Our story begins with Blanche, a super sweet and gentle, giant white Mammoth Donkey. I have experience in working with Mammoth Donkeys in the past, and could tell from the pictures that our client sent that Blanche would be a massive challenge.
Sadly, Blanche would teach us much about the equine pain threshold and bone loss from recurring laminitis. Her hoof provided a bunch of clues, but most telling were her radiographs…
First, the client and I met with the veterinarian who revealed the surprising X-rays. As you can see the coffin bone is very thin and porous. From the skyline view, you can even deduce that the frog appears denser than the bone.
I realized that most of the ways I had protected foundered equines in the past was not going to work for Blanche. With this amount of bone loss, and the fact that Blanche wasn’t comfortable standing for even short periods of time (especially on one hoof), our protection options were severely limited.
I knew we would need to be very creative to find a way to help make her comfortable. Her hoof capsule, not only long and thin (donkey shaped), was also severely distorted though out. The hoof wall was rippled, thin and flaky. Finding a shoe/boot to fit was going to be a big challenge, let alone reducing break over and providing support to the back half of the hoof, which is necessary for providing protection in a founder case.
I am convinced that the EasyShoe Performance N/G is one of the most versatile hoof protection devices ever created. By adding a few extra pieces we were able to bring significant comfort to this beautiful Donkey.
As I said, the shape of the hoof is long and narrow. To make the shoe fit I had to remove some of the material in the “key hole,” that area where the shoe flexes the most allowing the heels of the shoe to be even narrower. Next, knowing Blanche would not be able to stand on one hoof long enough for direct gluing and or accept the concussion of nailing, we opted for “Casting Hooks.” These are traditionally used to hold a shoe in place after casting material is wrapped around the hoof capsule.
I wanted to keep the heels open and moving, taking advantage of the EasyShoe design in order to build hoof flexion, digital cushion and hopefully a stronger foundation for this Donkey. Instead of “locking in” the heels with casting tape, I used a piece of Poly-Vectran, a braided repair fabric, glued across the Casting Hooks and the dorsal wall. I used an acrylic glue, EasyShoe bond and glued the tabs of the N/G as well as using the Fabric and the Casting Hooks to hold the EasyShoe in place, wrapping it all nice and tight in cellophane to keep everything secure while the glue cured. To support the back half of the hoof/shoe I packed it with dental impression material.
The final product was not the most beautiful thing in the world, but the proof is in how well Blanche was able to move in the weeks that followed. Her owner tries to keep her quiet but Blanche just wants to run with her herd!
Keeping an open mind and being creative is what we all do best. I hope this unique case gives you a few ideas or tools for your toolbox to help you help more horses – or Donkeys!