In-Hand Harmony

Six Weeks: Hoof Casts

It’s been six weeks since we removed Tobias’ front shoes. He continues to do fine with the hind, but unless he is wearing one of the pairs of boots he now has (we just added a pair of EasyCare’s latest, “Transitions“, in addition to his Old Mac G2′s), he is still tender footed. Besides, no matter how I work to ease him into wearing boots, alternate styles and liberally apply foot powder, he was still chafing on his heel bulbs. So I called our farrier, Jason Critton.

Jason and his crew kindly added us to the end of their day Friday evening to see what could be done to make Tobias comfortable. Jason said that Tobias’ feet looked great (I felt a bit of pride since I’ve been lightly filing, see “Going Barefoot: Getting Educated“). He said that Tobias’ soles were nice and hard, but that they were very thin — he could actually depress Tobias’ sole using his thumbs. And, in addition to having very thin soles, Tobias is flat in his front feet, there’s no concavity. No wonder he’s tender footed!

Casted HoofShort of wearing boots 24/7 or putting shoes back on, Jason suggested we could add the sole guard or cast his feet. I described some pro’s and con’s about the sole guard in an earlier post (“Tender Footed“), so we opted to cast his feet. This process looks like wrapping the hoof in vet wrap, but it’s a roll that is dipped into warm water and wrapped. It dries very quickly and forms a cast similar to what you might get if you broke your wrist. Jason packed Tobias’ hoof on either side of the frog with a cushioning material that would also draw out inflammation, and then wrapped the casting material around some of the bottom and up almost to the coronet. The casting protects the soles of his hooves and by adding a thickness to the periphery gets the sole a little bit off the ground to provide some relief. Tobias stood without being tied and breathed a big sigh each time a hoof was completed.

Jason hadn't realized that the third roll of casting material was white instead of black.

Jason hadn’t realized that the third roll of casting material was white instead of black.

Tobias is now choosing to move much more around in his paddock and with more enthusiasm in the pasture. Instead of a short strided walk with a head bob, he is walking, trotting and cantering out nicely. Movement means that he will be better able to grow more hoof. The casts should last a month, and then we’ll reevaluate.


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