Equine podiatry

Shoes and pads – an introduction

Horseshoeing is a very complex topic. This section will just introduce the basics.

Horse shoes

Most shoes are metal (aluminum or steel) but can be plastic, wood or rubber.

Metal shoes can be manufactured in bulk (“keg” shoes due to the original shipping container) or made by hand using a forge.

Shoes are typically designed to protect the foot, enhance the horse’s action, or provide therapeutic support.


Pads may be added between the shoe and the sole to protect the sole, elevate the heel, prevent snow and ice buildup, change the gait or alter weight bearing. Pads can cover the entire sole (full) or just the outside edges (rim pads). Pads can be flat or wedged.

full snowball pad; soundhorse.com

Shoeing the horse

Shoes can be applied using nails, metal clips and/or glue. Most shoes are applied by farriers. Farriers have different classification levels and can attend school for a few months or several years.


20 common types of horse shoes

Farrier certification

Understanding the basic principles of podiatry, Vet Clin Equine 34 (2018) 391–407- imaging and farrier work

Influence of trimming, hoof angle and shoeing on breakover duration in sound horses examined with hoof-mounted inertial sensors, Vet Rec 2021 – good explanation of breakover and how shoes impact it

Clinical application of the wooden shoe to complement surgical management of laminitis and other foot-related disease in the horse: A report of three cases. Equine Vet Educ. 2023;35:e629–e636. recent article, good reference list for other options

Mechanical Principles of the Equine Foot Vet Clin Equine 37 (2021) 581–618



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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.