.

As indicated above, proper management can decrease the chance of the egg bars coming off. More shoes are pulled off by a horse playing in a pasture than when he is being ridden. Some horses may not be able to be turned out at all, especially if the paddock is muddy or on a steep hillside. Most horses don't run excessively if they are turned out daily for at least a few hours and if they are being ridden regularly, but some do. If possible, turn the horse out after he has been ridden and avoid situations that encourage running such as taking his pasture buddies in and leaving him out alone.

When riding the horse with egg bars pay special attention to his balance. Learn how to tell when he is falling on the forehand and how to prevent it. Sometimes the loss of balance is so quick that even the best rider can't get the horse off the fore in time to stop him from stepping on the front shoes, but usually it can be done.

Many horses that routinely pull shoes do so because their backs are sore and it hurts to try to carry weight on their haunches. These horses will be really hard if not impossible to keep egg bars on until the back problem is rectified. I recommend a good chiropractor and/or massage therapist.

Some horses pull shoes because the tendons in their front legs are sore. Egg bar shoes will frequently help relieve stress of these tendons and allow them to heal, but of course you have to keep the egg bars on for this to happen. These horses are candidates for no turn out in the short term, or turn out only in small and dry corrals, and exceptionally careful riding. As the tendons heal, the horse will pull shoes less often. It can be a long frustrating process keeping him properly shod during the recovery period but the end result will be worth it.

The farrier should be especially careful to make fine clinches when shoeing with egg bars because they will get stepped on at least a little more often than a regular shoe will. With fine clinches the shoe will come off without taking huge chunks of hoof wall with it.

I have a Thoroughbred gelding I bought off the race track when he was 5 years old that had typically terrible feet and a very sore back as well as an injured tendon to support. We kept him shod with egg bars for a long, long time. It seemed like forever, actually. At first he wasn't being ridden and all he wanted to do was run during turn out. We lived in Oregon so mud was a real issue a good part of the year. Since he wasn't trained yet, balancing him when I finally started riding him was difficult if not impossible. We stuck to it, though, and the egg bar shoes, training, and chiropractic therapy finally paid off. He is now 17 years old with pretty good feet, sound tendons and a good back and is a great horse to ride. He still likes to run the pasture and will occasionally jerk off a shoe. I credit the egg bar shoes for much of his recovery.

So, if egg bar shoes are indicated for your navicular horse, I would say to give them a try, but keep the above management practices in mind. You could try a wedged regular shoe with a wide bar such as a piece of hoof rasp welded between the branches to protect the navicular area from being struck from below as an alternative if your vet and farrier agreed. This shoe is of course easier to keep on and has been very effective with navicular horses.

Good luck and keep me posted about what you do and how it works!

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.