The Ins and Outs of Pads

Posted on 10th September 2019 by Josh Millar

Its eventing season and the ground can get hard and the events are coming thick and fast. I find prevention is better than cure and being proactive pays dividends in the long run when it comes to your horse’s shoeing and their soundness.

There are lots of options when it comes to choosing pads and packing materials and there are many reasons why you might choose to use them. In this blog I’m going to focus on pads and packing specifically for event horses.

Another issue to take into consideration is that all pads can make the horse slip when going cross country, so it’s important to balance the need for pads against the job the horse is required to do

It’s important to remember that pads and packing will only help improve or maintain the horse’s performance, alongside good, regular shoeing. All to often I will see horses with every possible add on option but the foot balance is completely wrong, making everything else redundant.

Why do we use pads?
1. Maximise the horses performance
2. Minimise concussion
3. Protection

Packing material

You must be conscious that most of these pads and packing combinations create an anaerobic environment that bacteria will thrive in, so not advisable for use in certain situations.

Example case study.

Eventer (Irish Sports Horse), competing at Intermediate Level


My Assessment

Static – feet look good, no risen clenches. Solar view shows lack of depth, (the view from) some exfoliating sole but not much. Good medial lateral balance. Dorsal Palmer balance also looks good.

So far all is as I’d expect for an event horse that is on a 4-5 weeks shoeing cycle.

Dynamic – horse walks well, lands almost perfectly level just catching on the outside but very minimal. In trot the horse is largely the same, if anything it lands more level than in walk.

So far, the only indication I have that there is a problem is from talking to the rider. Communication with the rider is key to identifying issues. Make sure you speak up!  My suspicion is that the horse is suffering with some caudal hoof pain.

Shoeing – For this horse, I would look to provide some solar protection (protection over the sole) and increase the surface area in the back half of the hoof capsule. This will create a secondary cushioning and shock absorbing effect which will limit the impact through the hoof capsule, which in turn will help protect the horse from any pain from concussion he is getting.

I would use Equi-pak pour in pads in medium density. Event horses work in all conditions so I would also use copper sulphate to help minimise the chance of anaerobic bacteria getting a foothold.

Post Shoeing

Moving forward, I’d expect an almost instant change in the manner of the horse when it goes cross country. Communication with the rider is key as they will know how the horse feels and the level of improvement in its way of going.

Check out the photos of the various pads and packing materials. Also a very interesting photo of an Equi-pak pad that I’ve removed after the shoeing cycle, it has completely mirrored the shape of the frog, you’ll also notice its slightly thicker at the back half of the foot than the front, this is also deliberate. By doing so I’ve maximised the surface area in the back half of the foot, but the kept some verticals depth at the toe for some traction.

I hope you’ve managed to follow this blog and can take something from it. Please remember shoeing is subjective and farriers all have different preferred methods!

Any questions you may have please drop me a comment and I will do my best to answer them.

Josh Millar

Posted by Josh Millar


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