Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Adventures with Hoof Casts

I was SO EXCITED to give hoof casting a try. I have read Pete Ramey's article on casts multiple times and honestly I think I have just been waiting for an owner with a horse that needs it willing to give it a try.

Madison has had Prince, a 6 year old OTTB gelding for about 3 months. Previous he had been turned out with no work for quite a few months. He came to her with shoes on, she had him reshod once and has decided to go barefoot.

He has been landing toe first (even in shoes). That is the first order of business.

Looking a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.

Prince came out of shoes quite sore, with soles on the thin side but with some nice big frogs and decent lateral cartilages and digital cushion for an OTTB. His walls weren't coping well with nails and are thin - he actually broke off a large chunk of wall at the quarter after I removed his shoe. This left his sole the only weight bearing structure in that whole entire part of the foot. I rushed out that night to tidy it up and assess. He was quite sore.

I measured him up for boots - then promptly got disheartened as his width measurements were two or even three sizes different to his length measurements. As you may know, this means boots are difficult to fit.

Post trim right front;

Little bit of flare.

Heels a bit under run, collapsed.

Heels taken down a little lower than I normally would have for a horse fresh out of shoes but I knew he would be getting protection.

See, not too bad. Plenty to work with!

Right front:

Quarter that lost it's wall - that is all sole on the ground. :(

Lots of flare on this one.

Apparently this horse has a massive over reach problem. This is an old scar he keeps re-opening. On a side note, when his shoe first came off this hoof, the frog was much higher than the heels. Less than a week later, and the frog has already flattened out level with the heels. Hooves never cease to amaze me.

Not much wall at all really, a little bit of thrush infection. Sole a little thicker on this one but not thick or calloused enough to withstand the forces not taken care of by the missing wall.Looks like a hind hoof, but it is a front, promise!

Then, I read Kristen's post about Laz's hoof casts and it got me googling. Prince has thin soles and weak walls. He needs support while the crappy nail hole-ridden walls grow out and his sole throws out material. He is in work too, being schooled maybe 3-4 times a week and his owner wants to keep riding him.

Ok - now that you are up to speed, lets talk about Equicast. I hope to kick start sole growth, tip him back to heel first landings. Apparently the cast still flexes with the hoof (not as much as a healthy hoof all by itself though). It adds strength and support to the walls, heels, fog and sole. They can be ridden in to a certain extent (reduces the life of the cast though). It seemed to be a good temporary measure to keep Madi riding but to get Prince comfortable.

It wasn't the cheapest of endeavors though.


Equicast 3" - $22 each (one per hoof).
Vettec Adhere - $57 (this does multiple applications though - it's the black glue in the pictures).
Glue Dispensing Gun - $100! (I didn't get one but I really should have - the glue was a bitch to get out and I wasted heaps trying to get the mix 50/50).
Mixing tips - about $15 for 4

Plus a sponge, foam mats, bucket and water, cling wrap, gloves.Tip one: organise all your stuff within arms reach BEFORE starting to mix the glue!

Shall I do a step by step?
1. After trimming the hoof, use sandpaper on the walls to remove any dirt/mud etc.
2. Use a hair drier to thoroughly dry the hoof.

3. Next, apply the glue tp the hoof wall. Tip number two: make sure you get the glue gun too - adhere is a bitch to get out of the tube and you will waste A LOT if you are dumb and don;t get the gun like me.

Excuse boobs.

4. Quick! Before the glue sets (within about 30 seconds) open the equicast and start wrapping the hoof, using the method shown in the Equicast youtube video.

Start at one heel.
Wrap around, up toward other heel.

Just keep wrapping, wrapping wrapping...
 5. When you get to the end of the cast, cut it (if you need to) so it ends on the underside of the hoof.

6. Wet the cast thoroughly with a sponge, then wrap in cling wrap before placing the hoof on the mat with the sponge underneath to make the cast mold to the sole. Lift the opposite leg to ensure the hoof expands in the cast.

7. After a few minutes remove the cling wrap, trim away with your knife any cast material that is over the coronary band or the soft bulbs of the heel. Walk the horse on dry clean ground to fully expand the hoof. I then used my rasp to remove any high pieces in the sole of the hoof cast.

8. Repeat with the other hoof and you are done!

Viola! You can tell that the second hoof I did is on the left of this photo. So much neater.

My initial observations were that the casts were a little slippery on long grass. Other than that, it is a 'wait and see' game - I really hope we see a vast improvement in these feet and fast. I will keep you guys updated.

Have you used casts before? Do you have any tips, advice or opinions in relation to hoof casts? Let me know!


  1. Have you seen any of the posts I have done on casts? I've been casting a lot lately and love the stuff!

    1. I haven't - I follow your Pangea blog - has my Google Reader failed me?!

    2. Actually, now that I look back, I haven't really WRITTEN that much about them... just posted some pics with the few times I have casted Pangea. http://the-continental-drift.blogspot.com/search/label/hoof%20care

      BUT I do it pretty regularly with customers - it's a good way to transition horses in the dry Texas climate from shoes to bare. Mushy feet going straight out of shoes onto our rock hard soil is bad news in the summer, and this is an awesome intermediate step. I like the Equisocks much better than the 3M material or the PHW material.. not tried Equicast yet but I've had luck with the Equisocks staying on without glue OR anchors for 6 weeks. They wore out at the toe but they stayed on that long without problems! She also has craploads of heel for it to catch on - might not have stayed on that long with a shorter heel.

      Equisocks: http://www.naturalfarrier.com/products.html Clients love them because they come in pretty colors. I love them because they flex some and they STAY!

  2. Cool! Looking forward to hearing how they go. :)

    Did you look at Renegades? You might have, but just wondering. Because of their design, the length can be adjusted to fit the horse a bit more. Still won't suit very difficult hoofies of course (don't need to tell you).

  3. Wow. How did I miss this post? I have been interested in the casting process. Thank you for the very informative pictures and description. I hope it works out for this horse.