Reversed Shoe

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Q: I have a Quater/Arab mare who foundered years ago and we finally got it to where you can't see it in the feet. Our farrier said that he can see a little founder in the feet still and would like to try something new. He would like to turn the shoe around and leave it like that to break off the founder. My parents are for it but I'm against it. My horse is 22years old and I only use her for pleasure riding and showing at the county fair. I think that this would prevent me from riding and because my horse is so old may cause her more problems in the long run. If you have heard anything on this method I would like to know about it. I just don't think it is wise that we do this but I would like to know more. Thank you for your help.

A: Your farrier may very well be able to see a little founder in your horse's feet, but what he proposes is not new. It may be new to him, but it is a shoeing practice that was discontinued by most farriers some 40 years ago. In those days the shoe was turned around to relieve pressure at the toe. It was believed that pressure at the toe caused the toe to push up against an already rotated coffin bone. There were other archaic methods also practiced in those days, and in spite of the well intended vets and horseshoers, most horses survived anyway.

I am frequently heard to be quoting myself saying, "Today's facts are tomorrow's theories". In other words, what we take for fact (the reversed shoe treatment in this case) will likely be disproved in the future, as it was.

I think that if you honestly feel, as your farrier does, that there are lingering signs of laminitis, then radiographs should be taken and corrective shoeing for founder as it is today being practiced should be undertaken.

You did not say what your farrier was seeing to cause him to believe there was still founder in the feet. I suspect a condition known as seedy toe, that looks like the laminae of the white line have been stretched in the area of the toe. The white line is that little line just inside the wall, between the wall and the sole. The white line is normally about 1/8" wide and should be the same width from heel, all around the toe, and to the other heel. If it is stretched out at the toe, the condition is known as seedy toe.

If there is no rotation of the coffin bone, treatment for seedy toe would entail a hoof wall resection (removal) up the wall to solid attachment where there are no longer any stretched fibrous laminae. This area would then need to be kept clean and debrided continuously until it grows down solid to the ground.

It would be interesting, to know exactly what lead your farrier to believe he could still see founder, and exactly what he meant by "break off the founder". This is a term with which I am unfamiliar.

I suspect your parents are for the suggested backwards shoeing procedure because of their lack of knowledge, and their faith and confidence in your farrier. I suggest that you and your parents get a second opinion after reading all the information on my web site dealing with founder.

Putting the shoes on backwards would not necessarily prevent you from riding your horse. It could subject your horse to stone bruising by not protecting the front of the horse's toe and sole.

Once again, read all I have written on the web site. Click on Horseshoeing Articles and Q&As alike, and you will see that there is no mention of putting shoes on backwards. Print out copies of my articles and Q&As and give them to your farrier, vet and parents.

E-mail me back and let me know what decisions were made and how your mare is doing.


Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon


Hoof with Seedy Toe

Note the stretched laminae at the toe. This gives the hoof capsule the elongated shape typically associated with seedy toe.



Hoof Wall Resection
 on a foundered horse

4_Close_View_with_Shoe.jpg (45313 bytes)
Click on the picture to see it full-sized!

You will note that there is no blood on the floor because there is no circulation in this area of the hoof when seedy toe and acute laminitis are present. This condition causes nerve endings to pull back, making the resection procedure painless for the horse.
   The horse pictured above made a full recovery and grew a well attached and healthy foot in one year.


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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.