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?