Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Not So Happy Feet

So every summer I have the same trouble with Tucker's feet.  The rest of the year, I am able to keep them together using Keratex Gel (which is on sale at State Line Tack right now, incidentally) a few times a week.  I like Keratex because it seals their feet (it's "hydrophobic" so you can see water bead up on the hooves after applying), so their feet don't get too wet and soft if it's muddy or snowy.  He also gets SmartHoof, which my hoof supplement of choice because I think you get the most bang for your buck.
In summer, however, that doesn't seem to be enough.  I guess it's a combo of night turnout (where sometimes they get hit with a summer shower), dewy morning grass, and fly stomping that pretty much does him in every year.  Last year, since we had practically no rain all summer, his feet held together.  This summer, and all other summers, we've needed to do adhesive patches where his hoof wall basically comes apart around the nails in his front feet.

Not actually Tucker's foot, because I'm dumb and forgot to take a picture.
This is not ideal, of course, because as the hoof expands and contracts, but the resin doesn't, so after a week or so the adhesive patch begins to peel away from the foot, and if that's what the nails are held to... that shoe is not staying put.  

So, I've been using the Keratex gel every time I ride, after he's been standing in the aisle and his feet are as dry as possible, and I have been parking him in front of an industrial fan instead of hosing him off after rides, to avoid getting his feet wet.  But his feet are still soft.  I feel like it's time for me to try to get ahead of this instead of just living with loose shoes and crappy feet all summer.

I asked the COTH forums for some advice on topical products to use.  Once you get past the expected responses of not doing night turnout (not happening), changing his diet (finally have that sorted out, thank you), and barefoot trimming (doesn't work for him), they suggested I try another Keratex product, their Hoof Hardener, which I've ordered (thanks for the discount code Smartpak!).  Here is what Keratex says about it:

Keratex Hoof Hardener strengthens weak, worn and cracked hooves by improving the molecular structure of the horn itself. Equally effective in wet & dry conditions.
Prevents the horn from taking in excess moisture, making it resistant to softening and weakening in wet conditions. This results in a reduction in shoe loss and abscesses.
Keratex Hoof Hardener is not an oil or a resin layer and does not seal the hoof; it will ensure the treated hoof is able to breathe naturally.
Moisture balance is properly maintained.
I've also gotten recommendations to use Vaseline or Corona ointment before a bath, to act as a moisture barrier, but I wonder if this will just add to the softening of his feet?  I'll try it.  Or maybe I'll just keep using the Keratex Gel before baths, and keep baths to a minimum?

Open to ideas here, for topicals and/or supplements.  But please don't tell me not to turn him out overnight.  Or before you do, picture my horse all alone in the barn all night long, bearing in mind that he panics if he can't see another horse for 30 seconds.  And then picture how sad my blog post would be when I have to tell you all that we lost Tucker when he attempted to climb over his wall and/or squeeze through his window.

So bloggers and blog readers, any ideas on this?  Stuff that works?  


  1. I really like Durasole for general toughening up. I've used it more often for soles than hoof wall, but I think if you improve the quality of one you impact the other. I've seen Durasole take mushy, soft, wet soles to solid soles within a matter of days. The trick is to do as many applications as you possibly can - before you ride, after you ride, before you leave the barn, etc. You can re-do it as soon as the first layer dries. I wrote about a better way to apply it here;

    1. You know I went to that post of yours and I actually commented - but of course promptly forgot that trick. May have to try it out now!

  2. I have used Tough Stuff in the past, and it works OK. The price point is a lot lower than Keratex and it helped my barefoot draft horse adjust to a really rocky turnout. His feet went from chipping like crazy to holding up very well.

  3. I got the Keratex hardener for Pong a few weeks ago but cant comment on it's efficacy because I was using it for a different reason which was moot point after I put his shoes back on since he couldn't deal being barefoot. I think anything you can do to limit moisture exposure sounds like a good idea, so maybe sponge baths where you can control the water a little better might help?

  4. We have also used Durasole. We just put it in a spray bottle and spray in on. It does work, but we also live in a 4 year long drought so I don't know if it's enough to conquer your wet conditions.

  5. Ugh. Courage's feet tried to completely fall apart last summer because he couldn't take the dew on the grass from about 9-11am. And we live in the desert, soooooo there wasn't all that much grass or moisture.

    I did try using Vaseline as a moisture barrier, but what really made the difference for us was just turning him out on a dry lot until the grass dried in the mornings, then only putting him on fields with quite short grass.

    It certainly wasn't ideal and doesn't help your situation at all. Best of luck.

  6. When I worked at a therapeutic riding center, we used straight up iodine sprayed on the horses' hooves to keep them hard. Good luck!

  7. i have zero experience with this but will be curious to hear what ends up working out for your guy - good luck!! constantly patching up feet and tacking on shoes sounds super frustrating :(

  8. My vet makes me use an iodine treatment on Riesling's feet to keep them nice and hard. They have their own formula called "Solepaint" but I don't think they really sell it. I think any sort of iodine treatment will work.

  9. My bottle of the hoof hardener arrived yesterday so we'll see how it goes! I think we still will need front shoes (we have been barefoot) the rockier terrain at our new barn is not friendly to our feet!


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