What Happens When an Abscess Goes Untreated

By Nancy Frishkorn BA, CHCP (reposted from
 
If you own horses, chances are good that at some point either you or someone you know spent many hours tending to an abscess. An abscess is collection of pus in an area of the body (in this case the hoof capsule) that causes severe pain and swelling due to the body’s immune system’s attempt to fight off the infection. This pus is actually excess white blood cells and tissue (living and dead), fluid, bacteria and other foreign substances. The white cells are the body’s natural defense to infection that release destructive components after identifying and binding with bacteria. Their purpose is to “kill” the harmful bacteria, but in the process healthy tissues are also damaged. In the hoof, this damage most often occurs in the laminae and bony structure within; in other words, if not treated, the coffin bone itself begins to degenerate and weaken, causing small pieces to break away. As part of the inflammation response, more white cells are sent to the site to remove the damaged tissue (the clean-up crew) which actually creates even more inflammation and subsequently more pain. The pieces of broken and damaged tissue are not distinguished by the body and the natural immune system subsequently treats them as foreign objects; hence, the system treats the bone pieces as “foreign objects” - these are what are known as sequestrum.
 
This is the story of Colt, a beautiful gelding purchased by Carla (Pittsburgh Pet Connections CEO) who had poor hoof care before she found him. There are some individuals who believe the hooves can go months without trimming, and others who feel they can trim themselves despite the fact that they have had no training or poor training at best. Colt was one such victim of circumstance, and he came into Carla’s love and devotion in need of immediate attention. His hooves were long and imbalanced, and after two trims he was still experiencing intermittent lameness. Local vets were called and his abscessing was opened, but they continued to fester despite many hours of soaking, draining and treatments with drawing salve. After seeing no improvement, it was decided he needed to seek clinical attention for a second opinion and x-rays. 
 
Colt was sent to Fox Run Equine Center where Dr. Brian Burks DVM diagnosed a lateral sequestrum on Colt’s left front hoof. This first picture shows Colt’s tract on film; you can see some lines coming from the side of the hoof draining down by the back of the heel. 
 
 
This is the site that had been opened from the outside bar (hoof wall beside the frog) but never drained out completely. Inside, there is a piece of broken bone that was damaged due the accumulation of pus for a long period of time. Dr. Burks used a dremel tool to drill a small hole into the quarter (side of the hoof wall) to remove this sequestrum. The second picture shows the piece of bone being removed and just how small the piece of bone was; its removal was imperative for Colt’s recovery.
 
 
The third picture is a shot of this same area after surgery, the quarter area grew out within three months with daily packing with betadine and Sliver Sulfadiazine.  
 
 
Before the surgery, Dr. Burks scraped out all the hard laminae from the bottom of the hoof to ensure there would be no residual bacteria’s invading the capsule that could potentially cause reinfection of the hoof. His intuitions served him well when it was discovered that the very tip of P3 (coffin bone) was extremely brittle. He concluded that this was damaged a long time ago from old abscessing that had caused this area to weaken and nearly break away. By making another “window” in the hoof wall, Dr. Burks was able to preserve most of the wall structure and remove this weakened area as well. He commented to me that the tip “fell away” when he merely touched it with his forceps, so it too was removed and needed packing until it grew out. This fourth picture shows the actual procedure during surgery when the forceps were inserted into the toe wall to remove the sequestrum. 
 
 
I’ve worked with many vets over the years, but I’ve never met one quite as thorough and open minded as Dr. Burks. The traditional protocol for any respective procedure is hospital plates (wide aluminum shoes) that stay on for many months to support the hoof during healing. Because Burks took such care to make minimally invasive openings for removal, Colt was left with adequate hoof wall for support. Carla was adamant in keeping Colt as natural as possible, meaning she wanted him to remain barefoot, and he respected her wishes. I was called to meet with Burks about follow up hoof care and we mutually agreed he could remain in a hoof boot that would not only support his hoof, but also provide better coverage for the opened areas that needed daily treatments. This last picture shows Colt’s open toe area five days after surgery when he was taken out of wraps and placed in a hoof boot. 
 
 
Treating a hoof injury is difficult on the owner as well as the horse. Carla was going to need a boot that would not only cover the entire hoof wall, but also one that could be easily removed and strong enough to withstand several months of continuous wear. Colt was rather stubborn about lifting the hoof for his daily treatment, so ease of application was an absolute necessity. I am familiar with several boots, but the best choice for this situation called for durability, full support and easy removal as well so that no further damage would occur. I could think of only one boot that would serve her purpose, and one that she would be able to keep for years to come in case she ever needed them again - the Easyboot Rx
 
From March to mid-May Colt wore his boots day and night. He was sound at a walk almost immediately after the surgery and because he had a boot he was able to get turnout in the arena and a small paddock every day. We actually booted both front hooves to make sure he wasn’t off balance on the front and this kept him sound while simultaneously avoiding any shoulder pressure or further injury. Carla made sure that his hooves were kept as dry as possible to avoid any rubbing due to excess moisture or sweat by removing them daily for treatments and drying the back of the hoof before replacing it. This movement helped facilitate the healing process and by the end of May the entire wall had grown out completely with no further problems. Within a month Colt was even able to do short rides wearing hoof boots and today he is doing very well. He has not had an abscess in nearly a year and his soles are tough because he has relocated to a facility that enables full turnout and natural wear. Carla has since purchased a pair of Easyboot Trail boots for long rides, and we are grateful to not only EasyCare for their supreme products, but also to Dr. Burks for his open-minded approach to natural horse keeping. Thanks to Carla, Colt has a wonderful life and his hoof issues are no longer…he is happy, healthy, and sound. 
 
- Nancy Frishkorn BA, CHCP

 

Easyboots Battle White Line Disease with DE Hoof Taps. To Tap or not to Tap?

By Rachel Braverman of Polyflex Horseshoes

Shod, glued, booted or barefoot it’s no wonder that our horses end up with some form of compromised hooves when we consider the elements they’re exposed to. Climate extremes, bacteria, abrasive surfaces and athletic demands all influence the health of our horses’ feet - and for many of us the frustration of addressing hoof wall separations, excessive wear and the challenges that stem from them can seem never ending. Just as one problem seems to disappear - another arrives unannounced.

The good news? The answer may be as simple as tapping your feet.

Named after its inventor and longtime farrier Doug Ehrmann, DE Hoof Taps are a product that offers an entirely new approach to hoof care.

DE Hoof Taps in hoof

DE Hoof Taps were inserted to assist this horse with wall separations.

Created because of his need for a real solution, Doug explains “Up where I shoe, inclement weather and abrasive surfaces like stone dust arenas are commonplace. So many horses were having chronic issues with excessive wear, wall separations and overall loss of hoof integrity. I remember thinking to myself - I have to find a better way to help.”

So after years of research, field trials and evolutionary stages Ehrmann formally introduced DE Hoof Taps to the market in 2018 and since then has produced noticeable and exciting results for the future of farriery.

A zinc coated steel tap measuring approximately 1.25 inches in length, DE Hoof Taps are inserted into the foot just outside of the white line. Left in for the duration of the shoeing cycle, DE Hoof Taps are most commonly used under traditional shoes. However, great success has also been seen utilizing the taps under glue on synthetics, in booted horses and the barefoot horse. “I designed them to be versatile,” Ehrmann clarifies, “horses of all disciplines and shoeing methods can at some point face the challenges these taps are meant to combat. That’s why it was so important for me to create a product that could be used as an accessory for any horse.”

DE Hoof Taps with Easyboot Epic

DE Hoof Taps can be a great option for booted or barefoot horses suffering from brittle hooves and wall separations. This horse is shown prepped to ride in an Easyboot Epic. 

This versatility is just one feature that’s made DE Hoof Taps a popular choice among industry professionals. Farriers are reporting significantly tighter white lines, healed wall separations and a marked decrease in excessive wear. Simply visit the DE Hoof Taps Facebook page and a plethora of before and after case studies illuminates the screen. While Doug is no newcomer to product innovation, his ultimate standard remains the same. “If I’m going to bring an idea of mine to fruition - it needs to be a product that I reach for and that I use on a daily basis without having to think about because it works. The DE Hoof Tap has become exactly that product for me.” Based on growing product demands, it’s obvious these taps are quickly becoming a go to product for farriers across the U.S.

While the positive feedback and documentation has been consistent - the inevitable question comes up.

How exactly do DE Hoof Taps work?

The answer, is that the answer is still evolving. What we do know for certain is that the zinc coating plays a major role. On a chemical level, zinc is said to attract existing bacteria and repel new bacteria. Ehrmann’s hypothesis is that if the tap is inserted into a compromised foot, then the zinc coating will draw the bacteria towards itself. In turn, it’s believed that the zinc aids in rerouting the bacteria from traveling up the tubules of the hoof wall. As a bonus the steel makeup of the tap aids in reduction of wear on the hoof.

“We’re continually discovering more about how they work,” Ehrmann admits, “but the exciting part is that we’ve seen over and over again the positive impact they make on horses feet. They produce results too good to ignore.”

Mechanically speaking, Ehrmann designed the taps to mimic the natural curvature of the white line and to remain within the foot at a shallow depth. While the taps are not intended to be shaped, they can be easily modified to match the needs of the foot.

Some examples include shortening the taps to be placed in smaller, more specific locations, inserting the taps at the toe and in the heels. “In some cases you may only choose to use part of a tap, while in others you may decide to use multiple. The decision is ultimately up to the discretion and knowledge of the farrier using them,” Ehrmann explains. He continues “The more skilled you are as a farrier the more you’ll be able to utilize the potential of these taps to their full extent.”

To remove, easily pull or trim the taps out at the end of the horses shoeing cycle. The uncomplicated process just makes taps that much more appealing. However, it’s important to understand that the DE Hoof Tap is not a DIY product.

While the simplicity of the DE Hoof Tap makes it a natural addition to any farrier’s shoeing box, Ehrmann cautions that taps should only be inserted by a hoof care professional. “This product is simple to use, and that’s one of the best parts about it - but it still needs to be respected as a tool. If you think your horse could be a good candidate, have the discussion with your farrier. He or she will be able to place the tap where and how it will benefit your horse the most.”

Designed with the good of the horse in mind, it’s exciting to consider what the future holds for the DE Hoof Tap. Many believe this product could be the representative product of a new generation of hoof care technology to come. It certainly defines out of the box thinking - and offers a new platform from which to approach hoof care. Not to mention it offers a creative addition to any farrier’s toolbox.

But if there is one thing we can count on, it’s for Doug Ehrmann to keep innovating.  So long as there is a horse in need, whether shod, glued, booted or barefoot they will now have the opportunity to tap their feet.

- Rachel Braverman
PolyFlex Horseshoes

Looking Beyond Frequent Hoof Trimming as the Magic Fix for Hoof Rehab

By Hoof Care Practitioner David Landreville of Landreville Hoof Care

If you’re struggling with hoof issues, don't fool yourself into thinking that merely trimming more frequently is going to be a magic fix. There’s always a learning curve and there are often kinks in that curve.   

The key to lameness prevention, rehabilitation, and continued development is keeping the outer wall off of the ground.

To accomplish this, I believe that optimum weight bearing is when the inner wall is loaded at the Four Pillars. I don’t try to make it happen in one trim. It’s built over years of frequent trims. After trimming to the inside of the inner wall, it takes three weeks for the inside of the outer wall to make it to the ground (with this kind of trim), which is why I try to keep them on no more than a 3-week trim schedule. The second and third weeks are the optimum comfort weeks for the horse. The inner wall, through its attachment to the sole, is set up to support the weight of the horse. The strength of the outer wall is not in its ability to support the weight of the horse, but in its ability to contort while simultaneously resisting the forces of contortion. 

Frequency is only part of the equation.

The trim has to unload the outer wall and put the majority of the horse's weight bearing comfortably on the back of the feet. Correct weight bearing and movement is what heals feet. The trim just sets the horse up for healing.  1/16" of vertical error at the ground equates to 2 inches of horizontal displacement at the wither on an average size horse. 

Too much weight bearing on the forehand causes excessive toe loading.

When the lateral heel on a left front foot is continually being left 1/8" longer than the medial heel it causes the horse to shift their weight 4" to the right. This places the right front 4" closer to the midline of the horse. This results in the majority of the horse's forehand weight being supported by the right front.  Most horses are already too much on their forehand due to the lack of knowledge about the relationship between proper heel shape and caudal soft tissue development.  A horse that has natural downhill conformation and who is also naturally right forelimb dominant can be a disaster in the making. The right front becomes the crutch for the horse, resulting in mechanical founder in the right front. The symptom may be wall separation and/or sole penetration but the cause is 1/8" margin of error in the trim. This is not a disease; it’s a breakdown in the mechanical bond from excessive force. Keeping the horse properly squared up over their heels is how you fix them. 

Example of improper trimming for founder.

When you're rehabbing founder, you're essentially taking the horse back in time through all the phases of their foundering. Helping a horse get comfortable is only the beginning of restoring them to a point where continual development is sustainable. 

This is the right front foot of a right hand dominant horse that foundered due to improper trimming.  These photos show 7 months of progress to reverse the damage.

Photo of improper trimming for founder

This is a caudal view of the same horse. 

Don’t rely on frequent trimming as the magic fix.

Trimming more often may just create a disaster – faster. I’ve found that a good trimmer/owner team is central to the horse’s successful rehab. Choose a trimmer who not only knows how to fix a hoof problem, but who does meticulously correct work and who also knows how to prevent it in the first place. How do you find out? Ask lots of questions! (Tip: Do they have horses of their own with structurally sound bare feet that they’ve been riding for years?)

And finally, be upfront how an issue will be handled. The trimmer should have a couple back up plans and the owner should be clear about how willing they are to go the distance if plan A doesn't work out.

 

- David Landreville

www.landrevillehoofcare.com

Shoeing The Hoof Or Shoeing The Horse?

By Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center

Horses hooves do have "big shoes to fill," pun intended. Not so much because of previous great shoeing experiences but more so because of their responsibility to carry a heavy body through life's travels. Whether it's just hanging out as a backyard horse, competing on the track, dressage, versatility, trail riding, endurance racing or competing on demanding 100 mile races like Big Horn, Old Dominion, Biltmore or Tevis.

GE Blizzard of Oz, wearing the new EasyShoe Flex during the Old Pueblo Ride in Arizona, finishing in First Place and winning Best Condition

When talking about shoeing or booting horses, are we shoeing a hoof or are we shoeing the horse? Now, what does that question entail? In the definition of a farrier's job description, he or she is engaging in 'horse shoeing.' Nobody refers to a farrier as a 'hoof shoer.' For the sake of an argument, let's look at the term 'hoof shoeing' first.

Shoeing a hoof means that we are looking specifically at a hoof, trimming it according to our parameters and then booting or shoeing that particular hoof. We might be looking at live sole, medial and lateral balance, point of rotation and midpoint balance. We are evaluating and trimming and shoeing a hoof!

When trimming and shoeing a horse, I follow an holistic approach to hoof care. First I evaluate the conformation and posture of the horse, then I consider the weight and the alignment.

As an example of how we trim and shoe to provide support for the whole horse, not just a single hoof, we'll look at the horse below.

This image shows an untrimmed hoof. We can observe that the hoof is pretty symmetrical in appearance from the dorsal view point. If we draw a red line through the center of the fetlock we can see that both halves of the hoof are equal in width.

Here's a similar observation on a horse with a trimmed hoof.

In both cases the horse's body is supported by the hoof. The whole hoof is equally loaded and receiving equal ground pressure.

In the next case, however, the hoof cannot fulfill its job of properly supporting the horses weight. The plum line drawn from the center of the canon bone does not divide the hoof capsule in equal halves. Notice how it's offset to one side. The lateral half of this front right hoof is quite a bit wider compared to the medial half. (Blue horizontal line vs green line.)

My next question is how can I mitigate that conformation fault and center that hoof better under his leg? For starters, when trimming, I'll rasp the lateral wall a little more and the medial wall somewhat less, to try and move the hoof more underneath the bone column. 

Look at the two blue vertical guide lines coming up from the supporting area of the sole. The leg is now more centered over the sole. I shifted the support area medially.

When shoeing or applying hoof protection to this hoof EasyCare provides the tools to center the hoofs ground bearing surface even more under the leg. The new EasyShoe Flex is the perfect shoe to help horses with asymmetrical hooves.

Here's how the Flex can be used to help center the hoof under the limb.

In this photo, I moved the Flex more to the medial side (see the red arrow), to center the bone column over the supporting surface.

The weight baring surface of the Flex is now centered under the red plum line, and both lateral and medial (yellow lines), are equidistant between the two blue vertical guide lines again. 

The protruding edge, red arrow, can easily get beveled off so a horse would be less likely to step on it and pull the shoe off.

With a grinder or even a rasp the shoe can get easily modified. The spring steel insert can also get rasped without any problems. 

Stay tuned, because I'll be sharing more information on the Flex. You'll learn how easy it is to nail on the Flex, get some DOs and DONT's, and see my test results on their performance during long and hard endurance races up to 100 miles in length. I'll also be including the Flex Light, the version without the spring steel core.

In the photo below, the Flex Light, in a size 3, is shown on top. It comes with the heart bar for frog support. Below the Light is the Flex Open Heel with spring steel core, also in a size 3. The steel inside gives it enough rigidity so that a heart bar isn't necessary. It's also available in a heart bar version.

The Flex is opening a lot of new doors for the riders, farriers and trimmers alike. 

From the Bootmeister
Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com

5 Reasons Why the Easyboot Glove Soft is Outperforming Expectations

By Garrett Ford, President of EasyCare Inc.

The Glove Soft has been a challenge to keep in stock!

The Easyboot Glove Soft was added into the EasyCare line up of hoof boots in early 2018.  It's been selling very well and exceeding our forecasts.  Several sizes have sold out and we are working hard to get more in stock for the busy summer months.  

The Glove history goes back to 2009 with the launch of the Easyboot Glove. We've made a number of improvements over the years, and while people have been very happy with it, the rubber gaiter on the 2016 model makes it a bit more challenging to install. This feedback, along with other comments from our valued customers, resulted in the design and launch of the Glove Soft. 

The Glove line has always been a favorite. You can see why in the video below. It shows the original Glove in action during a very difficult 50-mile race. Even in terrible, muddy conditions down slipper terrain, the boots stayed on with no problems. Notice the Glove's low profile and snug fit that allows the horse to be the athlete it is. The horse went on to finish 1st and receive Best Condition. (If you watch the video to the end, you'll notice I took a tumble, but kept on filming!)

 

Here's a quick list of what we were trying to achieve with the Easyboot Glove Soft and the reasons horse owners like the boot so much.  

1.  The Easyboot Glove line is the closest fitting hoof boot line. It doesn't add bulk and width to the hoof, allowing the horse to be athletic and nimble.  

2.  The ability to fold the gaiter back all the way. This achieves a very easy installation of the hoof boot. When the gaiter is folded backward it's quick and easy to slip over a hoof and get a tight fit.  The gaiter is then rotated up and fits around the pastern.  

3.  Wider hook and loop make for a better hold and closure. We have beefed up the hoof and loop for a more secure fit. Now it's 1.5 inches wide.  

4.  Longer straps allow the boot to fit more pastern circumferences.   The overlap system and longer straps allow the gaiter to fit both large bone and finer bone pasterns.  

5.  The Glove Soft comes in both regular and wide sizes.  The range has 20 different sizes to fit most horses.

We appreciate your feedback on the Glove line and are excited that the Easyboot Glove Soft is part of our 2018 product range.  We are working hard to prevent back orders, so please be patient.

Enjoy your summer riding.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.

 

 

The EasyShoe Flex is shipping now. What do you need to know?

The EasyShoe Flex horse shoe line is finally here! In the warehouse and shipping now.  

Curtis Burns and I have worked many hours on this shoe and are very happy with the final result. It has a long wearing, shock absorbing urethane tread with a flexible spring steel core. Both Curtis and I believe the EasyShoe Flex line will help many horses and fills a niche in the industry. Another arrow in the quiver. 

What's different about this urethane shoe? 

The biggest challenge with other urethane shoes is stability. Urethane shoes without an internal nail plate have a tendency to both "cup" and have nail clinches loosen with time. Adding a solid steel core solves the nail issue but does not allow hoof mechanism. We believe we have solved both of the urethane challenges by adding a spring steel core. The spring steel core promotes hoof mechanism and allows a solid anchor for nail clinching. In addition, the shape of the spring steel core solves the cupping and sole pressure problems that plague many other urethane shoe designs.  

A Nail-on urethane/steel hybrid that promotes hoof mechanism.

 

Watch the shoe flex under load. Hoof mechanism with each foot fall.  

What our EasyCare dealers and horse owners need to know:

1.  We have inventory in our warehouse of all styles and are shipping now. Dealers and consumers can place orders here.

2.  There are 4 styles. EasyShoe Flex Open Heel, EasyShoe Flex Heart Bar, EasyShoe Flex Full Heart Bar and EasyShoe Flex Light. The open heel, heart bar and full heart bar are available with toe clips or side clips.

3.  All sizes and styles are the same price except for the EasyShoe Flex Light. The Flex Light is a lower price point.  

Open nail slots and clear urethane provide accurate nail placement.

 

The four biggest take home messages for the farrier:

1.  The EasyShoe is very easy to apply. Any farrier can do it. The EasyShoe Flex line is not shaped with an anvil, the shoe is shaped by removing material with a belt sander or band saw. Watch Tim Cable apply the shoe in the video below.  

 

2.  Nails can be driven through the clear urethane window or holes can be pre-drilled. If the holes are pre-drilled, nailing is very accurate and no different that other nail on applications. The clear urethane material make the white line easy to see.  

3.  Wear is very great! Most people can expect a reset. The urethane is very hard wearing and the wide web makes for extended longevity.  

4.  It's easy to fit both front and back feet with the same pattern. Simply trace and remove material to match the shape of the hoof. The open nail slots provide plenty of adjustment after material is removed for accurate nail placement.

 

We hope your horses enjoy the new design. It's been a fun project that both Curtis and myself believe fills a niche in the equestrian industry.

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.

 

 

 

 

 

Under Pressure – Dealing with an Abscess (Part Two)

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Kelsey Lobato

After discovering an abscess and finding out the cause, start treatment and possibly a prevention program. The treatment program will depend on the type of abscess your horse has and what your vet and farrier have determined. It's important to remember that each approach to treating an abscess is unique and varies from others.

Here is my experience.

My first step in treating a hoof abscess is to gather supplies and medications. This way it's handy in the barn aisle or stall. 

  1. A bucket
  2. An Easyboot Soaker
  3. Epsom salt and Betadine
  4. Epsom salt poultice (if you cannot soak)
  5. Hydrogen peroxide
  6. A syringe
  7. Hoof pick
  8. Duct tape
  9. Gauze
  10. Vet wrap
  11. Easyboot Trail or Easyboot Cloud
  12. Gold Bond Powder

Note: If your vet has prescribed antibiotics and Bute, follow your doctor's instructions as long as the abscess has blown and you are seeing drainage. 

After gathering all your supplies, clean the hoof gently using a hoof pick and squirt hydrogen peroxide in the infected area. Make sure the pus and debris is cleaned out thoroughly for soaking. Next, place the Soaker boot on your horse and fill the boot with Epsom salt, betadine and hot water. Soak the hoof for about 10-15 minutes once a day for 3-4 days. If you can't soak the horses foot, use an Epsom salt poultice. Put a generous amount around the abscess/hoof, wrap and then leave on for 24 hours. Repeat for 3-4 days.

Once you have soaked the hoof, keep the hoof dry and clean. For my horse Summer Flame, I also packed the hoof with betadine/Epsom salt soaked gauze. I wrapped it with duct tape and vet wrap for 3 days until I could put her out with the other horses in boots.

Photo: Summer Flame in her makeshift boot

Keep the hoof clean, packed, and bandaged for several days, depending on how long it takes for the lameness to disappear. If the infection is deep in the hoof, the process of eliminating the infection and relieving the horse of pain will take longer.

In Summer Flame’s case, because the abscess was slow to heal and she still had swelling, I stopped wrapping her hoof and put her in the Easyboot Trails with medicated padding. I also continued with her prescribed antibiotics. She did very well turned out 24/7 in the boots. I checked them once a day to make sure they were staying on and not causing additional issues. She wore them for another week until the vet gave the "okay" for them to come off.

Note: if you leave the boots on for long periods of time, add Gold Bond Powder or a copper sulfate mix to prevent bacteria growth.

Photo: Summer Flame in the Trail boot

Here are the preventative measures I follow:

  • Maintain a regular farrier schedule
  • Feed a quality hoof supplement
  • Clean the hoof daily (If I can't get to the barn, I clean the hoof every two days)

In addition, keeping your pastures and paddocks clean as well as not over bathing your horse should reduce the risk of abscess development. If you have rocks in your paddock, removing them can help keep your horse from a stone bruise, which can lead to an abscess.

No matter how much you take preemptive steps to ensure no abscesses, there still might be a day when one does appear. Stay calm and act promptly in consulting your veterinarian and farrier. Be prepared and have the provisions you will need on hand to treat the problem.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Solutions For A Hoof Abscess

Treating an Abscess Using the Easyboot Rx

The Challenges of Spring Grass: Laminitis and Founder

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Dawn Willoughby

Original Post June 2, 2011

In most cases, owners can prevent the ravages of laminitis (inflammation of the laminae between hoof wall and coffin bone) and founder (pulling away of wall from coffin bone due to a broken laminae). During my six years as a professional trimmer, I tried to educate owners about preventing this painful situation. Here is a review of what I shared with them every spring.

I live in Delaware where we have a spring that challenges most horses. Beginning in late March, early April, our sugary spring grass starts to grow. Our worst days are cool and sunny. This combination has the effect of creating a surge of sugar in the grass. When the sun goes down, the spring night temperatures are cool, keeping the sugar in the grass, not allowing it to return to the roots. That's a double whammy for the natural herd that is out 24/7. It isn't until July that we reliably dry out and warm up every day and night. When this happens the sugar returns to the roots. I learned about forage growth and pasture management from studying materials and attending clinics by Katy Watts, www.safergrass.org, an agricultural expert and owner of founder-prone horses. She offers wonderful lectures on her site as well.
 

Sunny & Doc

Sunny and Doc, “the bay thoroughbred twins” at Tory Hill Farm in Glen Mills, Pa. Up to their eyeballs in spring grass, these former athletics are not markedly affected.

When I had a trimming practice, I encouraged owners to mark April 1st to July 1st on their calendars and prepare for spring grass for their easy keepers.
  1. First and foremost, adjust the diet. Lower dietary sugar anyway you can. You will need to be especially aggressive if you have a horse prone to laminitis and founder, usually known as an “easy keeper”. Examples: draft horses, native horses and ponies and donkeys. Eliminate grain, molasses, most treats and, if necessary, add a muzzle or put the horse in a dirt pasture or on a dirt path system such as Paddock Paradise. Hay should have 10% or less sugar. Correctly soaking hay can reduce sugar by 30%; leave the sugar water on the bottom of the tub. Most horses do very well on forage diets.
  2. Maintain or increase exercise. I have a friend who ponys her mini off her warmblood mare! This year she is teaching the mini to drive.
  3. A distant third, the trim. Apply a steeper bevel to outer and inner wall in order to avoid any wall pressure on the laminae of a normally well trimmed horse. In other words, apply the “rehab” trim (more info below).
  4. Involve the veterinarian as needed.
In the spring, the grass is nourishing seeds in order to survive. Even if you have an over-grazed area, you can assume it's high in sugar if there is grass. Stressed grass is high in sugar. I use Equi Analytical Laboratories to test hay and pasture. The test costs $26. Then I know the exact sugar content as well as the amount and proportion of minerals in my horse's diet. I have learned to supplement my horse's meals by balancing the minerals in his diet. Dr. Eleanor Kellon, www.drkellon.com, will help you create a plan for your horse or you can take her basic course on-line and learn to balance the diet yourself. Dr. Kellon is an expert in this area, especially working with foundered horses and will help owners with medicinal supplements, as well. She is well educated in homeopathy and herbal treatments.

As for the trim, I put a steeper angle (55 degrees) on the walls and switch from a “maintenance” trim to a “rehabilitation” trim in April, on all horses, founder-prone or not. That means I apply the mustang roll to the outer and inner wall, right to the laminae. I return to the maintenance trim in July when the sugar reliably declines, just beveling the outer wall. By relieving any pressure on the laminae (aka white line) via the wall, I am able to minimize wall flare due to laminitis. I have noticed that in May, my OTTB, Sunny. becomes a bit ouchy on the gravel driveway so clearly he has lamintis. There are other telltale symptoms. He may lose a little bit of concavity, about a half inch from the laminae. If he experiences any wall flare, it is limited to about an inch from the ground. In our 6 years together, he has never gone lame. Another telltale sign is one or more horizontal rings on the outer wall, laminitic rings where the laminae detached, and reattached. When I ride out in rocky areas, I simply boot the front. Padded Epics, Gloves and Generation 2 Old Mac all do a nice job.

Example 1
Tessa is an 8 year old, warmblood mare. She has been barefoot her entire life and has had what I consider a good trim for the past 4 years. Her owner trims her every week or two. She is turned out with a babysitter, Frisco the mini, on 3 acres that wrap around the house. Their diet is mostly low sugar hay. The pair moves a lot, checking on their people. This year Tessa's owner reduced her grain from a couple quarts to a handful. This is the first spring Tessa has not needed boots for cross country rides. I have seen her walk over rocky paths with no problem, just as she does the rest of the year. Tessa maintained full concavity on the bottom of her feet. Her weight has gone down to a healthier level too: you can feel but not see her ribs. Before hand she looked like a “typical” chunky warmblood. She is ridden daily.
 
Tessa & Frisco

Tessa and Frisco, both easy keepers, look great this spring. More importantly, they feel great.

Example 2
Martha learned to trim her two Percheron crosses a few years ago. This is the first spring at her own farm and she can finally control their environment. The horses are on a pasture with no grass. They eat nothing with grain or molasses and have low sugar hay strewn about the pasture. They are ridden most days. Here is the note I received from Martha this past April, 2011:

In that we are trying to save the pasture and have them on only a third of it (with no grass, just hay), we are also doing the boys a huge favor...they have absolutely NO laminitic rings, NO sore feet, NO hardish neck on Squire, etc. wow, all those times you said to keep them OFF the grass in spring and fall and other high sugar times, this really proves that point. Tell all those sorts of non believers who think their laminitic prone horses who are eating little bits of "stressed" grass, aren't getting enough to matter, that they are DEAD wrong and can get in touch with me it they want proof!!!  Bravo Dawn!!!
 
Shawn & Squire

Percheron Crosses, Shawn and Squire, have happy, working feet this spring.

Example 3
Early in my career, I worked on a chronically foundered Friesan who lived on a pasture with short, sad-looking vegetation (I hesitate to call it grass), growing in sandy soil. I couldn't believe it could make any horse sick but I was wrong. The only solution for a sensitive horse like that is to get him off the grass and feed the correct amount, by weight, of low sugar hay (Dr. Kellon can help you with the amount of hay). Although his owner didn't agree, I still believe the horse had been chronically foundered for most of his life. This explained his reluctance to work under saddle at the trot or canter. When I saw him, it was the first time he had gone lame. But I am sure he didn't “suddenly” get sore; he simply couldn't hide it anymore. His body had the telltale fat pad pattern of a lamintic horse: convex, filled in area above the eyes, cresty neck and fat pads on his shoulders and on either side of the tail.
 
Fat pad distribution After

Common fat pad distribution on founder-prone horse, a pure Friesan, and several months later after his diet had been corrected.

It's easy to tell on most horses if the wall is well connected to the coffin bone. Just put your fingers on the hairline of the coronary band and run them down the wall. Begin on one side and work your way around the entire foot. If you feel a flare, the wall isn't connected. This has been the case with almost every horse I have worked on. By correcting the diet, exercise and trim, I routinely grew out well connected feet. The only exception is a horse who has been chronically foundered and the laminae became scarred. There is nothing for the wall to attach to. Typically the wall is well connected for about half the foot and then flares out, even after a year of good care. Some horses do flare right out of the hairline but as you apply the correct trim, you will see the well connected foot at the top of the hoof capsule.
 
Bugsy After

Right off the track, Bugsy, shows off his original shod foot and four months later, half of the great foot he grew in 4 months. His is an example of flaring right out of the hairline, all around. He remained sound throughout. Long toes and underrun heels may be common on racehorses but don't confuse that with the excellent feet we can grow on thoroughbreds!

On sensitive, easy-keepers, owners must go into over drive in the spring and any time the weather is sunny in the day and cool at night, with adequate rain to grow grass. For some horses, I suspect Cushings Disease if they present with founder in the fall. The vet can test for this disease; long body hair is a late stage symptom.

Charlie, a Holsteiner gelding, came to the farm where I boarded in 2010. He had not been at the farm long enough to have well trimmed feet and the owner didn't have any “spring grass” experience with him. She was told he “rotated” in the previous spring. In May 2010, he developed massive abscesses along the hairline and in late May the wall pulled away from the coffin bone, founder. In a typical founder stance, Charlie “sat back” on his haunches to relieve pressure on his front feet where the coffin bone was threatening to push through the sole. When we could pick up a foot, we put him in padded Old Mac's G2. I showed the owner how to “peel” away part of the outer wall on the ground with nippers. We took the toe back to where it should be, giving him some relief. It took 12 months for his owner-trimmer to grow out a good foot.
 
Charlie

Charlie has almost grown out one of the large abscess, the horizontal line near the bottom of the foot from last years bout with founder.

Going into the spring of 2011, the owner decided to see how Charlie tolerated the grass, now with good feet. He did not (it really is about the diet). Abscesses appeared in April. He was put on a sacrifice lot with a friend, full time, with access to two stalls. In mid May, after the abscesses popped, (no one touched him with a knife of course), the owner experiment with muzzled turnout because Charlie moves so much more when he is with the herd of eight retired racehorses. She finally settled on a routine of muzzled turnout by day and sacrifice lot and two open stalls with a friend at night.

Don't tell me you can't keep a muzzle on your horse! Figure it out. Add a leather halter over the muzzle. Vet tape the two together. Add a brow band to the halter. Braid the crown piece into the mane at the pole. Add halter fuzzies everywhere to avoid rubs. I recommend removing the muzzle twice a day to check for rubs. If the horse has “an accomplice”, put that horse in a muzzle too; if he doesn't need it, just make the hole bigger so he can eat grass but not pull off the muzzle.

There is a misconception that once the horse has “rotated”, he can't go sound. This is untrue. In the vastly over-simplified version, the wall disconnects from the coffin bone when the laminae breaks due to a sugar overdose. If anything “rotates”, it's the wall away from the horse. The coffin bone is right where it should be, under the horse. According to Dr. Tomas Teskey, many horses feel better within days of a dietary correction. On most horses you can grow out a good foot in 7-12 months depending on how bad the situation is. Dead lame horses may recover more slowly. Please check Pete Ramey's site, www.hoofrehab.com, for many useful articles written by this well known “founder junkie”. His DVD series, Under the Horse, is excellent. Within that series are a couple of DVDs focusing on laminitis and founder. Shoes and stalling are never a good idea in my view.

The ultimate test? I was able to keep two miniature donkeys healthy in a grassy, 35 acre Pennsylvania pasture by putting Best Friend muzzles on them in mid-March and leaving them on until the first freeze, in December. They never even developed fat pads on their necks, shoulders and rumps. I did take off their muzzles for a half hour at breakfast and dinner to check for rubs. They shared a half cup of “safe” food. They were not fed apples or carrots because the glycemic index, although low for humans, is too high for super easy-keepers like donkeys. This advice came from Dr. Eleanor Kellon, my favorite equine nutritionist.

Clearly it is possible for owners to manage diet and lifestyle for their founder prone horses. I hope this introductory article is just the beginning of your research into learning all you can about preventing laminitis and founder for your best friend.

Good Luck and Happy Trails!

Dawn

My Favorite Resources
  • Equi Analytical Laboratories http://www.equi-analytical.com. The sister laboratory, Dairy One, has additional educational information.
  • Dr. Eleanor Kellon's www.drkellon.com offers reasonably priced consults and great on-line courses. The first course to take is “National Research Foundation (NRC) Plus”. The NRC 2007 recommendations books is available on-line.
  • Pete Ramey's www.hoofrehab.com has articles, DVD's and current research.
  • Katy Watt's http://www.safergrass.org/ offers consults, articles and excellent Power Point lectures on CDs and clinic schedule.

Dawn Willoughby lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Drew Knox, Annie the Rottweiler and Sunny, OTTB. During her professional trimming career (2004-2010) she focused on teaching owners to trim their horses. She will work with owners online who have no access to trimmers and will conduct owner-focused trimming clinics internationally. She now focuses on equine bodywork along with in-hand and mounted training as physical therapy for the horse. Dawn maintains an educational site, http://4sweetfeet.com/, where you can find free trimming videos and articles on all aspects of natural horse care. The videos and more are also on http://youtube.com/4sweetfeet.

Adventures of Winter Hoof Keeping: Challenges and Solutions in the Pacific Northwest

Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein, Equine Balance Hoof Care

Here at 48 degrees North, off the coast of Washington, our winters are usually mild and temperate, with lots of wind, occasional brief snow, and plenty of sideways rain. This is a wimpy winter compared with many across the country. Best management strategy for healthy hooves is usually “a dry place to stand out of the wind.”

This 2018 out-of-character winter has brought multiple days of below freezing temps following epic rainfall. What we got was impromptu skating rinks, slippery slopes and nail-sharp footing. During a typical couple months of winter appointments I cataloged some of our challenging conditions and ways owners cope.

My clients are on 5 to 6 week trim rotations through winter and most feed high-quality forage supplemented with balanced minerals. High immunity and tight keratin bonds only go so far. Two places we fall short for healthy hooves are movement and moisture balance. When daily hoof care slips that adds to the problem. Despite best efforts, some horse owners are coping with thrush and abscesses by February. Clients with heavy-use tracks had other challenges: wind-thrown trees, flooding, mud slicks and ice rinks.

Here are some examples of hooves, environments, puzzles and solutions:

Heavy use track with mud and drainage issues.

This becomes a hazard when the temperatures drop.

Our islands are “piles of rock” with a clay layer and thin topsoil reaches saturation point early in winter. Though annual rainfall in this part of Washington averages 25 inches, rainfall either drains slowly or creates new pasture lakes. Hooves tend to be sponge-like unless owners invest in mud control or hard-scape footing.

Solution: scrape topsoil away and apply 5/8” gravel with fines. Horses will compact surface. Adding a Geotex fabric layer between soil and gravel would improvesurface durability.

January with 6 inches of gravel, snow and mud are no longer a hazard.

Heavy use track with serious mud and flooding.

Same heavy use track, now with drainage swale (right) and deep wood chips from trees removed.

Before making footing and diet improvements, this thoroughbred’s right front is unraveling despite routine hoofcare.

Same horse this February: left front before trim at 4 weeks, a much more resilient hoof on the improved footing shown above.

Arabian Belle lives on deep medium-size gravel withlimited pasture turnout.

Belle before trim at 6 weeks in February. She needs attention to that frog crevice, but this could be a poster hoof for successful winter hoofkeeping.

Quarter horse Lucy before January trim at 6 weeks. Check out those solid heels and bars.

Lucy shelters in pea gravel, and spends winter in a sand and rock chip sacrifice area.

Sandy sacrifice area is gently sloped and slow draining, but deformable surface encourages movement and gentle hoof abrasion.

Easily available wood chips make a forgiving, drainable surface as long as they don’t become saturated. Composting wood chips are acidic and may unravel hoof wall. Wood chips or “hog fuel” are a semi-permanant solution, as they degrade over a few seasons.

Before trim at 6 weeks. Two horses who get regular trims, but sporadic daily hoof care, no balanced minerals and no respite from saturated conditions. Bacterial and fungal opportunists have prevailed and we have problems.

What’s going on? Horses on abrasive footing maintained beautiful distal hoof wall, plump frogs, and many grew robust bars for extra support. Horses with no respite from the constant moisture developed deep central sulcii and white line voids. Horses with excellent diets housed 24/7 in large muddy pastures had amazingly healthy hooves. Horses kept in sacrifice areas without daily hoof care did okay until mid-winter when thrush took hold. Thin-soled horses did all right in soft conditions until the freeze, when they needed boot support. In all cases owners used Gloves or Back Country for trail riding. Sometimes they added Quick Studs for mud and slushy conditions.

A solution for frozen footing is temporary use of Cloud boots to prevent bruising. I found Clouds kept thin-soled horses moving all winter despite treacherous frost heave and rough going.

What I see is proof that the 3-pronged approach of diet-movement-trim makes a significant difference in how well hooves adapt to changing conditions. Whatever winter threw at you, Happy Spring!

February Share Your Adventure: Willa and the Easyboot Cloud.

Submitted by Nichole Kunze an Easyboot customer.

Horse hoof problems can be some of the most difficult to overcome. I worked for a veterinarian who specialized in equine podiatry so I understand the lengthy process of diagnostics, care and the struggles of trying to make an equine sound and comfortable for a pain free life.

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have horses over my lifetime with sound feet. I am cautious with purchasing horses because with no hoof, there’s no horse. A trainer and close friend contacted me about a mare being given away that I had put time on years back.

Her name is Miss Camptown Bidder. She is a 19-year-old mare with Pedal Osteitis who has had past laminitis as a result of the condition. It’s basically demineralization of the coffin bone. So needless to say, it is NOT a condition anyone wants to experience, but I just couldn’t say no. I took the older mare with a serious condition that could put her in her grave in November of 2017.

After a lot of research, I determined that blood flow was a key element to helping this condition as well as providing comfort to the sole. How do you provide comfort to the sole while allowing the frog to continually make contact in the natural way to ensure blood flow? I did not feel shoes were the answer to this. I ran across EasyCare, then found out a friend of mine worked for them! If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what was.

After speaking with her, we decided on the Easyboot Cloud. By this point “Willa” wasn’t a happy mare. I had a farrier out to trim her because she was very long in the toe. It was looking like her laminae was compromised. Her radiology from May of 2017 had showed she had for sure struggled with laminitis, her toe wasn’t being kept back and now she would barely walk, laid down frequently, just did enough to get by day to day. 

The boots came in and she was walking 75% better immediately! I couldn’t believe it. Our long-term goals with her were to see if she could be a step-up barrel horse for my daughter. Needless to say, I was not optimistic, but more worried after the first couple weeks of having her of just making her comfortable enough to not be euthanized. 

Well I am blessed to say I have gotten to know the real Willa! She bucks, she is the dominant mare in her group, and she takes no flak from anyone! She trots around comfortably and is just the sweetest girl to handle. We are now working on measurements for the Easyboot Glove to start riding her this Spring. I couldn’t be more excited!!!! Thank you EasyCare Inc for helping this girl. She more than deserves it!