Introducing Daisy Bicking, "The Millenium Farrier"

Like many hoof care providers I know, I too got my start in hoof care because my own horse had hoof problems. In my case, I was dealing with a metabolic problem child who had laminitis and rotation of the coffin bone. A fantastic farrier put the rasp in my hand and empowered me to care for my own horse’s feet. She encouraged me to go out and conquer the often tumultuous world of hoof care knowledge. So my addiction was born: I AM a hoof educational junkie (say this 3x fast, it’s quite empowering).



After fixing my horse and by fixing I mean getting him back to his previous level of performance as my Dressage schoolmaster and winning multiple Championships at Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, I realized that everyone had or knew of someone who had a horse like him! I was passionate about helping these horses and began offering my knowledge to others.

In 2004 I founded Daisy Haven Farm, Inc. where we specialize in Hoof Rehabilitation using dry lots, specific diet balancing, and meticulous hoof care. I work with two other amazing hoof care providers, Terry Boswell and Molly Vlk, who work side by side with me on and off the farm. We specialize in solving horse’s hoof problems using barefoot methods and “Alternative Support Devices” which include hoof boots, hoof pads, composite shoes, hoof casts, etc.  

I was given the title "Millenium Farrier" by a group of great farriers due to my progressive thinking and use of glues and composite materials. I have respect for all aspects of hoof care, and have studied with a wide variety of practitioners in our industry. In order to navigate the wide variety of hoof care philosophies, available today, we are meticulous in digitital documentation of every horse we work on and have built a database of over 200,000 hoof pictures and radiographs. This has proven to be an invaluable resource of the hoof over time, and one which I hope to share with you here.

Glue Timing: Wrestling With Temperature Control

Glue work is messy!  It's fraught with opportunity to get glue on yourself, on the horse, and all over your clothes.  

Now let's make it even more complicated when we consider that glue is temperature sensitive.  It cures faster in when it's warm and slower when it's cold...which means we have to constantly adjust our working speed for a variable we cannot control, or completely predict: THE WEATHER.    

Here in the Northeast we are feeling the cold temperatures acutely given the most recently Blizzard Jonas that just dumped 30" of snow on us in 24 hours here in Pennsylvania!  

This has made me acutely aware of the difficulties of using glue in extreme temperatures.  Keep in mind I use primarily fast set acrylic glue: Equilox II, EasyShoeBond Fast Set, or Hoof Life Swift Set, etc.  I want to share with you the guide I use for applying EasyShoes with acrylic glue in different temperatures. Given the snow I see when I look outside, I'm going to focus on tips for heating the glue and shoe.  

There are various ways of heating glue in the cold weather.  In addition to keeping my glue in the house overnight so it doesn't get chilled, I use a heating pad, like you'd find at the pharmacy for your back, to heat my glue.  Depending on how cold it is, I would also keep the glue near the heat vents in my truck in between stops. And when it gets REALLY cold, I also use a heat gun to heat my shoe:  

And the heat gun to heat the foot:

And to heat the glue once the shoe is applied:

With the kind of horses I work on, holding the foot up when the glue is curing is critical to success, as is building height and mechanics with the glue and the shoe. So I tend to like my glue just starting to get thicker when I put the shoe on the foot.  

Here is a video of the difference in glue consistency.  The glue on the left is too thin unless you're doing a weight-bearing application.  The three glues on the right are too stiff and have set up too much to use to attach a shoe to a foot, but the glue in the middle, second from the left, got it...JUST RIGHT!


Here is a chart for how I break down my heating and cooling strategies by ambient temperature:

85-95°F and above: 

  • Consider slow set glue  -or-
  • Chill fast set glue with an ice pack in cooler or fridge


  • Keep glue out of sun
  • Fast set glue consider cooling with an ice pack in cooler or fridge


  • Put glue in sun to take any chill off


  • Heat glue in heating pad on LOW to take chill off


  • Heat glue in heating pad on MED-HIGH
  • May need heat gun on shoe once on the horse's foot.


  • Heat glue in heating pad on HIGH
  • Heat shoe before applying glue
  • WILL need heat gun on shoe once on the horse's foot
  • Consider heating the horse’s foot with heat gun right before application


  • Heat glue in heating pad on HIGH
  • Heat shoe before applying glue
  • WILL need heat gun on shoe once on the horse's foot
  • Heat the horse’s foot with heat gun right before application

25°F and below: 

  • Heat glue in heating pad on HIGH
  • WILL need heat gun on shoe once on horse's foot
  • WILL also need to heat shoe before glue application, and foot before applying shoe
  • May also need to keep packing, tips, and other supplies in a warm room especially at temps below 20°F
  • Consider heating work space with torpedo heaters, etc.  

This is based on a horse that stands well, working in a protected space without wind or direct sun, and your desire to have the glue set up as fast as possible, approximately two minutes.

Temperature ranges need to be adjusted for wind (down 10 degrees from ambient temperature) or working in direct sun (up 10 degrees from ambient temperature).   Of course direct sun out of the wind can also help you if it's a slightly chilly day!

You can also adjust this chart down 10°F if you want the glue to be more liquid when you apply your shoe to the foot like in a weight bearing application, or a horse who doesn't need so much height or mechanics built into the shoe.  

I hope this information helps you be more successful in getting your glue to behave in all sorts of weather!  With any questions or for information on glue and composite shoe hands-on clinics, please see:

Hoof Radiographs: They Give You X-Ray Vision Part 3

In Part 1 of this series on hoof radiographs, I discussed how to get accurately acquired and measurable radiographs for hoof care decisions. In Part 2 of the series, I discussed some things you can look at to get the most out of your accurately acquired hoof radiographs. In this last part of the series, I'm going to show you examples of how assessing the foot in front of you with the benefit of radiographs can greatly enhance your ability to help the horse.

This is a horse who was lame in both front feet with significant hoof capsule distortion when I was called in to help. There are several external characteristics we can use to identify the distortions in this capsule: the steep coronary band angle, shallow dorsal wall angle, under-run heels, pointy heel bulbs, etc all lead us to reliably conclude this is a long toe/low heel foot. Most of us would probably want to shorten the toe, develop heel height, and move the foot print back in some way shape or form. 

Here is the sole view of this foot. Note the location of the white line marked with the red dotted line. One trim option would be to bring in the length of this foot by applying a hard roll on the wall from heel to heel. That would certainly make this foot more compact and given the right diet, environment and exercise the feet would certainly improve.  

Another option would be to map the sole of this foot. Given the hoof guidelines I like to follow when trimming and shoeing, it would certainly give me more information about how I could get this foot back,but the 50/50 line is in the middle of the sole. We can see that this foot has a long toe, and maybe even a lot of toe, but can the map be right? 

A radiograph in this situation would give us valuable objective information about where the bones and soft tissue are located inside this distorted foot. The radiograph here confirms the long toe/low heels assessment and accuracy of the hoof map, but also gives us specific and measurable information about the foot we have to work with in front of us:

We all have different trim styles, and some of us like to do things faster or slower for the horse and the specific situation in front of us. Because of my experience with rehabilitation and specifically using radiographs as an objective reference, in most instances I like to gain as much ground in my rehabilitation each visit as possible. Given this horse's situation, and the information the radiographs gave me, here is what I did at the first trim:

I would not have done this aggressive of a trim without the radiograph to guide me.

Here is the lateral view, showing signifiant improvements to Hoof-Pastern Axis, Palmar P3 Angle, and the balance around the Center of Rotation being closer to my goal or 50/50. I would apply a hoof boot therapeutically or composite shoe to this foot during the rehabilitation process.  

Another example of how accurately aquired hoof radiographs, and specifically Dorso-Palmar (DP) radiographs, can help you in your decision-making for the foot in front of you is this foot here:

This horse was very lame with digital pulses in both front feet when I was called in to help. Externally he was lacking vertical depth, with low heel angle. What was also interesting about this horse is how crooked his leg and hoof capsule appeared. 

The lateral radiograph confirmed how little foot we really had to work with, which the horse's pain level and hoof inflammation was certainly telling us. What was also very interesting was the DP radiograph, since it also indicated significant medial lateral hoof imbalances that we could help this horse with at the time.   

This horse would definitely benefit from composite shoes like the EasyShoe, to facilitate building vertical depth until the horse can grow it. With the added information from the DP x-ray I would also look to build up the medial side of this foot in my shoe and glue. Without the radiograph we might not have been able to make as quantitative a balancing decision.  

Working with hoof radiographs can greatly increase your ability for accuracy and effectiveness for the horses you work on. I encourage you to request radiographs on your horses as much as possible. The information you gain is invaluable. For more information on using radiographs in your work, please see and

Hoof Radiographs: They Give You X-Ray Vision - Part Two

In my EasyCare blog last month I discussed how to get accurately acquired, measurable radiographs (X-rays). So now that you have your fabulous radiographs what do you do with them? Many veterinarians don't think to offer radiographs for hoof balancing to the farrier because they believe the farrier doesn't know what to do with them, and they might be right. You probably don't need radiographs for all of your horses, but you'd be surprised how much radiographs can help you be more effective for many of the feet you work on. Sometimes you just don't know what you don't know. Radiographs give you objective information about the relationship of the internal and external structures.  

Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your radiographs. Remember a radiograph takes a three-dimensional form and turns it into a two-dimensional image:

It's often helpful to have more than one view of the foot you're looking at in order to be able to orient yourself three-dimensionally especially for hoof balancing radiographs. As discussed in the previous blog, typically lateral and dorso-palmar (DP) radiographs are most helpful. Wrapping your brain around the three-dimensional anatomy and how it relates to a two-dimensional image can be tricky. With practice it gets easier, so look at lots of radiographs and ask lots of questions to those that know how to read them. Here is an explanation of some of the relative anatomy on those two views to help you orient yourself. Keep in mind the cadaver bones pictured are not from the radiographs next to them:  

In the lateral view, it's important to remember that you can only assess dorsal-palmar and distal-proximal balance, not medial-lateral balance. The medial-lateral dimension is flattened in the image.

In the DP view, it's important to remember that you can only assess medial-lateral and distal-proximal balance, not dorsal-palmar balance. The dorsal-palmar dimension is flattened in the image.  

My hoof balancing guidelines as I've described in previous blogs are based on four criteria as a starting point:  

Of course there are always exceptions to those guidelines due to movement considerations and needs of the individual animal. These hoof balancing guidelines are easy to assess in the radiograph and compare to the foot in front of you.  

For hoof balancing and shoe placement purposes there are many things you might look at on the x-ray in front of you. On the lateral radiograph I look at these parameters when judging how to trim and where I want to place any shoe I might be applying:

  • Palmar P3 Angle: Bottom of P3 in relation to the ground
  • P1/P2 Joint Angle, P2/P3 Joint Angle, and Dorsal Wall Deviation/Flare to judge capsular and phalangeal alignment.
  • Judging sole depth and corium location if you can see it helps keep you safe.
  • Palmar curve gives you some information about the potential for concavity for the foot, and helps me decide if a horse can be sound barefoot or might need a composite shoe.  

On the DP radiograph I consider the following parameters:

  • Comparing joint space from one side to another: is one side closer together than another?
  • Comparing the midline of each bone and the tilt of the joint compared to the plane of vascular channels of P3: while no horse is straight, the AVERAGE sum of those planes should be flat landing.
  • Compare the relative sole depth on each side of P3: this parameter can be problematic as the bottom of P3 can model.
  • Consider the location of the frog and central sulcus and shape and size of the collateral grooves, this can provide valuable information as to the yaw and roll of the limb. 

Whether you're the kind of person who likes to look at measurements, angles, and ratios or the kind of person who prefers a more organic assessment of symmetry and form, radiographs will do a lot to help you with your work. In Part Three of this series on radiographs, I will use a case study to demonstrate where radiographs gave me surprising, yet critical information which helped make the decisions to help the horse.

Hoof Radiographs: They Give You X-Ray Vision - Part One

There is so much about the foot we are expected to interpret from external landmarks: sole depth, toe length, heel height, position of the bones, soft tissue inside the capsule, and more! Most of us hoof care providers can get really close in our assessment of the feet we work on, however, we all have some percentage of our horses that we feel a little less certain about. It might be a horse with very distorted feet, or a specific pathology that muddies the waters a bit.  

In these cases, hoof radiographs (x-rays) can be quite enlightening. The information a well taken hoof radiograph can give you is tremendous, especially with pathology or severely distorted feet. Although I'm also surprised at how helpful radiographs of my healthier feet can be - just a slight adjustment made from seeing a radiograph can make a big difference to the horse.  

So what do you need to get good information out of radiographs to help you in your hoof care work? There are two main views that are most helpful to the hoof care provider:  

  • Lateral-Medial, from the side of the foot, also known as a Lateral Radiograph
  • Dorso-Palmar, from the front of the foot, also known as a DP or AP Radiograph


 Here are several key elements that will help you be successful assessing Lateral and DP radiographs for your hoof care work:

1. Be present when the radiographs are taken. You're going to want to ensure the radiographs are taken with technique that makes them accurate and usable for hoof assessment. If you cannot be present, you'll want to have a conversation with the veterinarian as to what you're looking for and how you want the foot marked or labeled.  

2. The horse's feet need to be picked out and wire brushed clean, including the hoof wall from ground surface to the coronary band, around the heels, into the collateral groves, central sulcus, and any other separations and pockets, for clear visibility of all structures in the radiograph. Many of the tips and tricks in my previous blog on taking hoof photographs also apply to taking good radiographs.

3. The horse needs to be standing on level ground, with cannon bones perpendicular to the ground, a leg at each corner. Both feet, whether front or hind, need to be on blocks of equal height, and the horse's head should be facing straight ahead. This prevents body positioning and weight bearing imbalances from skewing your radiographs.  

While good setup and technique for acquiring the radiographs is critical for any assessment of the horse's foot, it is equally important they are taken with a scale marker for calibration so physical measurements can be achieved that are accurate.  

There are several options for calibrating radiographs, three of which are shown here:  EPC Solutions Scale Marker, a wire on the dorsal wall of known length, and the Metron Imaging Blocks. Scale markers need to be in the "plane of interest" which would be the area of the subject that is most important to scale to.  In this case, that would be the mid-line of the limb.

There are also other markers that can be helpful like a thumb tack at the true frog apex, or at the widest part of the foot on the frog. Barium radio-opaque paste showing the true dorsal wall and heel on lateral radiographs is often helpful as well.  

Here are some examples of radiographs with common problems that make it challenging to assess hoof parameters. 

In this image, there are no scale markers, and the foot is not entirely included in the radiograph:

This radiograph is not a true lateral view, it was taken off-axis and without scale markers: 

Well taken hoof radiographs can be so helpful to the hoof care provider in providing accurate information for helping the horse. To appreciate how powerful this information can be, EPC Solutions, a leading innovator in Equine Podiatry Consulting, utilizes Equine Podiatry X-rays as an integral tool in their practice. They assess the distal limb and develop farrier plans that optimize recovery in cases with difficult hoof pathology. Here is what they have to say about taking hoof radiographs for the farrier:  

“There are significant differences between diagnostic radiograph views compared to podiatry views. Diagnostic radiographs are usually aimed at an angle to the sagittal plane, investigating into a joint or at oblique views to "see around the corner". They are shot with a harder exposure that burns out edge definition and soft tissue detail. Diagnostic views incur magnification and image distortion but are not usually an issue for intended purpose.  

For podiatry radiographs the x-ray beam should be aimed straight-on, perpendicular, to the distal limb and the crosshairs centered strategically at or near the bottom edge of the coffin bone. It is important to shoot the image with a level beam- running on a horizontal plane to the ground surface/palmar rim of the hoof. Generally, due to the height of the x-ray unit body, this is not possible unless we raise the hooves - typically placing them on wooden blocks to align the bottom of the coffin bone level to the height of the beam.  

Combined with a thorough understanding of hoof bio-mechanics, distal limb pathology, farriery, nutrition and body therapy support, podiatry x-rays provide very useful information for veterinarians and hoof care providers towards a complete distal limb solution."  

Here is an example of what good podiatry radiographs can do for you, as marked up by EPC Solutions. 

"Podiatry x-ray hard and soft tissue parameters provide useful insights into distal limb health and static balance. While externally this hoof may appear relatively healthy and even nicely aligned with hoof pastern axis, many internal data markers highlight the need to optimize the hoof balance and address possible underlying metabolic changes in the hoof before long-term pathology affects soundness levels". EPC Solutions

Ideally, we would all get baseline podiatry radiographs of our horse's feet for assessment once a year to have a greater chance of preventing lameness issues before they occur. However, even if you just get well-taken, measurable radiographs of your difficult cases, the horses will benefit immensely. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 next month, which will discuss how to read your accurately acquired, measurable radiographs.

On Cloud 9 About Easyboot Clouds

Doing hoof rehabilitation work every day, I'm always interested in anything that will help me keep the horses I work on more comfortable.  When I learned EasyCare was coming out with the Cloud I was hoping the boot would be a good option for my clients, and I have not been disappointed!  

There are many different uses we have found for the Cloud in our daily work, the most common are:

  1. Use on sore footed horses as daily protection as part of their hoof rehabilitation
  2. Applied to a support limb during trimming or shoeing to help keep the horse comfortable
  3. Protection for a bandage or wrap when treating an abscess or foot wound

I love the Easyboot Cloud for laminitic and foundered horses.  We now have the boots on many different horses for daily use as part of their hoof rehabilitation.   One of the most impressive is this DraftX mare:

​A boot has to be pretty substantial to hold up to a 1400 lbs chronically foundered DraftX.  Especially one with twisty feet like hers.  Here is her left front when we first met her:  

Booting this mare is really challenging.  Her conformation is quite twisty, and was compounded by foundering with medial sinking causing her foot to twist even more.  The Cloud boots turn toe-in to match her feet, however, they don't spin or twist beyond that.   

We also really like how easy the Cloud is to apply to sore footed horses.  Because the back of the boot folds down flat, the toe slides right in and the foot can be put down immediately to finish closing up the boot, minimizing the amount of time the horse has to be standing on one leg.  

In our humid environment, we like to apply Gold Bond powder to the inside of the boot to help prevent moisture from building up when the boots are worn by the horse 24/7.  This also prevents any fungus/bacteria from taking hold and keeps the feet hard and dry.  


The pad inside the boot has also been holding up beautifully even with the weight of this big mare.  They pads are compressing enough to conform to the shape of her foot, but don't over compress, which keep them squishy enough to provide continual comfort without over wear.  These pads have been in her boots that she has worn 24/7 for the past four weeks.  We have boots on many horses who have been in them for months and have yet to need to replace a pad.  

Another great use of the Cloud Boot is when we're pulling shoes and want to keep the horse as comfortable as possible, especially when the footing we're standing on is less than desirable for a newly barefoot horse, like this lumpy concrete:

Once the first shoe is pulled and foot trimmed, the Cloud is applied to help the horse stand for the second foot to be worked on without discomfort.  This helps the horse stand quietly without fussing or fighting to get off the weight bearing leg.  In the above scenario we could have just worked on the grass being softer than the concrete, but I wouldn't have good visibility of the foot making assessment more challenging.  Those of you who know my obsession with hoof documentation also know that taking photos in the grass is not a good way to get accurate images!  

In this photo the left foot with the Cloud boot on has already been trimmed, and the boot is facilitating our work on the right foot:

  This horse doesn't need Cloud Boots permanently, yet they were a big asset in working on the rocky concrete.

The Clouds are also a great tool when we have a horse with an acute abscess or hoof wound, and we need to protect the foot with a wrap for a period of time. We are able to apply the wrap and then put the boot over top.  The wrap can get changed as often as needed and the boot minimizes the amount of bandage materials necessary while also keeping the horse comfortable.

Not only are we keeping an inventory of Cloud Boots for sale, we're also keeping an inventory of boots of each size for RENT for those who need them short term. This is another valuable service we can offer our clients.  The EasyBoot Cloud has quickly become a valuable tool in our daily work!  I encourage you to find where they will help you in your work as well!  


DHF Addressing Hoof Distortion: Slippering Heels

There are many ideas surrounding how to address the back of the foot with our trim. Heels, bars, frog...some trimming techniques are more aggressive than others, recommending more or less removal of material.

I was taught a trimming technique to address distortion in the heels by Dr. Judith Shoemaker, a stellar veterinarian who practices complimentary medicine in Nottingham, PA. Heel slippering!

In trimming the heels, most methods recommend bringing the heels back to the widest part of the frog. Anytime the heels are brought back they are also lowered since the foot is a cone. In some situations, lowering the heel height is not desirable, especially if the horse is being kept barefoot and adding heel height back in is not an option with a prosthetic device. This is where heel slippering can be especially helpful!  

Here is an example of a horse who benefited from using heel slippering as part of his hoof rehabilitation.  He was experiencing heel pain, and also suffered from kissing spines. The owner asked if I'd help her horse become pasture sound, and through the process of rehabilitation and working with Dr Shoemaker, he became sound and could be ridden again! 

Here is his Right Front foot when I first started with him. The back of his foot at this time is quite distorted:

In applying my guidelines for hoof rehabilitation as I've discussed in previous blogs, I wanted to get his heels back, but couldn't without lowering his already too low palmar P3 angle. Heel slippering gives me a way to straighten the distortion in his heels without overly lowering the height.  

Here are the Right Front heels from our first trim to the third trim over a three month period of time using heel slippering as part of our trim protocol. Note the contracted under-run heels and uneven bars before, to straighter bars and wider heel and frog after those three trims:  


The radiographs and photos here are during that same three month period. Note the higher palmar P3 angle and increased angle of hoof growth coming in below the coronary band after three trims. At this point he is hardly finished his rehabilitation, but off to a good start! Heel slippering helped straighten the distortion in the heels while facilitating increasing his palmar P3 angle.

Here he is being ridden after hoof rehabilitation and complimentary therapies with Dr. Shoemaker:

Heel slippering works by removing the distorted heel and bar from the ground, without lowering the height of the heels overall. The heels can be mapped to determine what material needs to be relieved to straighten the affected tubules. Dr Shoemaker observed that each curled heel seems to have a stress line, a 'fulcrum' that occurs on the back of the heel, at the point of folding of the heel. In heels that are quite folded, there can even be more than one fulcrum line as well.  

The red arrows and the black sharpie lines mark where the fulcrum points are located on the heels of this different horse's distorted foot. This is the first time I worked on this horse:

In mapping for slippering heels I like to mark the fulcrum points first, then I draw a line from the end of the white line of the bar, at the bar swell, to the fulcrum point.  When you have multiple fulcrum points, you can use your discretion as to which fulcrum point you map based on how much of the turn of the heel you want to straighten:

The goal is to relieve the curled tubules from the ground so the new tubules will be stimulated to grow in a better direction. Similar to removing a flare so the new growth can come in straighter. The next step in mapping the heels is to draw a line from where the fulcrum point and bar line meet, down to the bottom of the collateral groove:
  Everything above the slipper line needs to be SAFELY and CAREFULLY removed from the ground as marked here:

Actually trimming the heel slipper can be done with a knife, rasp or nippers. The key is to have the transition between bar and heel smooth and on a flat plane (not scooped!) so the tubules are stimulated in a straighter direction:

Here is the medial heel on this Right Front foot slippered. Notice how the bar and heel tubules are much straighter, however, the overall heel height has not been lowered. 


The added benefit of this technique is when the foot fills with hoof pack, the heel support is now back at the widest part of the frog, without lowering the heel height, and therefor the palmar P3 angle.  

When I have a foot that has a good bit of distortion in the heels and bars, yet a low palmar P3 angle, heel slippering is a useful tool in my toolbox to address the distortion and yet avoid overly lowering the heel height in the process. For more information on heel slippering and other ways to identify and correct hoof capsule distortion, consider attending one of our hands-on hoof clinics. See our calendar for details on clinic dates:


Body Condition: It's a Weighty Question

As farriers, we are often asked general questions about the horses we see on a daily basis. What fly spray do we like, or what feed would we recommend? We also get questions about the horse's body condition and weight, which can be a very touchy subject. No one wants to hear their horse is obese. Because I deal with so many horses who founder from metabolic disease, I see many obese horses. If your horse is fat, I'm going to tell you he's fat, and expect you to help him lose weight. Tough love.

So how do you know if your horse is too fat, too thin, or just right?   

The Henneke Scoring System is a scientific method of evaluating a horse’s body condition regardless of breed, body type, sex or age. It was developed in 1983 by Don Henneke, PhD, during his graduate study at Texas A & M University. It is based on both visual appraisal and palpable fat cover of the six major points of the horse that are most responsive to changes in body fat.

The Henneke Chart is a standardized scoring system, whereas the terms, “skinny”, “thin”, “emaciated” or “fat” are all subjective terms that have different meanings to different people. It is widely used by law enforcement and is accepted in a court of law.

I think if we're honest with ourselves we tend to like our horses a bit rounder. Here is my horse right before he foundered and led me to become a farrier. I had no idea he was obese. He was in full dressage training, and I assumed he had a stocky build and good muscle. His Henneke Body Condition Score (BCS) here is actually an 8.  

I wish I had known at that time that one of the largest risk factors for laminitis is obesity. After my poor guy foundered due to insulin resistance, I worked diligently to get the weight off of him. After two years, his BCS had dropped to a 4 and once back into work he looked like this:

Would you guess this is the same horse? My horse was not stocky in the first photo. He was fat. 

Here he is two years later, finally well muscled again, this time with BSC 5:

Again looking like a very different horse. Be careful not to think your horse is "big boned" and in reality have an overweight animal. I learned a lot about my assumptions regarding body condition from using the Henneke Body Scoring System and objectively assessing his weight.  

Many times I see owners give up too early and get complacent with weight loss for their obese horses. This halflinger was on 24/7 turnout and the owner diligently muzzled her and dropped 150 lbs off her, even after dropping 150 pounds she still foundered. Amazingly, the owner was able to get another 150 lbs off of her to help her feet and control her insulin resistance by putting her on a dry lot.

In the first photo, she is about a 9 on the Body Condition Scale. After huge improvements in her weight in the second photo she's still about a 6-7 BCS. Finally in the third photo, she's a 5 BCS and her feet are stable. Note the cresty neck, fat pads over her shoulders, back, ribs and tail head finally disappearing in the last photo.

I often hear "Oh they've always had that crest, it won't go away". In my experience, it will if the metabolic condition is really controlled. Here is a horse we rehabilitated at Daisy Haven Farm after foundering due to Insulin Resistance. She was with me for four months. In that time, we worked diligently on her feet, while she lived in a dry lot with a controlled diet designed to help her get to an ideal weight. As you can see from the photos here, her body condition greatly improved, going from a BSC of 8 to BCS of 3.5-4 when she was ready to go home. She is now ready to get back into work and build back muscle.   

For more information about this horse and her feet, please see this article written on The Horse: Rehabilitating Horses with EMS-Associated Laminitis.

When observing body condition with the Henneke Scale, it is recommended to use your hands and with firm pressure investigate all 6 points on the horse's body. Here is an example of a horse who has his ribs showing but actually quite obese. Note the cresty neck, fat behind his shoulder and withers, and at his tail head. Do not be complacent in helping a horse like this lose weight. The visible ribs yet having prominent fat pads actually makes this horse a higher risk for laminitis than a horse who is generally obese with fat evenly distributed over the entire body.

We see thin horses and we think the horse is being neglected or abused. In my mind, obese horses are also neglected or even abused, admittedly often due to lack of knowledge. We are literally "killing them with kindness". Please objectively assess your horse's body condition on a regular basis. Keeping your horse about a BCS of 5 on the Henneke scale is one of the most important factors in preventing metabolic laminitis.  

For more information about Daisy and the work we do at Daisy Haven Farm, Inc. please see and

EasyShoes To Help Foundered Horses: Daisy Haven Farm Style

Helping foundered horses is my passion. Of course I love helping ALL horses. Foundered horses just hit close to home. It was my own horse foundering and the wonderful farrier who helped me with him that brought me to hoof care. 

I am able to help many foundered horses barefoot, especially with the temporary use of therapeutic boots. When a foundered horse needs protection with a boot long term, however, I prefer to apply glue on composite shoes, like the EasyShoe Performance and Performance N/G.  

Here is a case study where the horse was doing very well in therapeutic boots, but for several reasons, we felt the horse would benefit from shoes.

Mia is a very sweet Rocky Mountain Horse who has a history of chronic laminitis. Mia came to Daisy Haven Farm at the end of February for more intensive rehabilitation.   

When Mia arrived at Daisy Haven Farm, our veterinarian came out to see her and we reviewed her history. He made some modifications to her meds, and pulled blood to check her metabolic status. She was very painful even on bute, rocking back to take weight off her front feet, with strong digital pulses. Here are what her front feet looked like at that time:

Externally, Mia's feet didn't look terrible but she was so painful I knew internally she was having bigger problems.  The radiographs confirmed what her pain level indicated:

If you are familiar with my previous blogs, like this one here, I have four criteria that I aim for when rehabilitating the foot. Of course they are guidelines, and not rules, but are the foundation I work to build for each horse to establish Static Balance. Here they are in summary:

-50/50 ratio of toe to heel support around the center of rotation of the hoof capsule

-3-8 degree palmar P3 angle

-Minimal flare and distortion in the hoof capsule

-Capsular Alignment and Phalangeal Alignment (straight Hoof Pastern Axis)

In Mia's situation, while her hoof capsule was only minimally distorted, her foot print was slightly forward, her palmar P3 angle too steep, as well as having Capsular and Phalangeal misalignment. After applying my initial trim, here is what I was able to gain for Mia:

While we had significant improvements in our goals for static balance, I was disappointed that the phalangeal alignment (hoof pastern axis, ie HPA) wasn't straighter after the trim especially on the left front foot, even though I had lowered the heel as proactively as possible:

My experience is usually the HPA straightens out very quickly. I had to be satisfied this was the best we could achieve today. The damage to her feet was quite extensive with significant bruising in her laminar wedge:

Mia quickly became more comfortable and bute was eliminated. After three months despite the improvement to her comfort level, Mia wasn't quite ready to go without protection, and we started thinking about shoes instead of boots:

1. EasyShoes provide additional opportunity to create mechanics for Mia's feet than we have in boots. 

2. Mia's activity level has increased significantly as she was feeling better, and therefore less risk of tossing a shoe than a boot when she kicks up her heels.

3. As we started thinking about Mia going home, her owner suffers from significant arthritis in her hands, and expressed a preference to have shoes instead of boots if it wasn't detrimental to Mia.  

This past week we applied the EasyShoe Performance to Mia's front feet after her trim. I am very happy with the results. While we were able to achieve our static balance goals in the right front foot very quickly, the left front had proven difficult to get the HPA realigned. With the addition of the EasyShoe Performance, the HPA improved even further, which will help develop the healthiest hoof capsule possible for Mia. 

The two biggest considerations for Mia when going from therapeutic boots to EasyShoes was:

1. Initially I thought she'd fit well in an EasyShoe Performance size one, but didn't like how it made her footprint bigger overall.  I like to avoid additional leverage on the laminae when a foundered horse is healing. By going to the size zero, we were able to keep the footprint smaller which reduces leverage. Here is how the size zero shoe fit without the glue:

While the wings of the shoe gap a bit, the fit was much better overall.  

2. We also added a spacer in the back of the shoe to help with fit and stabilize the key hole in the shoe. I find caudal support extremely helpful in rehabilitating the foundered foot.  Here is a photo comparing the size one EasyShoe Performance on the left and the size zero EasyShoe Performance with a 10 mm spacer on the right. Notice how the size zero is just a little bit smaller overall. We like to glue our spacers in with Gorilla Gel Super Glue*, then screw in for stability.  

3. Finally we finished the bottom of the shoe by easing the heel landing, and rolling the toe to create a ball bearing effect for Mia.  

Mia's feet have improved tremendously since arrival at Daisy Haven Farm. I am excited to be able to send her home, healthier, happier, and with the help of her owner and veterinarian continuing her rehabilitation going forward.


For more information please see:

* Editor's note: EasyCare does not sell Gorilla Gel Super Glue.

CFGP: Certification Opportunity for Glue Practitioners

Every day I approach the horses I work on with enthusiasm. I love what I do. I love helping horses and I love the materials I am able to help them with: glue and composite shoes. I am excited to be able to share with you my experience earning a farrier certification with a well respected organization based on these progressive materials. The Equine Lameness Prevention Organization CFGP: Certified Farrier Glue Practitioner. 

I first became aware of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization (ELPO) about six years ago at the International Hoof Care Summit. They are a fabulous organization made up of some of the most generous, open minded, and thoughtful people I know. Their mission statement is:  "Helping People Help Horses" which shines through in all of their actions and endeavors. The organization offers educational courses, certifications, support to their members and the community, and performs research about all hoofed animals. 

Years ago I was intrigued by the programs and certifications offered through the ELPO. I wanted to learn more, especially about the techniques they were using to address lameness issues, many of which use materials right up my alley: composite shoes of all kinds, clogs, plastics, glue. I was also interested in the certification programs that were available. Only one dilemma: at the time I wasn't using metal shoes in my hoof care work, and in order to earn credentials working with lameness, I needed to pass the basic farrier exam which was done with metal shoes.  

My career as a farrier has always followed a non-traditional path. First barefoot trimming, then growing in my education and skills, I recognized a need for support devices beyond boots. I dove into alternative materials: composite shoes, casts, and glue.  

I have a specialized skill set I can offer the horse with the tools I use, and am very busy just doing that, so chose not to expand my education into metal at that time.  

Years passed, and each Hoof Summit I'd talk to the ELPO members at their booth. In 2012, we decided to offer an ELPO hoof mapping and trimming course on the East Coast at Daisy Haven Farm in PA taught by ELPO President Steve Foxworth and fellow Instructor Jen Reid. It was a great time, and all 20 participants learned a lot.

The following year, in 2013, the ELPO again traveled to Daisy Haven Farm in PA, this time to offer a Level 1 and 2 Certification. Through diligent testing on assessing the horse, hoof mapping and trimming, 15 of the 16 test takers passed their exams, and created additional momentum for further educational opportunities with ELPO for those of us using primarily glue and composite materials as farriers. 

Then in June of 2014, I was invited to the ELPO Level 3 Farrier Certification Course in Penrose, CO. The ELPO leadership had decided to add to the existing structure of the Level 3 Farrier Certification by adding a glue and composite material option within the criteria for certifying. This course was specifically planned to sort out the testing criteria for glue and plastic.

Six years after I initially approached ELPO my dream was coming true. Many of the Level 5 Instructor/Examiners were present for the course. I gave a lecture and demonstration on glue and composite materials to the group, and the appropriate modifications to the Level 3 test were discussed amongst the Level 5 attendees. It was important the the core of the test was consistent between materials, metal and composite, and any changes made were only due to the differences specific to each. Very few modifications to the existing test were necessary, for example, foot preparation and finish for glue was added, and nailing made optional, although if you do nail on your test the same criteria as nailing for the metal test still applies.

At the end of the weekend I took my Level 3 exam. I was assigned a horse for my test in glue/composites out of many that were trailered in for glue work that day.

The other attendees began working on horses and practicing their glue work, except for one, the amazing farrier David Nicholls from West Sussex in the United Kingdom who was to examine me on my test. No pressure!  

After taking the written exam, my practical test took four hours. I assessed the horse, I mapped and trimmed the horse's feet, and glued EasyShoes on all four following the ELPO protocol to the best of my ability. It was a marathon of meticulous focus. I was aiming to demonstrate that I could successfully apply these principles with my glue and composite materials; the opinion I had expressed six years ago.  

I passed with flying colors and earned the first CFGP: Certified Farrier GLUE Practitioner. 

This landmark weekend has now paved the path for others to take the exam and earn this certification in glue and composites. I am grateful for the ELPO's forward thinking mindset, and demonstrated support for those that work in these materials. 

Since earning my CFGP, I have now also earned the CLS, Certified Lameness Specialist, and am working on completing the Level 5 CE/CI, Instructor/Examiner certification as well as completing the Level 3 Farrier Certification in metal.

I am truly grateful for the learning opportunities I have had because of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization. I encourage you to take advantage of the progressive view of the organization, as I have. 

For more information about the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization, upcoming courses, and CFGP Certification, please see:

Got Maggots? Maggot Debridement Therapy Daisy Haven Farm Style

One of the most unusual yet incredibly interesting tools I use in my work with foundered horses is Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT).

In 2005 I attended the Laminitis Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida and listened to Dr. Scott Morrison present on using Maggot Debridement Therapy to treat infections in the horse's foot.  This is an article published by Fran Jurga in Hoofcare and Lameness Magazine Issue No. 78 on Dr. Morrison's work:

One of the most devastating complications of laminitis is hoof infection.  Due to the amount of necrotic tissue in the foot and damage to the circulation, a horse with laminitis can develop a foot infection which can be very hard to fight off.  Infections like those pictured here can be very common:

There are many different approaches to working on resolving these infections between the farrier and veterinarian:  drawing poultices and soaks, antibiotics, debridement of infected tissue, anti-microbial hoof soaks, and topical cleaning materials are commonly used with varying degree of success.

In 2005 when I listened to Dr. Morrison I was dealing with a chronically foundered horse who had a hoof infection that was difficult for me and the veterinarian to resolve.  I was intrigued by the idea of using maggots to debride the infected tissue.  I spoke with my veterinarian who was in favor of the idea and contacted Dr. Morrison who walked me through the application process.  I quickly realized I was going to need to be creative in my application as typical methods involved a metal shoe with a hospital plate which was not desirable in this case.  Working with Dr. Morrison and the lab who cultivates the maggots for medical use, Monarch Labs in Irvine CA, I figured out a protocol that would work without a hospital plate.  Here are the supplies needed:

  • Maggots from Monarch Labs: prescription from a veterinarian required
  • Creature Comforts Chiffon Gauze: also from Monarch Labs, contains the maggots in the area, yet is breathable for the maggots
  • Elasticon: to keep the Chiffon Gauze in place
  • Composite bar shoe or other protection: designed to keep the horse from crushing the maggots when the foot is weight bearing 
  • Disposable Diaper: to absorb the maggots exudate so they don't drown
  • Vet Wrap: to hold diaper in place
  • Duct Tape or Hoof Boot: to protect the bandage

Since 2005 I have used Maggot Debridement Therapy, in conjunction with other supportive therapies and veterinarian guidance, on over 100 hooves with tremendous success in resolving chronic hoof infection in the laminitic horse.  In 2011 I won an award for a Scientific Poster I presented at the Laminitis Conference on my method of application, which is inexpensive and can be applied at home by the farrier, veterinarian or even horse owner successfully.  My message was that MDT can be affordable, easy, and should be more accessible for treatment of chronic infections for the laminitic horse.  

The idea of maggots eating away at the foot may really turn you off.  If so, I understand.  Keep in mind these maggots are specifically designed to only eat necrotic tissue, not live healthy tissue.  They are also sterile, so they will not reproduce.  Their saliva and exudate further break down infection, and the maggots stimulate new cells to grow and keritanize, which is critical to healing.  They are amazing critters!  I admit I have a bit of a love affair with them, at least when intentionally put in the foot for therapeutic purpose.

Here are some examples of horses I've helped using MDT and what to expect:

This QH mare was chronically foundered for years with a horrible foot infection.  The current vet and farrier felt she should be euthanized, however the idea of Maggot Debridement Therapy gave us another tool to give her a chance.  Here is her foot when I first met her:

With any therapy, success is largely dependent on managing the multitude of factors impacting the given situation.  In this horse's case, we had a lot of room for improvement with the trim alone.   We trimmed her to the protocols I've mentioned in pervious blogs like this one here, and also worked with the veterinarian to rule out any metabolic or other underlying issues.  

Just trimming alone wasn't enough to resolve the infection, so MDT was applied:

After two courses of MDT she was much more comfortable and the infection had resolved:

Her foot after corrective trimming and MDT:

Here is another example of a badly foundered horse with a chronic foot infection.  I typically see quick resolution of the infection and growth of new keritanized sole using MDT:

Recently I've been privileged to help a wonderful horse named Maeve, a 28-year-old TB mare who developed laminitis with sinking of P3 in the hoof capsule on her left front foot.  When I first saw her she had active drainage at the coronary band, and from her sole:

After initial evaluation and discussion with the veterinarian and owner, the coronary band pinching was relieved with grooving, and the sole was carefully debrided to allow access for MDT.  Initial debridement for MDT, first photo, and further debridement for second course of MDT, second photo:

Maggots mature around 3-7 days and grow to approximately 1cm in size.  They start with a black dot on their head, and grow a brown stripe down their back.  When the stripe reaches their tail they are mature.  Their instincts cue them to seek ground to turn into flies and they will stop eating, so can be removed.  

Maeve's sole after the second course of MDT, looking much more keritanized and infected material much more localized:

Everything is drying up and keritanizing well.  This progress was made in about 2 weeks time.  We just applied one more course of MDT to help resolve the last bit of infection:

I feel very fortunate to have a tool like Maggot Debridement Therapy to help resolve chronic foot infections for laminitic horses.  I hope you will consider using MDT when dealing with a horse with a chronic hoof infection, or bring the idea up to your farrier or veterinarian if your own horse is dealing with this issue!  

If you would like more information on my method of application, or a copy of the Scientific Poster "Easy Application of Maggot Debridement Therapy To Treat Chronic Abscesses in Laminitic Horses" please contact me.