On Tuesday, I hauled Levi out to meet our farrier to get his fancy new sneakers tacked on. This whole trip turned out to be a bit more frustrating than I had anticipated when the truck once again refused to start. See, we never actually bothered to take the truck into get fixed after it wouldn’t start in December. We got it towed home and then a few days later called AAA out to tow the truck to the shop. The AAA guy climbed in and the truck just started right up. Damn. I guess we should have tried that. We know the problem is with the starter and the recommendation for a quick fix is to hit the starter with a wrench or a hammer. That didn’t work when we were stuck at the lesson, but I’m guessing the towing process jolted everything around enough that it started again.
It’s been starting since then and, while I knew the truck still needed to get fixed, I had been lulled into complacency by my laziness. The truck actually started when I first got in at the trailer’s parking spot. I pulled it down to the barn, turned it off to go get Levi, loaded him up, got back in and… nothing.
To make this extra annoying, I’d parked the truck and trailer across my car so I couldn’t get the car out either and there’s no cell service at our barn.
Hoping a good bump would get the starter to engage again, I took the parking brake off, then let my foot off the brake quickly and let the truck roll forward (the driveway is on an incline) and jolt to a stop against the parking gear. It worked! The truck started and -only slightly late – I made it to the farrier appointment where I proceeded to park and leave the truck running the entire time I was there. I had multiple people walk by and ask if I knew my truck was still on or if I’d like them to turn it off for me. Thanks, but no thanks.
Anyway, on to the new shoes. Sneakers are essentially orthotic shoes for horses. They combine a metal plate with a polyurethane shoe so the horse gets the cushion and support of a hoof boot, but it can be nailed on for convenience sake. I’d seen endurance horses using them, but not sport horses. When Levi was diagnosed, the vet recommended Sneakers. They are trickier than regular shoes to apply and most farriers don’t know how to do them or don’t want to. I lucked out though: my farrier is actually the largest user of Sneakers outside of the owner of the company.
I sent my farrier the x-rays and told him the vet had also recommended the Sneakers. He supported that recommendation and thought they’d provide the best support for his condition.
We couldn’t get them placed on at our regular farrier appointment because our barn doesn’t have electricity and he needs to run a bunch of tools to shape the shoes. Now that I’ve seen the shaping process, I can see why the average farrier doesn’t doSneakers; it’s a lot of work and requires some not so regular tools.
First step: trim the hoof as usual. Then place the Sneaker on the hoof and use a bright sharpie to draw lines where the Sneaker needs to be cut to fit. The metal clips also need to be pried out of the polyurethane, which was a lengthy process his apprentices struggled with a bit.
Next Step: Cut the shoe with a band saw. Your average farrier isn’t going to have a band saw. You can use a handheld jig saw, but my farrier said it’s a PITA and part of what makes most farriers not want to do these shoes.
Then you need to round all of the edges with a grinder. Once again, you can do this with a rasp, but it’ll take a lot longer.
Once they’ve been rounded, you need to use a drill press to add nail holes. Because these things don’t even come with nail holes.
Once you’ve shaped and drilled your shoes, you can apply them to the horse’s feet. I didn’t get a picture of this part because I was holding Levi. The only real difference here is that the nails need to be back-punched. This isn’t a part of normal shoeing (nail-on EasyShoes need this too and a ride farrier we tried to use once didn’t even have this tool so it appears to not be something every farrier does), but it you fail to do it with the Sneakers, you will lose them.
Finally, the nails get finished like normal, the clips get hammered down onto the hoof and you’re done.
From the image above, you can see just how thick these shoes are. They can be rounded for even more breakover, but they will wear down on their own as well. My farrier says most horses can get 1-2 resets, which will be nice since it won’t take any time to shape the shoes for a reset and we pay for the shoes + labor and the labor is the more expensive part. The shoes alone are $70, which isn’t cheap, but it’s not too bad if they last more than one cycle. Of course, I’m pretty worried he’s going to pull them off as soon as possible.
Levi also got rear shoes for the first time. I failed to get any pictures of this process. Although he doesn’t have sidebone in the hinds, he’s always had sensitive feet and he’s had a lot of bruising on his backs since we added fresh gravel to their pasture. This was Levi’s first time being hot shod and he could not have cared less. At least, not more than normal as he’s always a bit of a jerk about holding his back feet up. This horse might drive me insane for a lot of things, but he’s pretty freakin chill. Here he is watching all the loud power tools and not caring while the pasture horses behind the truck were snorting and whirling around.
Once we were done, I put his bell boots on and took him home – keeping the truck running until I had it parked again. I had to go to work and then dinner with friends after so I didn’t get to ride or even lunge him to see how he felt until the next day.
I always like learning new things – I probably annoy my farrier with all my questions – so I enjoyed seeing the Sneakers installed. I figured readers might enjoy learning more about them as well. I really hope they work for him and that they stay on. Not only does Levi like to step on himself, he also likes to stick his feet through corrals and paw backwards in a manner that is probably the most efficient way to remove a shoe outside of having farrier tools. If you have any tips for keeping shoes on, let me know.
Really interesting. My farrier carries a bunch of tools in the back of his truck- maybe even a drill press- I”ll have to check. I hope that these work out for him and he keeps them on. My only trick is the bell boots.
It’s a lot of extra stuff to have if you don’t do enough of these shoes to make it worth it.
Man those are some intense shoes! Here’s hoping they work great for Levi and that he can keep them on! Do you ever read Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog? She’s always posting about fascinating or unusual farriery practices and would probably be interested in this shoes too.
I actually hadn’t heard of that blog, but I’ll definitely add it to my list.
Canadians keep a hockey stick in the vehicle for tapping on the starter. 😉
That’s awesome! My truck’s starter is in a really annoying place; I’d have to crawl under it to reach it. Maybe a hockey stick would help.
That’s actually pretty reasonable for a re-useable shoe! I drop $65 in just the cost of silicone pour-ins for Archie every five weeks. I doubt my guy is familiar with these, since he’s never mentioned them before and if they’re good for sidebone, they might be good for ringbone. I’m interested to see how Levi likes them!
Apparently they are good for ringbone as well. I think I might add a pour in to these shoes next time though because it’s really hard to clean these out.
very cool I hope they stay on and i hope they help them PS get your truck fixed 🙂
It’s not like I don’t want to get the truck fixed. I just forget about it.
Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve had my share of weird shoes on my horses, but these are new to me. Rio wears flip flops, which are my favorite weird shoe so far as they can reuse them over and over. I think he only gets new ones twice a year.
My littler yellow horse also enjoys removing shoes and usually chunks of his foot along with them. He’s currently wearing glues ons which are stupid expensive and wear completely down each shoeing. To keep them on we’ve tried a few things. The best was putting one of those Woof medicine boots on and then a pair of bell boots. But he was going right through the med boots and they are $45 EACH (not pair) so we stopped doing that. Now he does a pair of rubber pull ons with the fabric bell boots over top. Like the sports medicine ones, but I think his are cheaper. (trainer gets them so I’m not positive on brand.)
I put the pull-ons first with the velcro ones on top. The fabric ones tend to get gross with how wet our horses get since they like to stand outside in the rain instead of inside their nice matted shelters.
Thanks so much for sharing this! Those are really fascinating shoes, and I really enjoyed reading about the process it takes for them. I really hope he’s feeling great today!
As for keeping shoes on, the only thing I can suggest is that when it was super wet and rainy in Texas for a while, Amber and 2 other mares kept losing their front shoes and/or chipping their feet something fierce so they were very tender. The farrier put on a shoe with only 1 nail on each side, then actually wrapped the hoof and the shoe in a cast. The cast hardened of course, and it kept the shoe on and allowed the horses’ feet to grow. Amber’s cast, however, only lasted a few weeks before she managed to tear it open. The other 2 lasted 6+ weeks.
I don’t want to do a cast, but I might add some glue next time.
Those are some pretty amazing shoes! I really enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading about the process.
My only tip for helping keep shoes on was to use bell boots that actually go all the way to the ground behind the heel. My horse had to wear reverse shoes up front to correct some angles, and it helped to have full coverage. I went up a size from what my horse normally wears, to allow for greater coverage.
I will keep my fingers crossed for you that Levi will keep on his fancy hi-tech shoes!
I was thinking about that when I put the boots on – that they don’t actually go all the way to the ground. The next size up is too wide around the fetlock (I tried them in the past), but that might be fine if it’s getting wrapped around the pull-on bell boot anyway so I might order another, larger pair.
I bet Levi is just plotting how he can operate the bandsaw himself next time.
He has a lot of plots running.
Impressive shoes and a lot of work to put them on. I’m glad your farrier knows how to do it. It looks like there are a lot of ways to mess them up if you don’t know what you are doing. I really hope they work for him.
My farrier was teaching his apprentices how to do these and he walked through a lot of the things you’ll see that show you the person who applied them didn’t know what they were doing. It does worry me for moving to the east coast.
These are really cool! Thanks for sharing, I’ve never seen these before!
I’d really only seen endurance horses with them and even in endurance the easyboots and regular shoes are much more common.
Hope those work for Levi! I tried everything to keep Val from pulling his shoes – good luck with that!
Levi was pretty good at keeping the natural balance shoes on, but these are so much bigger and he’s such a klutz.
Interesting! I use glue-on easyshoes instead of Sneakers, but they’re similar. However we cannot nail anything to T’s feet because he just doesn’t grow enough hoof between the 4 week resets. I hope Levi is more comfortable in them!
Oh jeez. I’m glad I don’t need to do 4 week resets. I’d probably do glue ons too if I had that issue. Levi doesn’t grow a lot of hoof (unlike Eugene) but he grows enough over 6-8 weeks that he can have shoes.
This is so interesting and the shoes look awesome! Let us know how he feels in them
I should have a post this weekend, but he feels good so far.
I will never not love Elliot ‘Frick!’ gifs.
Oh Levi, how did you ever handle yourself with these sensitive toesies in the wild? I really hope these shoes help him out. Good luck and look forward to the updates!
Luckily, for him, he was born in facility.
Those are some neat looking horse shoes! Glad levi was able to get them tacked on and I hope it helps him feel 100% better.
Ho-ly moly. What a PROCESS. But those shoes are so COOL. I’m pretty sure my farrier would hit me upside the head and shout “NO” in my face if I asked for those shoes. Your farrier is amazing!
I think most farriers just nope right out of doing these. But my farrier charges for time so he makes up for it and with all the tools it’s not as hard for him.