When our horse’s foot breaks down and conventional methods aren’t working, we start looking for other answers. With advancements in modern technology, the use of “alternative materials” has become more and more successful in helping our horses.
Many materials now available, urethane and acrylic glues, composites (plastics), and resins have more similar hardness and tensile strength (durometer) to horn than metal. This makes these materials ideal for the horse’s foot, especially when the foot is compromised in some way. These alternative materials can be formed into a wide variety of support options: boots, pads, shoes, casts, and more.
Support options vary, depending on the horse’s needs and how permanently the support stays on the foot between trims. Hoof boots are the least permanent and most adjustable between trims. They can be applied with support pads made of neoprene, closed cell foam, or dental impression material, to name a few. If the support needs to be more permanently applied, then many of the same pads can be applied using hoof casting, a high resin content cast that allows the hoof to expand and contract but provides an additional measure of support than the boot. And lastly, if hoof casts and pads are not enough, many composite shoes are available that can be glued on the foot with dental impression material support under the shoe or pour-in packing as needed.
Each of these options allows the hoof care provider to apply orthopedic support to the foot using alternative materials in creative ways. Using these materials, even the most compromised hoof can be supported, the horse will be comfortable during the rehabilitation process, and the new hoof growing in will be healthier over time.
Daisy A. Bicking owns and operates Daisy Haven Farm, Inc., in southeastern Pennsylvania, rehabilitating the equine foot on and off site, specializing in horses with metabolic disorders and laminitis. Daisy has studied a broad spectrum of barefoot trimming styles, composite material applications, and other alternative support options with KC LaPierre, Gene Ovnicek, Monique Craig, Mike Salvoldi, and more. Daisy teaches courses, domestically and abroad, in recognizing tissue distortion of the foot and composite material application. www.DaisyHavenFarm.com