Why use wedge pads?
Horse are designed to have angled pedal bones that rise slightly from front to back, providing scope for vertical flexion underneath the limb’s centre of gravity when it is under load.
But many horses have low or negative pedal bone angles due to poor heel structures. This puts excessive pressure on their joints and connective tissue, leading to chronic body soreness, poor movement and a shortened working life.
Horses feel better, move better and last longer when their pedal bones are adequately elevated; especially under the extra pressure of rider and saddle.
What about traditional treatments for low heels?
This problem has long been known and a couple of treatment options have been widely used with short term success, but nothing that sustains.
Firstly, metal shoes with a wedge built in to them produce an immediate restoration of pedal bone angle, but there is nothing to support the caudal hoof so extra pressure is directed to the heels beneath the shoes which are already compromised. The inevitable outcome of using wedge shoes is the heels getting further crushed and a return to the low angle that the hoof began with – even with the wedge still in place.
Secondly, hard plastic wedge pads are often put between a normal shoe and the hoof. The idea is that the pad provides a more complete support of the lifted caudal hoof. Again, there is usually a short term benefit. However, the plastic is hard so the clenches can remain tight, but hard plastic is very erosive to the flexible hoof.
The other problem with a plastic wedge pad nailed on with a shoe is that it seals off 24/7 the underneath of the hoof from the outside world. When the foot sweats, the moisture is locked in, setting up a really nasty environment. Even if you manage to suppress bacterial growth (which is not easy and requires some fairly hard core chemicals), the hoof tissues will lose their tensile strength and their ability to support the horse above, resulting in further structural decline.
Why are wedge pads better when used with hoof boots?
The best thing about hoof boots is that hooves can be supported under saddle but remain barefoot in the paddock. This way the hooves get a breather and maintain tensile strength.
If your horse has low pedal bone angles, these wedge pads can be worn inside hoofboots, without the heel crushing effects of permanently nailed on wedge shoes or sweaty pads.
Even if these pads are used in therapy boots for paddock turnout, the boots can still be removed for a period everyday so the hooves can be dried and if necessary, medicated.
Hoof boots are designed to fit hooves with a normal heel height, so when chronically low heels are raised with a wedge they actually fit better.
Softer rubber can also be used successfully in boots.
Why is natural rubber simply the best?
Rather than the destructive friction of hard polyethylene plastic pads that retards hoof development, the flexibility of natural rubber seems to stimulate hoof growth.
As an added bonus, natural rubber will bond to polyurethane sole pack, which means a horse can have form fitting orthotics that will literally put a spring in its stride.
These pads come in one size and are cut to fit.
They are large enough to fit up to a size 4 in the Easycare range and size 8 in the Scoot Boot range
They will fit all other brands of boots up to 148mm wide and 168mm long (please note that not all boot styles are designed to accommodate pads).
Made of 100% natural rubber, these wedges are very long lasting and will maintain their angle and won’t crush or disintegrate. They may cost more initially, but will be cheaper in the long run.