Wedge Pads and Navicular Horses

Q. Is it beneficial to use wedge pads when treating or managing a horse with navicular syndrome?

John, via email

A. Wedge pads can be a very rewarding tool in shoeing some navicular cases. The biggest concern I have with wedge-heeled shoeing (including wedge pads and shoes that incorporate a wedge) is the potential to “crush” heels. It’s important to trim the heels to the widest point of the frog and not use the natural heel height to elevate the hoof, because longer heels become weak and will eventually underrun or crush. 

Raising the heels artificially through a pad or wedge heeled shoe can reduce tension on the deep flexor tendon and the navicular structures. Some horses shod with wedges can become more painful due to quicker heel strike (the heel striking the ground), however, so monitor your horse when transitioning into wedges.

About the Author

Josh Zacharias, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR

Josh Zacharias, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, is an Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduate who practices at Countryside Large Animal Veterinary Services in Greeley, Colorado. His interests include equine lameness, surgery, and podiatry. In addition to working as a surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Zacharias is a farrier with nearly 15 years of experience in therapeutic shoeing applications. Much of his caseload includes Western performance horses.

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