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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ages ago, a vet had said my gelding needed wedges to lift his heels, and my farrier later said, wedges tend to compress the heels further. We ended up going with pads, bringing the toe back, rolled, and a more frequent shoe cycle.

Another horse I am looking at now seems to check all my boxes, and he has low heels too. Only this one needs pour in pads and has wedges too. I am told by my trainer my existing farrier is better skilled than the sale horse's.
My question is what is your opinion of wedges, are they necessary or can they be eventually removed with a good farriery strategy?
 

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Wedges are interesting. On some horses they can be great, but on others they're just a band aid. My boy had them for a bit but they did compress his heels more. Lots of keratex and regular shoeing is what helped us the most.
 

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It depends on the reason wedges are applied.

There are a lot of horses that people claim have 'no heel', when they really have plenty of heel. It's just underrun. Wedges aren't going to fix that because the underlying problem isn't being addressed.

Wedges relieve pressure on the DDFT, so are useful for situations where that's a problem, like navicular and some laminitis. There's also an interesting effect that happens when the heel is lifted where the fetlock will drop more. Off the top of my head, that would be due to the lower tension on the DDFT? My horse is in wedges currently for that. He has contracted tendons so the wedge helps relax the fetlock and reduce the tendon tension.
 

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What @ApuetsoT said.

My horse is in wedges that are full pads and 3/8” at the back. He has packing under the wedges. He lives with residual effects of founder.

I have a therapeutic farrier for my horses. If your current farrier is as good as your trainer claims, pay him well:)

He also was recently switched to the flexible plastic Versa shoes by EasyCare. Greatest thing since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Those shoes are a miracle for reducing concussion.

7A6D10FD-FA4A-4076-9001-4647F6DD812B.jpeg
 

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Hi,

Agree mostly with Apuetsot. Different strokes. I just don't agree with the bit about wedges being a good move for laminitics though, or, aside from in the short term, say if someone suddenly lopped off high heels, that they're good for so called 'contracted tendons' tho.

If the horse has truly too low caudal foot angle - for eg there's no substance to the digital cushion, leaving the bones to 'drop' too low at the back (negative palmer angle), sometimes despite, often because of heel walls being left too long/high, it desperately needs extra support & protection under the caudal foot, BUT NOT THE WALLS - pour-in pads, or 'frog support' pads, or frog wedge pads or such will be good for providing comfortable support to the weak foot, preventing it 'dropping' lower, and potentially raising the heels some, facilitating comfortable stimulation - & therefore growth - of the caudal foot. But using conventional wedges, attached to a conventional, peripheral loading shoe, which raise the heel walls is not going to provide added support under the digital cushion, and will put more pressure/strain on the walls, to distort further.

As others have said, it's unfortunately common for heel walls to become long, but too low, because they've been crushed flat. Unfortunately it's still not rare for farriers & vets even, to look at a horse with 'crushed forward' heels and pronounce 'he doesn't grow a heel' - they just don't seem to recognise there's a HUGE one grown, but it's been deformed. I don't think conventional peripheral loading rims are a good thing generally anyway, but when applied to such a foot, all it does is put even more pressure on the horn.

If the horse has 'navicular' or such, it has been found to be a quite effective palliative, to raise heels. It's not a 'fix' though, allows the 'disease' to progress still, and after a while the whatever degree wedges tend to stop working to reduce the pain, so they go for higher wedges. There are generally far better ways to treat 'navicular' these days, aside from just palliative, so I'd reserve the conventional approach for 'too far gone' cases, those to whom nothing else has worked and you just want to give them a few more pain free years.
 

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Agree with Loosie- our Navicular mare wore wedge shoes for a few years and it ruined her shoulders - she has been barefoot for about 5 years now - she is currently not riding sound but is happy to canter and buck in the pasture. At 23 yrs old we are happy with that. I keep her toes back as far as I can and her heels are still very contracted with a tiny unhealthy frog. When she walks she does not really toe stab she slides her foot - shearing off most of her heel. She wears hoof boots most days to help with frog support (frog pads in boots) and occasionally she feels good enough to carry my 125lb daughter for a spin around the hay field. Her biggest issue really is shoulder arthritis and the body worked attributes a lot of that to the wedges compromising her natural gait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, all..for those comments and keep them coming! I have a test ride on Tuesday, and will take video and pics for my farrier, who commented: pads and equipak is a red flag. This gelding seems to be fully sound, but I am concerned about the long term affects that are negative to his soundness. It looks like it could be complicated not to mention costly.
Also xrays are limited in their ability to forsee some issues..I would do a PPE for sure, along with xrays. I am prepared to walk away, as I think that's one of the reasons this horse has been for sale for awhile.
 

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My question is what is your opinion of wedges, are they necessary or can they be eventually removed with a good farriery strategy?
It depends on that horse.

In my opinion, when folks talk of a horse that has low heels, not enough heel, etc etc, to me that is usually the result of poor trimming. Period. Whether you put shoes on your horse or not, the hoof itself still needs to be trimmed correctly in the first place before the shoes are put on.

I have two of my three horses in wedges (although I may drop the wedges on the one this year). Red has had heel pain ever since I have owned him at age 6. His x-rays are clean and he has pretty good feet. He's just slightly pigeon-toed but not too bad. But his heels hurt. He gets 3 degree wedges with his shoes and that is just one piece of his management program to keep him feeling the best I can. He also gets steroid injections into the coffin joint when needed (usually only have to do it once a year) and he also gets a Pentosan shot every 2 weeks, along with being on daily Equioxx during the competition season (about April to October).

Dexter got put in wedges after he started having a little bit of stiffness on his front feet. He has heel pain as well but it's no where near what Red has. However, his x-rays do show navicular changes. Based on that, we decided to do the wedges and put on Equioxx. However, he sustained a different injury a year and a half ago and won't be able to be ridden hard, so I think I may just do regular shoes with no pads this year and see how he does. He'll be mostly ridden by the kids so won't be ridden too hard. But I'm going to try Pentosan for him too, and will also put him on Equioxx.

Thanks, all..for those comments and keep them coming! I have a test ride on Tuesday, and will take video and pics for my farrier, who commented: pads and equipak is a red flag. This gelding seems to be fully sound, but I am concerned about the long term affects that are negative to his soundness. It looks like it could be complicated not to mention costly.
Also xrays are limited in their ability to forsee some issues..I would do a PPE for sure, along with xrays. I am prepared to walk away, as I think that's one of the reasons this horse has been for sale for awhile.
If this gelding checks all the boxes otherwise, of course it could be worth to do a PPE and I would absolutely do xrays - maybe even ultrasound. You need to fully understand what you are getting yourself into if you decide to purchase this horse. And understand the FINANCIAL ramifications of the years of continued management IF you can keep him sound.

I myself ...... I don't know if I would ever buy a horse already in wedges or Equipak, as I just frankly don't want to willingly sign up for that, LOL.
 

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I myself ...... I don't know if I would ever buy a horse already in wedges or Equipak, as I just frankly don't want to willingly sign up for that, LOL.
I completely agree with this ^^^^, even though I didn’t say it earlier, unless one is prepared to possibly end up with a pasture pet.

There is a reason for the phrase “no hoof no horse”, regardless of how many of the other boxes it checks on the list:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Absolutely agree with you. When i went to see this horse- the heart energy was so strong I found myself weeping for no apparent reason like it happened that way with my heart horse Ed.
The practical side of me said, are you not realizing it costs 4k a year just in therapeutic shoeing. My husband said, if he lives another 10 years that could be 50k in shoes-- hes only 14 now.
So heart horse or not, I think I would eventually regret buying a horse like this...just needed to hear more opinions.
 

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I agree with Loosie. It's a common palliative measure often suggested by vets. I think it can be helpful in the short-term with a very knowledgeable farrier and collaborative efforts with the vet, but I also feel it's a mask for the real problem at hand, which ends up just being placed aside because the horse 'appears' better.
 

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Have you x-rayed the horses hooves? You cannot fix a problem until you can 'see' the problem. I would not use pads etc until x rays are done. Also on the new horse you are buying, be sure to have those x rays done. I have on horse that rotated , he requires shoes , pads and a rolled toe on one front hoof, the other just has pads and shoes. He had a slight club foot and that foot has the bony changes now as he is aged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I decided to not pursue this horse. There is no guarantee the feet may be just maintained at 5K at year or will they eventually need more therapeutic care. That is a lot of money for a horse's plus boarding and all the rest that goes into horse care. Yikes.
 
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