Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wisky Update

Please update us on Wisky, if you can. My friend has a colt right now in a serious founder state. She's using the Soft Ride boots and I have a bucket of Sole Pack, which I've wanted to try on him, but you were the first person I've seen that has used it. Did you just pack it around her frog or under the whole sole?


Wisky at home and post trim pictures of her two front feet.

Hi Michelle,

These are the most recent pictures of Wisky at home. Ann, her new trimmer, is working on her now and is diligent about keeping me posted on her progress.

Honestly, she isn't moving very well right now as she's in a great deal of pain in one front. But we're hoping she working on festering out another abscess and this pain will pass.

As for the Hawthorne Sole Pack: yes, when she was here, I pressed it in all around her frogs.  I will cover the entire bottom of their foot with it sometimes under pads and casts, or boots. In boots, you may want to wrap the foot first with vet wrap as feed that that I'm hearing is that it can get slippery and cause the boots to shift.

Also, it will turn the hoof, boots pads or whatever it comes in contact with black. Not a problem for the hoof, it just doesn't look good for a little while.

Whenever I see any separation in the hoofwall, I always pack the crevices with the packing material, so the wall is packed with that, rather than dirt and small rocks.

I've seen HSP work wonders on hooves in a very short time!

I used it on a pretty severely foundered gelding a over a month ago, a T-walker that foundered 2 years ago and attempts to help him with shoes and pads failed. I was called in, but his owner couldn't give me much time to get him back before considering euthanasia, as she'd been through so much with him already.

I trimmed him and packed his feet with HSP and booted him. The sole pack wasn't left in his foot long though because it was slippery and caused the boots to shift around so the owner removed it.

Even so, he's moving really well now and it's only been 3 trims spaced about 5 weeks apart. That's longer than I normally like to go when I'm first transitioning a horse, but many owners are accustomed to farrier schedules and we get what we get. His owner can see the obvious progress so he gets a new lease on life. He's even trotting around his pasture now. I'm thrilled!

I'm also working on a mare who has been abscessing severely for a couple years and again, the work to rehab her was done with shoes and pads and same story. After a few trims, she is improving. Her owner let her go to a new home as she couldn't afford to feed a horse that was not sound, but I think the horse's new situation will turn out to be a win-win-win for all involved.

So, to be sure, we can't save them all, but we can sure save most of them if we can just get them out of the dang shoes. And we have even better luck if foundered or abscessing horse never go into shoes in the first place. But we can't change that until we change traditional therapies for horse hooves.

I may be going to see Wisky soon. So I'll be able to better update.

Thank you for your interest and if there is any else I can do to help in your situation. Please feel free to let me know.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great response. Most inspiring. My girlfriend is has been on the edge of euthenasia with this colt as she is constantly trying to decide what is best for this horse - end his suffering or keep trying to save him. He was doing better a week ago and seemed to regress. His xrays did show many abscess pockets lurking. When they regress like this, is this most likely the culprit? Do you try to soak with epsom salts to draw it out? I used to do this on one of my horses, who would get an occasional abscess and it would seem to work. Should we try it with this foundering colt? Also, we have no idea of actually how long it takes to get them comfortable - a couple of months? 4 months? 6 months? What has been your experience? You said that 3 trims, 5 weeks apart for the one horse in your comment. Is this about average? We are doing everything we can think of. She is getting a load of pea gravel in for him to stand in, which will benefit when he's not in the boots. We look forward to your response! Michelle

Pat said...


I firmly believe that abscessing is a trimming issue. Unless a hoof has foundered the laminae dies, which sets the hoof up for abscesses.

But if a horse starts out with a healthy foot let's say. Tight laminae, healthy angles, no flare.

And that horse gets into a bag of grain. He my colic, but he likely won't founder.

It's my opinion that a truely healthy hoof can pretty much withstand everything that is thrown at it.

But if the horse starts out with poor trimming, flare, separated white line, etc and gets into the bag of grain or onto rich spring pasture grass, its hooves are already setup to fail. And they will.

The horse colics, then founders.

I can explain what causes founder, but I may have done that on the hoofrecovery blog. And it's kind of involved. But suffice it to say, when the blood becomes toxic with the bacteria that reproduces faster than normal and then circulates through the laminae in the hoof capsule causing the laminae to become inflamed and excruciatingly painful...that's founder.

Once a hoof has foundered, it will sometimes abscess and that abscess involves all the laminae encapsulating the coffin bone.

The laminae if the entire hoof capsule is damaged and like a blood blister around the coffin bone in the hoof now.

So what do I do, trim correctly, boot with the soft rides, offer bute when the pain is at its worst, keep the horse as comfortable as possible and grow out a brand new hoof. Figure on a year of rehabilitation. And another year bofore the horse is completely sound again on a hoof that abcesses to that degree.

There is a post on the hoof recovery blog about Danny's abscess. I learned about about abscesses with his experience.

I'll have to go back and read that post is see if I still agree with some of the things I say on it, because I might not.

With an abscess that starts in the bar, I've seen poultices help draw them back down if you can catch them in time. But the soaking doesn't do much really except keep the hoof softer so maybe the abscess isn't as painful.

But I've learned that a hoof with a very soft sole, is not a happy hoof even without an abscess.

I've learned that transitioning a horse from shoes to barefoot in the winter when it's really wet all the time, is probably the most difficult time to try it.

Hard hooves stand up to more abrasion and heal faster than soft hooves do.

Hope this helps some.

Pat said...


One more note. The more often I can work on the hooves, the faster they heal up. I prefer to work on a foundered hoof every 2 weeks if I can. You may not be able to trim much off, but that's the point. Keeping the hooves at their best place as possible continually when rehabbing.

Michelle said...

Thank you, Pat. I will pass this along.

Michelle said...

When my friend bought this 2 yr old, he had front shoes on (breeders were showing him in halter) and his feet were incredibly overgrown. His soles were right down to the ground in this long hoof capsule
He came down with Potomac in late September. Yes, he had been vaccinated. The Potomac bacteria caused the laminitis in hooves that were already compromised.

Oh, and I also wanted to say that my Tn Walker that used to get the abscesses, no longer gets them with the barefoot trim.

Pat said...

Hi Michelle,

I hope your friend can pull her horse through this. He's only 2 years old so he's got that going for him. Please let me know how it goes? Where are you located?

I'm so glad your horse is doing well.

I talked to Wisky's trimmer today and it's not looking good for her. Unless we can convince her owner to have some work done on her teeth and get new xrays of her feet, which still may not save her, we're thinking that keeping her going may just be causing her to endure pain that isn't going to get better.

Sadly, we can't save them all. I think we could save 90 percent of them if owners would call us in sooner than they do. We are typically the last resort after years of failing miserably with traditional methods, but all we can do to change that is keep doing what we are doing and saving the ones we can.


sahara4d said...

How sad for Whisky. To have been in pain for so long with the funky shoeing and to still be in pain now. It's hard to tell if this is just healing/transition pain that will get better in time or if it's too late for her...what a hard decision to make. I know that the owner has spent a lot of money on this horse and maybe if a little more is spent then it may show if she can be helped or if it is best to let her go. I think that if it was my horse then I would have to put in the extra to know for sure, otherwise I would always wonder.
Warm hugs to both Whisky and her owner for all that they have been through. Desiree

Pat said...

I agree, Desiree,

I would need to know I tried everything before I let her go. She's a young horse and she didn't ask for this situation.

It only takes one sale to determine the fate of a horse. Some have it pretty good, some don't.


Michelle said...

I am in Michigan. There are barefoot trimmers here, but my friend has been torn between what the vet tells her to do vs the barefoot way. The vet said to put backward shoes on him to support the heel. I didn't like this, but this was not my horse. This obviously was not helping him. My barefoot trimmer was so busy he was not taking on new clients, so she was leaning towards putting him down. I directed her to the Corona Vista Equine Center website. They are about an hour from us. She wrote to them and Tara immediately responded and said that she and Dr Robert Bowker will be out to her farm and see the colt! I was floored! Dr Bowker? Coming here? "THE" Dr Bowker? Sure enough. They came from MSU. We had a small group of groupies assembled. Tara gave him a small heel trim and left the soft ride boots for her to use on him. They do not like to use the Soft Ride pads, however. They came with this large sheet of foam and cut out pads to fit in the boots. They gave us each a sample of this foam and told us to try to find something like it. Dr. Bowker said the pad should feel like something that would be comfortable for us to walk on. The piece they had was from a company that Dr Bowker had found, but shortly after, went out of business.

They talked and stayed for 2 1/2 hours. They came out a week later to take xrays.(the colt's second set) It took Dr Bowker a week to look at the xrays. He's a very busy man! But, when he contacted my friend, he said there was improvement.

They want to come out again in a month or so. So, he's had the best of the best looking after him. My friend has been on the fence about this barefoot thing and problems arise when Tara/Bowker tell her one thing and the regular vet tells her another. Neither one of us has seen a horse in the throws of laminitis, so we are looking to everyone for an idea as to how he should be progressing. She has spent a lot of money on fixing this guy and over the past 2 months he has been in a lot of pain. We don't want to quit on him before trying everything to help him. But, like Wisky, how do you tell when that point has arrived? I've grown quite attached to the little guy. It's heartbreaking.

Well, I could go on and on. Thank you for your time and information. I love your website. Michelle

Pat said...

Michelle! That's exciting stuff. Thank you for sharing. Please keep us posted on the this story.

I've met Bob Bowker. He IS amazing. He IS the most knowledgeable person on the planet about hoof anatomy. How amazing that he found time for this horse.

If anyone can fix him, Bowker can. Good job getting him on the case!

It's really no surprise that his suggestions conflict with most vets. He's done the researcha and has found that Vet schools have got it 90% of it backwards regarding equine hooves.

I once attended a vet/farrier roundtable and the guest speaker was from a local college of vet medicine and even I knew more than he did about treating issues like laminitis. The information he was spewing was gospel to those farriers. Other vets were there and their bragged about their treatment suggestion: shoes, pads, stall rest, blah blah blah, which over time has been crippling horses for years.

It's not uncommon to get these horses moving around well barefoot within a few months time. With no shoes, pads, or stall confinement.

Anyway, yes, what a story. You should start a blog on this case! Would love to link to it.


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