Hoof Repair Composites and Other Modern Materials, AAEP 2008

Glue-on shoes and other materials are indicated for cases of poor hoof quality or repeated shoe loss, or for crack repair, rebuilding a hoof, and preventing wear, began Bryan Fraley, DVM, of Veterinary Podiatry Associates in Harrodsburg, Ky., who presented during the "Putting Science into Farriery" session at the 2008 Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

He discussed the properties of various commercially available glues, including polyurethanes, acrylics, and epoxy-methylmethacrylates, and tips for using them. Many types of synthetic fibers (such as fiberglass, Spectra fiber, Kevlar, polyester, and Vectran) are also being used to further strengthen repairs, he noted.

Proper foot and shoe preparation is key to success when using hoof repair composites and adhesives, he said. Hooves need to be properly trimmed, cleaned, and dry, and any defects need to be carefully cleaned and packed to avoid sealing in bacteria, which invite a painful abscess. Grinding the glue surface of an aluminum shoe just before gluing (to remove the aluminum oxide that quickly forms when aluminum is exposed to oxygen in the air) makes a big difference in bond strength, he noted.

Shoes can be glued on directly or indirectly, Fraley explained. Glue is used just between the bottom of the foot and the shoe when gluing directly, while indirect gluing involves applying adhesive on tabs or cuffs around the outside of the hoof wall. Direct glue requires less shoe inventory as you can use typical aluminum keg shoes, and the application is simple and atraumatic to the foot. However, he cautioned that applying glue to the bottom of the foot increases the risk of sealing in bacteria that can cause abscesses if care is not taken in foot preparation.

In comparison, indirect glue carries less risk of abscesses, doesn't lock the heels in as much, and pads can be more easily used with this method. The downside is that the materials often used for tabbed or cuffed shoes can be tough to shape to the foot with traditional methods, and they require substantial amounts of glue that can be hard on the hoof in some environments (and they tend to hold too much moisture in the hoof in very humid environments).

"Don't be afraid to try these things," he concluded.

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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