Sticky Situation - How to shoe when nails won't do

Stephen E. O'Grady, D.V.M.

The next time your farrier shows up, he might be pulling out a tube of glue instead of a box of nails. No-nail alternatives are not meant to replace conventional horseshoeing, but are a temporary measure that can be used to attach a shoe while treating or trying to resolve an underlying hoof problem.

Equilox, a polymethylmethacrylate composite, was introduced in 1986, having been developed for repair of hoof-wall losses and cracks. This acrylic is both flexible and adhesive.

Your farrier will trim the hoof and prepare it as for a normal shoeing. Any type of aluminum shoe--preferably one with quarter clips--can be used. The shoes are fitted so that they extend slightly beyond the hoof wall from the widest part of the hoof to the heel, thereby providing a "base" for the bead of composite that will be smoothed out onto the hoof wall.

The prepared hoof and aluminum shoe are washed with a solvent, and the composite is mixed, then combined with strands of fiberglass, a combination that makes the Equilox easier to mold and more flexible while adding structural strength to the bond.

The combined composite and fiberglass are rolled into two tubes. One roll is placed on either side of the prepared foot, starting at the quarter and extending to the heel.

The shoe is positioned, and the excess material on the hoof surface is molded to the existing concavity of the sole. This forms a false sole, which provides additional protection. The hoof is covered in plastic and allowed to cure.

To remove the shoe, hoof nippers are placed between the shoe and the hoof. One or two cuts are made through the glue at the heel, and the shoes are peeled forward.

Shoes should be reset in four to six weeks, and they can be glued on again, if necessary, or replaced with traditional horseshoes.

Glue-on shoes are rarely lost, if applied properly.

Stephen O'Grady is a vet and farrier with Northern Virginia Equine Practice, The Plains, Va.

Adhere to farriery principals

Horses with damaged, inconsistent or thin hoof walls can benefit from being shod without nails. Acute or chronic laminitis, extensive hoof wall separations (white line disease), resections or avulsions of the hoof wall, third phalanx fractures and severely damaged heels resulting from the long toe/underrun heel syndrome are all candidates for glue-on shoes.

Glue-on shoeing can be expensive and time-consuming. Success depends on proper hoof wall preparation, shoe fit and composite application. Glue-on shoes are not a replacement of the farriery skills used in resolving difficult cases, nor should the technology be mistaken for the fundamentals of proper horseshoeing.

All the available acrylics need tremendous heat to cure; exercise caution when repeatedly applying these products to a thin or compromised hoof wall. The acrylics' long-term effects on the hoof wall are not known at this time.

Southern States Cooperative, Inc., Reprinted from Mane Points, with permission of Southern States Cooperative, Inc.
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