This weekend I attended an equicasting clinic at Greenock Farm Veterinary Hospital in Midland, North Carolina. I became interested in using casts on hooves about a year ago and have been researching the application and usefullness of casts every since.
My inspiration was Caritas, our off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding with four of the most challenging feet I’ve seen in my practice. I’m a believer in barefoot and/or barefoot with the use of hoof boots when needed. Hoof boots are great because the horse gets to take them off when he doesn’t need them. They also reduce concussive forces and don’t create the harmful vibrations that metal shoes do…they don’t need nails, and loosing one won’t mean not being able to show. Plus, if one does fall off, it’s easily reapplied by the horse owner.
Caritas has spent a lot of time in padded hoof boots and they have provided him with much needed comfort and relief. He’s been out of them since early spring and has done well, but still continues to be a little off in his front right. His sole in that side is also dropped a little, and is thin, and he does not grow thick walls, which he needs in order to pull that coffin bone back up into position.
He also has significant bone demineralization in both front coffin bones, but especially the right front.
Neither the “Gloves” nor the “RX” hoof boots would stay on Caritas’ feet, so I had to use epics. Epics are great for riding, but with their clamp system on the front of the boot, I feel that the hoof circulation is impeded somewhat in the toe area, which won’t hurt a thing if used for riding, but for 24 hours of use, day after day, I believe it is a concern. Also, with 24 hours of use, the boots do tend to need a lot of cleaning, reapplying, observation, etc.
So, I’ve been looking at other options for sole protection, and I’m totally excited about the casts and EVA shoes I learned about this weekend. I had casted Caritas’ feet two times before. The last time he wore them for about 4 weeks. The results were good, but I did not pad them., which I think would have been even better.
Last night CG helped me put the EVA shoes on with casts and I was thrilled at how much more comfortable he seemed right away. His head bob went away immediately.
Putting the thick EVA shoe on will help tremendously with circulation to the sole, which should help create more sole thickness. Using the casts to apply the shoes helps stabilize the hoof walls, reducing chatter and damage to the lamaniae, which should help contribute to the growth of thicker, healthier walls. Nails are not needed, so the hoof wall is not subjected to their damaging effects.
Here are a few pictures so you can see what they look like. They are NOT designed for riding. They are mostly used for foundered horses. The casts can be applied without the shoes, with a little reinforcement added at the heels and toes. These can be used for light riding. These are mainly a treatment shoe, meant to be applied only as long as needed.
If I continue to get good results with Caritas and my other guinea pig horses, I will feel comfortable using them in my practice. They are fairly expensive though…a front set is around $120, and a full set of 4 casts/EVA shoes is about $170. (Yes, that includes the trim and application).
Dr. Mike Steward’s EVA Shoes
Equicast/EVA Shoes add unitized stabilization and proper biomechanics to the entire hoof capsule! Equicast and EVA Shoes create a paradigm by providing proper lateral stability, vertical integrity, effective bio-mechanics and pastern alignment. Together they help restore dynamic stimulation to the coronary and solar plexuses as well as efficient loading and unloading of the fetlock essential in restoring healthy aerobic blood to the entire hoof capsule. This is achieved from the banding effect of Equicast and biomechanics of the EVA Shoe. Once integrity has been achieved the enhanced biomechanics should aid in stimulating hoof growth. This paradigm disperses consistent stimulation to the entire coronary band and will reduce structural deformities caused from uneven coronary band stimulation.