American Hoof Association Webinar: Dental Health and Lameness Prevention

The American Hoof Association approaches equine care with a whole-horse approach. On Sunday, March 19th, expand your knowledge on how oral dynamics affect the well-being of an equine specifically relating to hoof care with Wendy Bryant, who received her education from the renowned Spencer LaFlure, Founder of Natural Balance Dentistry. Both stress the importance of equine dental health and symmetry because of it's bio-mechanical effects of the entire horse.

"Did you know that a dental malocclusion can affect the way a horse stands or moves? If the way a horse stands or moves has been compromised it will affect the way they wear their feet! Maybe you are fighting a stubborn crack or a flare that could find its genesis in dental imbalances." - Ruthie Thompson-Klein, AHA Education Committee. Learn more and sign up today!

American Hoof Association Webinar: Dental Health and Lameness Prevention

The American Hoof Association approaches equine care with a whole-horse approach. On Sunday, March 19th, expand your knowledge on how oral dynamics affect the well-being of an equine specifically relating to hoof care with Wendy Bryant and Spencer LaFlure. Both stress the importance of equine dental health and symmetry because of it's bio-mechanical effects of the entire horse. 

 

"Did you know that a dental malocclusion can affect the way a horse stands or moves? If the way a horse stands or moves has been compromised it will affect the way they wear their feet! Maybe you are fighting a stubborn crack or a flare that could find its genesis in dental imbalances." - Ruthie Thompson-Klein, AHA Education Committee. Learn more and sign up today!

Winter Ice Studs for the Easyboot Therapy Line-Up

Submitted by Mariah Reeves, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

EasyCare offers several products that can be used for assisting the healing process of several hoof-related conditions. The winter endorses situations that can make treatment all the more challenging. As ice season approaches, the use of studs in therapeutic hoof boots is in demand. Before drilling into your boots at the first sign of slick, it’s important to know which therapy boots are compatible with which ice studs that EasyCare offers.

EasyCare Quick Studs and EasyCare Original Ice Studs.

The Easyboot Rx, a go-to therapy boot, is suggested for stall use or very small turn out only. The boot is designed to be lightweight and breathable, which means it is not built to withstand large turnout conditions. If studs are necessary for the environment in which your horse wears the Rx, both the EasyCare Original Studs and the EasyCare Quick Studs may be used. However, it is important to monitor the Original Ice Studs as there is a small chance that the stud may migrate proximally within the boot. This could cause pressure to the sole if it goes unnoticed. Precautionary tip: The Rx boots include a 6mm Comfort Pad; after installing the studs, it’s a good idea to replace the Comfort Pad back into the boot to serve as a safeguard between the stud and the sole of the hoof. Sizes 00-4 take the 3/4" Original Ice Studs and size 5 and up take the 1" Original Ice Studs.

The Easyboot Transition, Easyboot Cloud, and Easyboot Rx.

The Easyboot Transition bridges the gap between a therapy boot and a pleasure riding boot. It offers durability that can hold up for light riding and a dual density sole that provides shock absorption and cushioning qualities. Because the Easyboot Transition presents a dual density sole, it is not recommended to use a stud that compromises it. Only the EasyCare Quick Studs are suggested for this particular boot style.

The Easyboot Cloud is the latest and greatest therapy hoof boot on the market. The Cloud is robust, yet comfortable and supportive. The Cloud Pad material compresses like memory foam and is designed to compress in a proportional relationship to the weight of the horse. The durability of the Easyboot Cloud allows the EasyCare Original Ice Studs or the EasyCare Quick Studs. Cloud sizes up to size 4 utilize the 3/4" Original Ice Studs. Sizes 5 and up take 1" Original Ice Studs. As a reminder, the Cloud is not intended to be used for riding purposes.

The Easyboot Zip and EasySoaker are not recommended for use with studs. For permanent traction, support and protection, check out Daisy's blog, "Have Ice, EasyShoes with Studs!".

Photo credit: Hank Blum

Using boots through the melting season will offer reassurance that your horse has adequate traction and support over the hard ground. Boots will eliminate balling up of snow in the sole and provide cushion until the Spring returns. Contact EasyCare to further discuss the best hoof boot option for your and your horse’s needs. 

Setting Your Therapy Boots Up for Extended Wear

Submitted by Jean Welch, Hoof Care Practitioner

As a Hoofcare Practitioner, I take great pride in knowing that I help provide comfort to horses on a daily basis. Most of us HCP's have horses of our own, and we have first- hand experience when it comes to successful booting techniques.
This has been a banner year for laminitic symptoms, and I’d like to share a few tips that will help extend the wear time for therapeutic boots such as the Easyboot Cloud and the Easyboot RX.

Maintaining comfortable booted hooves for extended wear (two to four days max. in dry conditions) is easier if you invest in a second set of boots so they can be rotated. They don’t have to be the same kind, as long as they fit well and offer comfort and support, and are appropriate for the task. This, along with diligent cleaning habits of both horse and equipment is a recipe for success. While one set of boots is being worn, the other set is cleaned and staged, ready for the next booting. To clean the boots simply drop them in a bucket of water with a few drops of mild detergent. Let them soak a while, then use a soft brush to scrub them out. Rinse and squeeze out as much water as possible, then hang to dry (not in direct sunlight).

Keeping the hooves dry and clean for extended boot wear is easier if you use liberal amounts of a medicated powder such as Gold Bond or a generic equivalent.  I also like to line the boot with an absorbent adult pad such as the Walgreens brand “Certainty”.

These pads are long, thick and absorbent. They are great for drawing out and locking away excess moisture from the frog area. I use them whole so that it cradles the pastern and heel bulbs.

Before.

After three days.

Depending on the boot style I’m using, sometimes I cut them into thirds, so I can get three hoof boot liners out of one pad.

The pad does not have to cover the entire sole to be effective. As long as it is centered under the frog,  it will work well. ​

The adhesive strip on the back secures the pad very nicely to the inside bottom of the boot. Remove only 1/3 of the adhesive backing so it only sticks to the comfort pad.

I stick the absorbent pad only to the comfort pad so that the rest of it cradle the heel bulbs, allowing it to move with the pastern, and provides extra cushioning and protection. Again here, I use powder to reduce friction and to keep things clean and dry. Be sure to clean the hoof,  hairline and pastern thoroughly with a soft brush before each booting.

No rubs aftwer 4 days.

No rubs even after 3 days.

There are lots different booting techniques out there. I hope this method offers some relief for your unique situation. 

February 2017 Newsletter: New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare

In this month's newsletter:

  • New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare 

  • Positive Changes

  • Freedom Movement

  • Best Practice: What Glue Work Works?

​READ MORE HERE...

At Least Once

Yes, I truly believe that each Hoof Care Professional should attend the yearly International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio at least one time in their life. It is an event packed to the brim with lectures and seminars. Organized by the AFJ, this year attendance was in the thousands. Farriers from all over the world attended and it is a great opportunity to meet them and exchange experiences. 

EasyCare Inc and Polyflex Horseshoes had partnered up and shared a booth side by side at the Summit. Great experience to work with Curtis Burns, in my opinion, the most experienced and best Hoof Care Professional in terms of gluing synthetic and polyurethane horse shoes.

EasyCare and Polyflex booth at the trade show.

 The Bootmeister explaining the advantages of the EasyCare products to visitors from all over the world.

Curtis Burns demonstrated quarter crack repair in front of many trade show attendees. 

Garrett Ford had some airline problems, so unfortunately he did not make it to the Trade Show. Some of the newest products developed by EasyCare, and meant to be showcased in Cincinnati, also fell victim to flight cancellations. Therefore the EasyCare Booth did not have all the new products at hand. Nevertheless, we had some of the newest and exciting EasyCare products on display and in cooperation with Curtis, I made it a go.

One of my all time favorite boots, the EasyBoot Flip-Flop, on display on the blacksmith buddy.

A joint production with Polyflex Horseshoes, the EasyShoe Flex is scheduled to get released onto the market in March. Watch this video here that explains the benefits of the Flex. The EasyShoe Flex will first be released in four sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. With a springsteel core, this shoe will flex just about like a hoof, like nature intended. The Flex is meant to be nailed on. Options are a dorsal clip or side clips. Another option is open heel or closed heel for frog support. Garrett Ford talked a little bit more about this in last weeks blog.

Not only was the Trade show a huge success with products on display from companies all over the world, the lecture series was filled with capable and iconic speakers like Mike Wildenstein, Simon Curtis, Dave Farley and my all time favorite: Brian Hampson. Brian has done extensive research on the Australian Brumbies and the Mongolian Takh horses like no other scientist in the world. His research has influenced the way we are looking and judging horse hooves in recent times. 

In Brian's lectures, you can learn a lot about the wild horses of the world. For example, did you know that 46% of all wild horses with hooves that we often consider ideal suffer from laminitis?

Photo from Brian Hampson's lecture. 

Looking at these hooves of wild mustangs in the image below, one might think of these being the ideal hooves everybody is striving to achieve.

What Brian Hampson found out in his numerous studies puts a damper on this illusion: these hooves might look appealing from the outside, yet inside these hooves have the highest percentage of pathologies. Specifically founder, laminitis, white line disease, navicular etc.

In the slide below, Brian is detailing the percentages of the pathologies found in his studies of the wild horse hooves in Australia:

Compare the wild horse hooves in the image above to this one below, taken from a horse in a wetter environment and representing hooves we see more commonly among our domesticated herds:

On first sight, we all would probably agree that this hoof is somewhat neglected and unhealthy. 

Yet, when checking more closely with digital radiology, nuclear scintigraphy and ultrasound the inside of hooves looking like this, one is astonished to find out that these hooves were among the healthiest in Hampson's studies. So the first impression is not telling us the whole truth or might actually totally fool us. Take home message is that the external looks of a hoof will not allow us to draw conclusions and pass judgement on how "healthy" the actual hoof, its internal structures and the digit inside really are. Interesting, isn't it? It sure taught me a lesson. That is the kind of invaluable stuff you learn at the Summit.

The learning experience all around was just amazing and, quite frankly, there is no better way to learn about Hoof Care, the newest scientific findings, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones but by attending the "Summit". See you there next year!

 

From the desk of The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare

I was recently looking at the last seven years of statistics from the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race.  Although I'm a big believer in hoof protection products that give the hoof the ability to move as nature intended it's nice to see real numbers from the most difficult and demanding horse event in the world that support my beliefs. Results for the Tevis Cup show that EasyCare's products not only work but they outperform other types of hoof protection.  

Here are some interesting numbers from the last seven years of the Tevis Cup.   

1.  53.07% of starting riders finished the event, 61.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event, 50.36% of starting riders not using Easyboots finished the event. In 2011, 75.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event!

2.  6 of the last 7 Haggin Cup (Best Condition) winners used Easyboots.

3.  5 of the last 7 Tevis Cup (race winner) winners used Easyboots.

4.  In 2016 the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers used Easyboots.  

2016 Haggin Cup Winners.  Lisa Ford and GE Cyclone.

I'm not a statistician but those numbers tell me that flexible, urethane hoof protection excels at the most demanding 100 mile horse race in the world.  You are more likely to finish if your horse starts in Easyboots, you are more likely to win the Haggin Cup and you and more likely to win the Tevis Cup if your horse is fitted with Easyboots.  Yes, there are many that still want to argue that hoof boots don't work, are a fad, are for tree huggers, etc. but just looking at numbers from the last seven years, it's a hard argument to win.

So what's next?  We believe in our products, we believe we have a nice range that covers many types of disciplines and EasyCare can accommodate Mini horses up to some of the smaller draft breeds.  Although we are happy with our line there is always room for new products that can help horses, are easier to apply or are more economical. Below is a short list of what we have in the works and some quick thoughts on each.

1.  EasyShoe Flex.  A flexible steel core over molded in urethane.  Intended to be nailed on the hoof.  Yes, many people do not like nails but at the same time complain of the costs associated with glue.  We believe this shoe will be a healthier alternative to many of the nail-on products in the market.  Open heel, full heel with frog support and different clip options.  The open ended nailing slots are very unique and make the product much easier to apply.  Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the EasyShoe Flex.  

EasyShoe Flex Ground Surface.

2.  Easyboot Slipper, Easyboot Love Child or BFM.  A cross between the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and the EasyShoe Performance.  It allows more movement in the heels than the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and is easier than the EasyShoe Performance to apply.  In the future we plan to integrate a gaiter on this shell. Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the product.  In 48 hours we received 200+ applications to help test the new design.  

Easyboot Slipper/Love Child/BMF

3.  Easyboot Sneaker.  A new multidimensional boot for riding, turnout and therapy.  The boot has a unique strap system that hugs the heel bulbs and prevents boot rotation when tightened.  The sole is a rubber/urethane blend and is more flexible than a total urethane product.  We will be looking for riders to help test this product in a new BETA release program.  More information to follow.

4.  The Old Mac's G2 is back.  We have brought back the G2 for 2017.  In addition we are testing a wide version that is wider than long. 

Old Mac's G2 Wide in testing.

5.  Easyboot Fly.  Features a shell that accepts three different gaiter types.  The design allows for adjustment in length, heel height and allows for heel pivot.  It's testing well and we will be reaching out to include testers soon.  

Easyboot Fly from the back.

We look forward to getting these products tested and to market.  In the near future we will be reaching out to horse owners, vets and hoof care professionals that would like to be involved in BETA releases and product testing.

We are excited about these products and feel they work in conjunction with the "Smart Structure" of the hoof.  What product do you believe will be the most helpful in the horse industry?

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

Freedom Movement

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

Someone recently asked me how to convince their clients to schedule their horse(s) on a shorter trim cycle. One of my clients had this horse's leg bone and I haven't been able to get the shape and function of the fetlock joint out of my head. Talk about no margin of error. There is no room for error. Trimming  is meant to be done daily in nature. Horse's feet grow 1/16th of an inch every four to five days (3/8" - 1/2" per month). If they are naturally a little crooked due to conformation flaws (which every horse has to some degree)  then the longer their walls get, and the more crooked the foot gets. Their feet are their foundation. If they are crooked the horse must compensate in their body. This is typically where leg, shoulder, neck, back, hip, hock, stifle, knee and jaw pain comes from. The horse is a living kinetic structure. Any imbalance in any joint affects every other joint. 
 
I think the biggest thing that is overlooked in horse's hooves is how much the horse is affected by minute imbalances in the hoof. Here is an example: take a four foot builders level. Fix it vertically to the jamb of a door. Check it for plumb. The bubble should be centered between the lines at the center of the level. Slide a penny between the bottom of the level and the floor, on the jamb side of the level. You should notice the top of the level come away from the jamb about an inch and half. 

A penny is about 1/16 of an inch thick. That's how much the hoof walls grow in about five days. If the leg of a horse isn't plumb then one side of the hoof gets longer than the other from lack of wear. The weight of the horse gets distributed more to the short side of the hoof. The longer this condition persists the more the short side of the hoof gets excessive wear and crushed, the more crushing, the less circulation, the less circulation the less growth, etc. Horses can compensate for years, silently, until their lameness becomes obvious. Most often this appears as a "mystery" lameness or gets diagnosed as a neurological issue, or even disease. The cure is the same as the prevention; keep the heels level, don't just eye ball it. Use a gauge. Remember that a 1/16 inch off at the ground equals an inch and a half at the shoulder. This is pretty significant to the horse when they are trying to keep 300 lbs (per leg) balanced four feet above a four inch diameter circle. Problems are compounded with the addition of a rider.

The cadaver leg in the photo below is crooked and shows uneven wear.  The live foot is properly balanced. 

Horses feet can't be left to go to hell for several weeks and then brought back for a few days. They're designed to be perfectly balanced, always.
People still don't want to admit that this is supposed to be done daily by nature. Domesticated horses rely on humans for this and the real problem is that too many people set trim schedules according to their pocket book instead of the rate of growth, or empathy for the horse. 

Positive Changes

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo, Wild Hearts Hoof Care

I was recently asked by EasyCare to write up a few words about our trimming theory and approach. This always ends up being quite difficult to be succinct with, as there are so many ways depending on the horse. But, at our foundation we believe that the hoof is a highly adaptable “smart structure” as said by Dr. Taylor of Auburn University. The hoof is capable of positive change given the opportunity with supportive trims, diet and lifestyle. We have seen it over and over and over again in our hoof care practice.

This left front hoof made the visual changes above, as well as an internal coffin bone angle change from negative to positive angles (-2.45 degrees to positive 3.25 degrees) in 6 months

We have found that if you help the hoof a little bit with your trim, by setting it up to grow better between cycles, making sure the horse is comfortable to move properly with minimal or no compensative movement, and then get out of their way, they can develop a pretty awesome hoof. It may not be the picture in some people’s mind of The Perfect Hoof, but it can be a pretty awesome, functional, sound and improving hoof for that horse.

This right hind hoof made a positive change (literally) to the angle of his coffin bone, which we can see by observing the angle of the hoof wall and the hairline. In the October image, the hairline is much steeper, the heel is lower and forward and the dorsal wall is bulging in a bull nosed shape. By January, his hairline is more shallow and relaxed down, the heel is in a more supportive position under the bulbs and his dorsal wall is straight. (Please note that this was not straightened with the hoof buffer, which we used to only very lightly scuff the walls.) 

 The yellow and green line overlays were copied and pasted unchanged from each of the images to show the shape changes that took place over 11 weeks.

The owner may have to make some changes for the horse’s sake, and in fact, it is pretty much guaranteed.Often this involves things like changing the footing in the horse’s pen to be cleaner or more dry, perhaps treating for thrush, changing from sweet feeds to a lower carb vitamin/mineral supplement and almost always learning how and when to use hoof boots

It also often involves educating owners as to what a healthy hoof looks like. When an owner learns to recognize signs of hoof distortion they can, for the rest of their horse owning life, step in and know when to make necessary changes before things get too out of whack.    

You could say that the frog’s change in width, in this right hind hoof, over 11 weeks was simply due to a style change of trimming less from the sides, but how to explain the change in the heel bulb shape? This cannot be cut to shape, the horse makes this change.  

We tell our clients that it takes around eight months to one year to grow a whole new hoof. Some horses need to grow two or more hoof cycles to really develop into more like what we like to see, but I think it is important to be aware that the horse, and his feet, are always in motion. They are always growing, and they can be growing for the better every moment. Sometimes we are gifted with quick visual changes, the heels open up, or maybe the wall quality improves right away.  But even if we don’t see huge changes externally, we can know that the horse is moving better, perhaps a longer stride, more confident loading their heels. This tells us that internally, things are improving, realigning, developing and strengthening.

Finally, we feel strongly that you need to look holistically at the situation. The horse’s feet may be better aligned with some modifications to their trim, and that is wonderful, but that’s not all. That change then impacts the way he stands and moves, which impacts the angles of his joints and the way he uses his soft tissues.  It is a whole horse change.

Left front, 11 weeks between images.

What does your horse have going on that could be improved upon?  Could he benefit from a change?  How much more could you see from your beloved partner in terms of comfort and performance? 

Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.

 

Frog Talk, Part II

In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:

- Crooked frogs

- Frog pathologies/diseases

- Treatment options

Crooked frogs:

This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.

Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while. 

In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.  

This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip. 

What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side. 

The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule. 

Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.

This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.

Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct. 

Frog pathologies and diseases:

We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way. 

This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.

After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.

On this frog tell tale signs:

Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation. 

Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.

Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing. 

Treatment Options:

There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc.  Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though,  to treat thrush with liquids. 

A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:

-  Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands

- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.

(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)

   

Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.

Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out. 

Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read. 

After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS. 

 

This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.

Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:

  • Nutrition (up to par)
  • Strong immune system
  • Proper footing/stratum
  • Movement and plenty turnout
  • Barefoot as much as possible.

But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?

 

From the desk of the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center