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

Glue-On Composite Shoes Help the Horse & Build Bridges

By Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm

In the past, I’ve written about the importance of finding common ground with each other. Whether you call yourself a farrier, barefoot trimmer, equine podiatrist or hoof care provider, it doesn't matter because we're all responsible for the same thing:

The care and soundness of the horse’s foot.

I’ve written about how we all have beliefs about what we do with the horse’s foot along the lines of religious conviction. (See blog "One Hoof Church, All Religions") We tend to think in terms of Good and Bad, Right and Wrong. However, I believe we are more than that. I believe that what we can learn from each other about helping a horse overcomes anything that could divide us.

I get to travel all over the world teaching and helping others be successful using glue-on composite shoes like the EasyShoe (Performance, NG, Sport, Compete, and new Flex) Easyboot Glue-On, Easyboot LC, and Easyboot Flip Flop. The diversity of practitioners attending these clinics amazes me: farrier, trimmer, podiatrist and hoof care provider.  The glue-on composite shoe clinics attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds and training styles who come together in one place to learn how to help the horse. There are very few places where such a strongly opinionated group of people can come learn together and dare I say, even learn from each other!

Glue-on composite shoes create a common ground that bridges the differences between us, and opens the door to opportunities to help each other help horses more effectively. They're a tool that accommodates not only differences in trim style, and differences in believe about shoe placement and fit, but they cross international differences of language and culture. Regardless of a person's background or location, glue-ons are a tool that anyone can successfully use to help the horse.

I recently traveled to Norway and was excited to see many diverse practitioners come together again.  We had participants who called themselves farriers, blacksmiths, and natural balance farriers.  We also had barefoot trimmers from multiple schools of training, and several veterinarians.   Everyone was open-minded to new ideas and respected each other.

We had fun, learned from each other, and helped a number of horses in the process. 

At this clinic in particular we talked a lot about the Four Stages of Learning.

Many of us operate in the first stage of learning, Unconscious Incompetence, meaning you don't know what you don't know.  When you realize you need to learn more, you get to the second stage of learning, Conscious Incompetence, which is a very uncomfortable place to be but often motivates you to obtain more education, like coming to a hoof clinic.  Then you learn more, and get to Stage 3, Conscious Competence, meaning you can use a new skill but with concentration and effort.  Then finally when you've practiced enough, and have proficiency at the task you get to the fourth stage of learning, Unconscious Competence, meaning you can do something competently without conscious thought.  

In order for such a diverse group of practitioners to get together, often the participants have to be willing to live in Stage 2, a place of Conscious Incompetence, in front of their peers, many from opposing philosophies.  It takes a great deal of mental and emotional toughness to put yourself in that place.  The group from Norway excelled at being open-minded and supported each other by sharing new ideas without judgment.  They each took away new information and skills to practice, which moved them to Stage 3, Conscious Competence.

I am amazingly proud to share a tool that can create common ground among diverse practitioners. There is so much to gain from coming together and learning from each other, I am grateful that glue-on composite shoes can create a platform for sharing as well as be a valuable tool to help the horse.  

 

For more information on Daisy Haven Farm and Glue-on Composite Shoe clinics please see:
www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com
 

 

Tale of Two Icelandic Ponies

Submitted by: Chris Kreuger, an EasyCare Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner.

Adam and Frothie are 2 unrelated Icelandic ponies who live together in Eastern New York State. They live in a nearly perfect environment for their breed! Their owners have them on a large dry lot 24/7 where they control the amount of hay they get and they supplement their forage with a small amount of timothy pellets with Vermont Blend which is a mineral and amino acid supplement that is formulated specifically for our area. They are trail ridden during the warmer months and love to "tolt" their little hearts out!

They look extremely similar body wise but their feet could not be more different. Adam has very healthy and robust feet that can crunch rocks! He has a great strong heel buttress, thick frog over a well-developed digital cushion, a thick and concave sole and a uniform and well-connected hoof wall. 

Then there is Frothie. Same environment, same diet, same breed, only slightly older... And his feet are not as ideal. His hoof walls tend to be flared and not as well connected, a thin sole and his one redeeming feature is a relatively well-developed frog. He was comfortable in his paddock environment but had trouble when being ridden over rocks. Since adding the VT Blend supplement about 4 months ago, his feet have actually improved but he still needs extra support when ridden. For this, he LOVES his old-style Back Country Gloves! 

Many people think that gaited horses won't be able to gait in boots but if they are trained to accept them and have a good natural gait, it should enhance this already exciting movement. It took Frothie a few rides to get used to his boots but once he realized how much faster he could go with them, there was no stopping him. My point in comparing these 2 ponies is to show that some horses may achieve a completely perfect looking hoof even if all of the factors are in place. There are only so many factors you can control and that's where boots can help a horse like this. 

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.

EasyShoe Performance NGs: Another Tool on the Belt

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Timothy Prindle of Barefoot Equine.

Atlas, a mustang came into my care about 7 years ago. His owner, Megan, moved to Los Angeles from Seattle and brought Atlas to an eventing barn. What makes Atlas an interesting case is that even with strong mustang hoof walls and soles, he grows ferociously straight forward with long toe/under run heels if not kept in check. So steady, consistent trimming has always been a vital part of his hoof care.

When I began with him, his heels were fairly contracted with a narrow frog that protruded significantly higher than his hoof wall, which I wasn’t thrilled about because I could not reduce heel height safely without risking sensitivity. An on again off again soundness issue was diagnosed as degenerative joint disease within the coffin joint. To reduce stress on that joint, the veterinarian recommended we use shoes in order to cut back toe and enhance breakover.

These were the days before I had given up steel, so I outfitted him with a set (which, of course, I had to grind the heck out of so as not to create excessive pressure on those protruding frog heights). He still struggled with some lameness even after the metal shoes were put on and we found that by keeping the toe back with 4-6 week shoeings was imperative to keeping him sound. Additionally, since his diagnosis, the vet would come out to give injections to his joint every 6 to 8 months. In time, however, I could tell the steel shoes were doing nothing to help a narrow frog and contracted heels. 

As a farrier out of Cornell Farrier School, it seemed natural to progress to the EasyShoe Performance NG for those horses needing a little help beyond barefoot—and to also have another tool in my belt aside from booting. Barefoot was my specialty, so EasyShoes made sense from a natural hoof care prospective and they were slowly beginning to replace steel in my work. Atlas was the last of my horses still in iron.

I mentioned to Megan that the EasyShoe Performance N/G shoes could be a perfect compliment to the veterinarian's prescription, which would allow for better expansion of his foot and provide the freedom for his heels to spread. So we pulled the metal shoes and started with EasyShoes. 

That was 3 years ago, and now Atlas is a much happier horse. His heels have spread astonishingly, more than I had anticipated, and he has a wide frog to match his thick, mustang hoof walls and sole. His injections last almost twice as long and he doesn’t miss a step on the jumping course with the EasyShoe’s tread. As his owner says, "Atlas lives for the cross country portion of the eventing discipline. And he’s now becoming proficient in stadium jumping as well—novice level (3’3’’  jumps)."

As for me, I put my last steel shoe on 3 years ago and now use the EasyShoe Performance N/G’s regularly in my craft. They have proven to be an excellent tool for rehabbing as well as providing support within specific equine disciplines that typically require steel shoes. 

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! 

The Easyboot Mini's Personal Impact

Submitted by Victoria Nodiff-Netanel of Mini Therapy Horses.

For years I’ve been searching for the perfect boots for my miniature therapy horses and EasyCare has created one that fits and functions like a dream! 

Mini Therapy Horses is an all volunteer nonprofit charity. Our mission is to bring hope, comfort and joy to children and adults in need with our 7 highly trained miniature therapy horses. Our little horse angels provide emotional, physical and positive mental benefits to those they visit with the help of our team of volunteers. Our specialty is helping people in crisis.

All of our tiny mares have a busy schedule. They are registered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Civilian Volunteer Program, who can be called on at a moment’s notice 24/7 and are available for community outreach events like National Night Out, Emergency Preparedness events and LASD open houses. We have a special literacy program with Lieutenant Jennifer Seetoo bringing the minis to schools and LA County Public Libraries.

The horses comfort patients and staff in The Greater Los Angeles Veterans Hospital, the psychiatric wards, the Intensive Care Unit and VA Hospice. We’ve been committed to weekly visits in this hospital for over 8 years. We love the veterans and they love our horses! One of the many heartfelt interactions that has inspired me was when I received a Last Wish request from the head nurse of the VA Hospice in North Hills, CA. She had a terminal patient, Jerry, that requested to see my therapy horse Pearl as his last wish. He had met Pear when he was being in the Greater LA Veterans Hospital and it really touched his heart. Jerry had been taken in by a family on a farm in Germany and his fondest memories were of the horses he connected with as a frightened child. I went within days to visit Jerry with Pearl and it brought all the nurses to tears. Jerry talked to Pearl as he went in and out of consciousness while stroking her. They were communicating in their own language. Pearl knew what he needed. I heard a few days after our visit Jerry passed peacefully and I felt honored to have Pearl help him on his way.

Mini Therapy Horses are regular visitors at Ronald McDonald House East Hollywood and Pasadena where the families of children undergoing treatment for cancer and other critical medical procedures in nearby hospitals, get to stay free or at low cost.  The children are always excited to spend time with our tiny horses.

We have so many incredible experiences with the children and their families, and I’d like to share a few. Pearl and I visited with a little girl staying at Pasadena Ronald McDonald House that was going through critical procedures and had lost a leg to cancer. We hooked a lead on both sides of Pearl’s halter and off we went together with her walker and all! She was so overjoyed and felt like a normal kid walking a horse while Pearl pranced in her Easyboot Minis. Being able to lead a horse from a walker or wheelchair gives these kids a sense of empowerment and a memory they will never forget!

Another magical visit was with our volunteer Megan Sullivan and myself handling mini therapy horse Willow Blue and a child that was visually impaired. With sensitivity and compassion Megan took his hands and helped him navigate Willow from her ears to her hooves. He felt the warmth breath from her nostrils and ran his fingers through her fluffy mane. He was ecstatic with happiness and his mother was crying saying she had never seen him respond like that and be so engaged. This comfort and relief for the parents and siblings is vital to the health of the entire family and his support system. These experiences are the essence of what drives our hearts and our charity, Mini Therapy Horses.

Our relationship with EasyCare began when I met one of their representatives at an event in Santa Rosa where they were unveiling their new Easyboot Mini. I first had our horse Black Pearl put on a set of the smallest Mini boots on the market. The boot slipped on, was the perfect fit, and it looked gorgeous! In that moment Pearl and I felt like Cinderella and we both knew our search for the perfect boots for our miniature therapy horses was over! Our lives were changed forever!

We are so thankful for EasyCare’s sponsorship, supplying all our therapy horses with their fantastic boots. Our equine family adjusted seamlessly to the feel of the boots and we love the ability to conform the boots to each hoof with the Velcro straps. The integrity of the construction of their boot is very impressive. They hold up beautifully with lots of use. The EasyCare Mini boots match the work that we do helping grieving communities and children and adults in crisis. As members of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Crisis Response Team the horses are secure in all situations and look very professional. It’s so important to feel confident in a product we’re endorsing. It is important that it meets the high standards of our therapy organization and the people and agencies we work with.

I’ve trained the horses to do many tricks that are tools to break the ice, promote interaction between patients, and bring joy to those withdrawn, depressed and in pain. They all play a battery operated keyboard, give a high five, they smile and stand on their hind legs, kick balls, squeak toys and of course, bow. At any time we might be requested to visit an at-risk youth center like A Place Called Home in South Central, LA, Newton Police Station, Maryvale Orphanage, a home to console families that experienced a traumatic event, a busy street fair, or a school. The minis are able to perform in their boots and feel calm and secure doing these activities. The boots are practical and have a neat and clean appearance. The Mini boots complete our horses professional uniforms including their vests, halters and leads.

Aside from looking beautiful, I have full confidence knowing my horses will be able to comfortably move with ease and stability on a variety of surfaces. At the Veterans Hospital they shine the floors so well you can see your reflection in them. We love walking down the corridors in our Easy Boot Minis knowing we won’t we slipping and sliding! Nothing makes me happier than to see the kids at Ronald McDonald House feel so empowered when they double leash walk the little horse with us, all decked out with shoes, bows, a sparkly halter and a vest with an embroidered flying horse.

These boots are lightweight but at the same time tough and durable allowing Black Pearl and Blue Moon to show off their standing abilities! This trick on some surfaces could be potentially dangerous for our girls without their trusty boots. The flexibility of the boots allows for the natural movement of the legs. Whether we are at in a hospital room visiting a patient, with the children at Ronald McDonald House, de-stressing law students in the UCLA Library or doing community service with the LASD, the Easyboot Minis are sure to protect our horse’s tiny hooves.

I always laugh when we are getting ready to go on a visit and pull out the boots, because the horses KNOW we are headed out on a mission helping people all over Los Angeles.

January 1st , Mini Therapy Horses will be participating in the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade proudly sporting the Easyboot Minis on our 7 therapy horses. This year’s theme is “Making a Difference” and EasyCare has truly made a difference in our lives in helping our horse’s ability to help others in need!

Thank you, EasyCare.

Throwback: The Easyboot Epic History

Blog originally posted November 29, 2009

Easyboot Epic is one of the most successful protective horse boots in the equine industry. Unlike a horses shoe, a hoof boot can be applied to the barefoot hoof by a horse owner and used as a spare or can used when a barefoot horse needs additional hoof protection.

How did the Epic become one of the best natural horse products? The Easyboot Epic evolved from the original Easyboot invented in 1970. After the invention of the first hoof boot in 1970, the Easyboot quickly improved and continued to change under the direction of Dr. Neel Glass. Horse hoof problems are a problem today and were more prevalent in the 70's.  Barefoot trimming techniques have helped improve many of the problems.

Take a look at the Easyboot photos and look back at the history of Easyboots for horses. 


The first prototype Easyboot

The first prototype Easyboot. Roofing material and ski buckles were used on the first prototype.

First Easyboot production model.  Early 1970's.

The first Easyboot production model. Neel Glass and his staff hand poured the material into molds. This was the first of the protective horse boots to ever hit the equine market. Neel first made them in what he called "Natural" color.

First black production model

Neel soon added black to his natural horse products.

Side hardware was soon moved inside.  This version was late 1970's.

Hardware on the side of the Easyboot was soon moved inside the hoof boot. The backstrap on this old boot has since rotted away.

Easyboot buckles improved and became more sturdy over time

Easyboot buckles improved and became more sturdy over time.

The back of the boots were high and needed to be cut down by the consumer.

The back of the boots were high and needed to be cut down by the consumer.

All Easyboot molds were later changed to lower profile in the back.


Once a year EasyCare did a small run of red Easyboots.

The current production Easyboot

The current production Easyboot.

Easyboot Epic

The Easyboot then evolved into the Easyboot Epic.

The Epic is the same boot as the Easyboot but adds a gaiter to the back of the Easyboot Shell. The gaiter helps keep the boot in place by locking down the heel of the horse. The Epic was the answer to the barefoot hoof and barefoot trimming. Easy boots for horses were now staying in place much better and were easy to apply. 

Blog originally posted November 27, 2009. Updates to this product have occured since that date and are not listed in this content. For more information, please contact us.