Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why Pad the Hoof?

By:  Robyn La Pierre

Over the two decades, the Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry 
has been successfully aiding horse owners  in the rehabilitation of horses stricken with Deformed Hoof Syndrome (DHS) worldwide.  
We pride ourselves through the constant guidance from KC La Pierre the Institute’s founder and educator, on how quickly and humanely a horse can rebound from lack of structure and lameness.  So what is the secret?  The secret is: there is no secret.  It is commitment and providing the proper environment for that horse, an environment conducive to healing. There are few constants in the realm of rehabilitation.  However, one constant and cushion that horse owners can fall back on (no pun intended), is the use of therapeutic hoof pads, such as those developed at the Institute, the Sole Mate Therapeutic Hoof Pad. Understanding the purpose and theory that these pads represent is the key to any success story.  We receive countless phone calls from clients and horse owners who are struggling with their horse’s rehabilitation, having not utilized the knowledge that has gone into development of these pads.  Sole Mates Therapeutic Hoof pads are meant to be used in conjunction with pinpoint rehabilitation of structure.  For example, if a horse is first out of shoes, we highly recommend identifying each of the hoof’s structures, and where it falls on the Spectrum of Usability (see The Chosen Road, By KC LaPierre).  
This spectrum or wellness chart, will identify pinpoint areas of both weakness and strength.  But more importantly, this form will help in determining how the horse should be used, the level of activity that will produce correct stimulus, while preventing additional trauma.How do these pads work?  The Sole Mate Therapeutic Hoof Padworks in conjunction with the theory that correct pressure is the stimulus for correct growth.  In order to return proper structure that has been lost due to lack of stimulus, “correct” pressure must be applied to the horse’s hoof without causing pin point pressure that may cause pressure necrosis (death of tissue as a result of excessive pressure).  Pain indicates that there is too much pressure, and a good rule of thumb is that pain negates growth.  In many of the cases that we are presented with the horse’s hoof is too short, often having been trimmed below the healthy frog height at the heels.  In order to gain height to the foot, Sole Mates Hoof Pads can be applied creating correct pressure to the heels, bars, walls and sole.
 This pressure is consistent across the entire solar aspect of the hoof capsule with little rebound, this due to the closed-cell formulation that exists within the pad.  A regular foam or rubber pad that has too much rebound (or give), when put into motion with a moving horse, cannot provide consistent and correct support. Even and systematic pressure is what makes the Sole Mate pads unique. Increase in sole depth, hoof height, and frog growth is directly related to the application of correct stimulus.  Correct exercise, working within the boundaries set by an honest assessment with the Spectrum of Usability can greatly improve the rehabilitation of all horse’s hooves.  Without the use of these pads, the progressive next step, a sand arena, may be too harsh for the existing structures, especially if you are dealing with white line stretch, white line disease, or frog infection.  Sand can erode and deteriorate these already sensitive structures, let alone cause irritation to an already deep central sulcus of the frog. Which pads do I choose for my horse?   The Solemates Therapeutic Hoof pads range in three densities: four pound, six pound, and nine pound.  We found it necessary to break down the pad use to less than 1200 pounds for the six, and 1200 pounds and over for the nine. However, if your draft or heavily-boned horse has very weak structure and exhibiting pain, wewould recommend using the six. You may not get as many uses out of the 6 lb pads with a draft horse in that state. However, we don’t want to cause undue stress on the foot either.  So use your best judgment.   The four pound pads are great for that mini horse in your barn, or any acute stages of laminitis.  Why is it so important to specify weight? The pad has a unique characteristic that allows the pads to return to their near natural shape and size after use.  If your horse is heavy or lands excessively in the toe due to caudal heel pain, it will exceed the life of the pad; or rather the pad will not be reusable.  For years, the farrier sciences have been using a styro-foam pad that is supplied from the local lumber yard or Home Depot.  Structural styro-foam is not only not reusable (costly), but crushes down to a hard, stagnant, substance that can cause bruising to the delicate structures (pressure necrosis).  Pressure necrosis is a bruising of the capillaries at the corium level due to excessive force on the foot  Sole Mates Therapeutic Hoof pads have the unique ability to consistently support the foot through the entire stride phase.  Once the Sole Mates pad is removed, the imprint of the foot and hoof are astounding.  The detail in the print much resembles that of a sand imprint on the beach where each intricate structure is delicately etched out.This type of detailed support is what makes the Sole Mate Hoof Pads priceless to anyone practicing hoof care.  Once the structures begin to return to proper conformity, pin pointing additional structures like inner wall or transitioning to sand can be achieved safely.
How long can I leave these pads on?  The Sole Mates Hoof Pads are recommended for hand walking during rehabilitation and should be used daily. Putting the pad in some form of hoof boot can make the rehabilitation process much easier, especially in mud and wet weather. Therapeutic Hoof pads can be left on the foot for up to 72 hours during acute laminitis or until a vet arrives.  Excessive moisture build up will cause the hoof to soften unnecessarily when left on for that long.  We recommend you take the boots off an hour or so to let the hoof and pad dry each day to be safe.  It is also recommended that the hoof be allowed to dry thoroughly in either a stall or isle prior to the application of the pads for an additional 72 hours if needed during your extreme acute stages of founder and laminitis.  Puncture wounds and abscessing are also contenders for the 
use of Sole Mates.   
Do these pads relieve any abscess pain?  It’s not that the pads relieve pain of the abscess, they allow for mobility in a usually painful environment in order to expel the abscess naturally.  Most abscessing is the form of a void in the hoof that is reacting to foreign bodies (necrotic tissue) within that void by providing white blood cells to fight off the infection. Abscesses can re-absorb if not expelled.  By applying the Sole Mates to the bottom of your horse’s foot during an abscess, the horse will be able to be hand walked allowing the abscess to pop.  Without the pads, the horse is in extreme pain due to pressure building within the foot.  This can also cause secondary lameness as the horse is compensating for that painful foot.  You can see now why soaking in Epsom salts is not a good thing during an abscess.  Epsom salts cause excessive drying to the hoof.  So no wonder the abscess gets re-absorbs and returns a few weeks later.  The foot is rock hard and the body cannot expel it naturally. 
What if I have frog trauma and need to either build up or excessively relieve an area that is touching the hoof?  Here is where our Sole Mates pads really step it up in performance.  These pads are uniquely designed so that when heat is applied in the form of a lighter, you can adhere them to each other permanently.  They become one structure with no worry of splitting apart.  This allows you to be able to use different configurations during acute stages of trauma.  You can cut a special wedge out or double up on the pads, by simply applying heat to each side of the pad and sticking them together.  It’s that simple.  Also, the pads are great for beveling out an area with a “roto zip” tool that will relieve an area on the pad so everything but that area is touching the hoof.   It’s so easy to do, and really effective.   As you can see, Sole Mates Therapeutic Hoof Pads serve many purposes.  They are an inexpensive, effective tool for retuning hoof structure during rehabilitation or during extreme trauma to the hoof.  At the Institute, KC La Pierre recommends every barn carry a set of Sole Mates in case of laminitis or trauma. Application of the pads will return an infected frog to a healthy state given the infection has been treated and your environment has been improved.  If you don’t have a healthy frog, it’s almost impossible to return health to any other structure of the hoof. (The Chosen Road, by KC LaPierre 2004).  So be safe and wise, when it comes to rehabilitation.  Proper evaluation of structure and the stimulus needed to return a deformed hoof to health is our ultimate goal.  Sole Mates do that with one thing in mind:  Do No Harm.   

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