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How 3D Printing Saved a Horse’s Life


In a previous issue, we reported a story of a horse racing team in Australia that used 3D printed titanium horseshoes to make their horse go faster.  Now, the Brisbane Times has uncovered its sequel. 

Luke Wells-Smith, a horse vet and farrier with the Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre in New South Wales (Australia), saw the story and contacted the horse racing team to see if the horseshoe could be helpful for a horse with laminitis.  “Also known as founder, laminitis can be crippling and sometimes result in permanent lameness or euthanasia for the horse.  The disease, which causes inflammation of the tissue attaching the foot bone to the hoof, can be managed in a variety of ways but has no actual cure.”

Holly, the horse in question, “has suffered from laminitis for the last three years.  [However] since being fitted with the new [3D printed] titanium shoes by Dr. Wells-Smith, she appeared to show an immediate improvement and has been seen trotting around the paddock.” 

Dr. Wells-Smith claims 3D printing technology “offered a significant advantage in making the shoe highly specialized…After assessing how Holly walked and then taking X-rays of her feet, Dr. Wells-Smith could determine the exact type of shoe that would benefit her and design a shoe that fit.”

The doctor explained: “in the case of Holly, we actually put a curve to the bottom of the shoe so the horse can rock forward and change the angle of its foot to suit how comfortable it is.  So it’s kind of like a self-adjusting orthotic for the horse.”    

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of the Brisbane Times     

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