Hospital Treatment Plates


Hospital treatment plates are useful to protect the bottom of the foot while still leaving the foot accessible in order to apply medicine. Left: Ground surface of hospital plate made out of plastic; Right: Foot surface of hospital plate made out of aluminum.

Hospital treatment plates are used when the bottom of the foot must be protected from bacterial infection, but also accessible in order to clean the bottom of the foot on a regular basis. Treatment plates are useful for situations like: exposed abscesses, canker, thrush or sole perforation caused by founder.

Studs can be used in place of bolts in order to increase traction for the horse

Unlike pads that are fixed between the foot and shoe, hospital plates are set between the shoe and the ground. The benefit is that the treatment plate can be removed without displacing the therapeutic shoe that is set on the foot. The disadvantage is that they will considerably reduce traction for the horse. They are impractical for horses that work, because they are slick. Most horses that need a hospital plate will likely be prescribed rest as well so this may not be a factor. For horses that have minor conditions (like thrush) and must continue work in spite of the hospital plate, the situation can be improved by using thin plastic pads instead of aluminum or steel. Also studs or borium-coated bolts will significantly improve traction for these horses.

Nuts can be welded to the inside web of the shoe instead of drilling and tapping holes in the shoe.

Traditionally, hospital plates have been made by drilling and tapping holes in a shoe so that bolts could be screwed into the shoe to adhere the plate to the shoe. Anyone who has prepared holes with a tap and die set, knows that this can be difficult and frustrating when drill bits break. Combined drill bit and tap sets that drill holes and tap them at the same time, have made this a little bit easier. Another way to prepare a shoe for a hospital plate is by welding nuts to the inside web of the shaped shoe. This eliminates the need for the tap and die set but requires the use of a welder. The number of bolts to attach the plate to the shoe may vary by hospital plate design.

Treatment plates can be made out 1/8” to 3/16” thick aluminum or plastic. After cutting and sizing the plate, lay the shoe over the plate and mark it through the holes. Drill holes in the plate. Screw the plate on tight and grind the ends of the projecting bolts level with the seated out foot surface of the shoe. Remove the plate to nail on the shoe. After you clinch the nails, bolt the plate into position. Instruct the caretaker of the horse to remove the plate and change the medicated dressing daily. This will give the horse the best chance of recovery.


Hospital treatment plate applied to a horse with canker. The plate was easily removed in order to clean and apply fresh medicine. Then the plate was securely fastened again. The back of the plate was bent up to prevent dirt and manure from contaminating the healing wound.

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