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Tips to Apply a Rockered (Banana) Shoe

Written October 2005 by R.F. (Ric) Redden, DVM

The rockered shoe is designed to enhance breakover. Square-toe shoes and other shoes that sit back under the ground surface of the natural toe also enhance breakover. But you must remember that "enhanced breakover" is a relative term. It is "enhanced" in comparison to what?

When you square or rocker the toe of a flat shoe, the palmar angle remains the same when the foot is loaded. The breakover is enhanced but only relative to the distance that the breakover was reduced. This enhancement is only effective when the horse moves and has little to no mechanical advantage when the horse is standing still. This is fine if you don't need 24-hour mechanical enhancement.

If you wish to greatly enhance the healing environment of the foot by establishing a self-adjusting palmar angle, you need a much more advantageous shoe. To obtain the shoe with the mechanics you desire, use this simple grading scale. For every 2 degrees of palmar angle you want your shoe to provide, score it 1 point. For example, 12 degrees of palmar angle would be a 6-point shoe (see radiograph below). Informative radiographs are essential to accurately assess the start model palmar angle, in addition to confirming the mechanics you need to score your shoe.

6 Point Shoe
12 degrees = 6 point shoe

I am often asked, "Does a farrier need an x-ray of every foot when he/she applies a rockered shoe?"

The answer to this question depends on the goals of the client. Some may want to simply take a shortcut and apply the shoe with no blueprint. With no specific plan, the results you want are left to chance. When put in perspective, x-rays are relatively inexpensive in relation to the information they provide the vet/farrier team.

Farriers that work with lame horses need to learn how to read informative, farrier-friendly radiographs. This will allow them to fine tune their skills when trimming the foot, designing and fabricating the shoe, and placing the shoe on the foot. Routinely reviewing pre- and post-shoeing film on pathological cases greatly enhances the chance for success. The more film a farrier reads, the more his/her eye for detail grows. The foot should reflect the radiograph, and the radiograph should reflect the foot. However, the finest details will be missed, even on a farrier's best day, without informative radiographs.