Wedge Pads for Suspensory Tears?

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Q: I have a 14 year old quarter horse who is typical in that he has a large body and small feet. A little over a year ago he was diagnosed with a suspensory tendon tear. Well, it has been a very long process but he seems to finally be back to somewhat normal. He seems most comfortable and sound with a wedge pad. I have been hearing conflicting stories on the wedge pads; my vet recommended them but I have heard that they can be bad for the horse's tendons. What are your feelings?

Thanks so much.

A: Although veterinarians, leading equine educators and highly respected farriers throughout the world oftentimes prescribe wedge pads, my feelings on their use are generally negative.

My attitude against wedge pads is based on seeing the results of them in my 48 years of shoeing. Those results have been pretty consistent for as long as I can remember. There were a few horses that benefited from them. In the long run, however, most of the horses that appeared to benefit from wedge pads either broke down tendon-wise or totally eliminated nearly all heel they may have possessed before wearing the wedge pads.

I have found that the most successful way for me to shoe for a number of tendon/ligament injuries, including suspensory tears, is the dropped down egg bar shoe which is pictured on my Q&A entitled Bowed Tendon on Hind Leg. When elevating the heel is called for, I have found it best to do so with iron, or steel if you will, horseshoes. It is not my intent to slam those companies making wedge pads, or for that matter those companies making wedged aluminum shoes of which I am also not a fan. I have other Q&As addressing the wearing of pads, and you should be sure to read them. If there is any way that I can avoid putting on pads, I do so. There are times when I must put on pads, but never wedge pads. I have also addressed the reasons for using egg bar shoes in other Q&As. If you have more questions after reading these, please e-mail me again about what you do not understand and I will attempt to explain these things to you more fully.

I hope my suggestions assist you.

Respectfully yours,

Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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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.