I have a 12yr old 16.3 OTTB who is running Prelim right now with the scope for more, not to mention he should be running around Inter. by now, but we have one problem, his feet. I have the most AMAZING farrier who helped me take a horse fresh off the track TB with swiss cheese feet to where I am now. It starts every spring when I have to start conditioning outside, he gets bruised up easily so we put the Equi Pak pour in pads in (they look like bright blue sneaker sole gel). That fixes him right up but I still have to be super careful about working him on hard ground. We have xrayed everything and it all comes back clean. So my next question is based on having gotten a smart pak flyer yesterday. I saw a supplement ment to help with sore feet. Has anyone used this or a product like it and what are your thoughts? My farrier isn't to keen on the idea so I thought I might ask for some opinions on here! (On a side note, we have clay so the footing goes from super soft to super hard really quickly. My indoor is a rubber sand mix that he loves and NEVER gets sore on but we do not have an outdoor, just a xcountry course and derby jump field.)
Throw your heart over first....then jump after it!
For whatever it's worth, and I can't say anything about supplements, but my farrier recommended packing my horse's feet with a mixture of betadine and sugar to toughen them up. We've had wet/dry/wet/dry and that seems to have affected the young prince's tender toes. The mixture is a MESS and you need to wrap it, but he is better now - maybe it helped.
In my experience, hoof supplements only do so much, and they are best for improving thin, shelly walls that are tough to hold nails. It sounds like you and your farrier have conquered that; your problem seems to be thin soles that bruise easily (thus the pour pads, right?). Have you had x-rays taken of the feet? How much sole does your horse really have, how much depth between the coffin bone and the ground?
If your horse has decent walls and keeps his shoes on, I'm not sure a hoof supplement will help you. Pour pads are definitely the best thing to protect the sole and a #1 defense against hard ground. My farrier has also used leather pads beneath the shoe to help absorb some concussion-- but that's usually a preventative thing, my mare doesn't have the best feet but she's tough and doesn't become unsound from her foot issues. I use Keratex daily, and Corona (or some hoof oil to shed water) before bathing; this helps keep the nail holes from chipping and cracking as much...but it has nothing to do with sole bruising.
I try to limit the pounding when I can, but around here you just can't avoid hard ground and getting a horse Intermediate+ fit. In the spring, I do some roadwork just to prepare a little bit for the upcoming hard ground in summer. If available and you can afford it, swimming and/or aquatred can substitute for some of your conditioning without the excessive concussion. Personally, I just have to deal with it... and sometimes you have to accept a horse's limits and admit that he may not be sound enough to compete at a certain level when you like. Maybe he can in spring/fall or in another climate (like sandy Florida or Aiken), but perhaps running him in the summer with your conditions is not what his feet can handle. Sadly, there's no magic shoe, supplement, or topical that can make a horse overcome certain genetic limitations. You can nurse him along at a competition with ice, magic cushion, and other pain-relieving packing, but it's hard to get full benefit without ripping the pour pads out and I don't think I'd do that for daily/regular use.
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
? Albert Einstein
Farriers formula, pack his feet every night after work on hard ground (this made a HUGE difference for my guy with rediculously horrible feet). Venice turpentine several times a week helps too. Also, glue ons really made a big difference when my boy's feet were in rough shape- giving the hoof wall time to heal without pounding nails into them helped when his feet were at the worst part of his sucky-feet cycle of doom. They are a pain in the a**, but if done and maintained correctly, can actually last 4-5ish weeks.
No experience with the Smartpak supplement so I can't comment there... good luck! I can fully understand how frustrating it is to maintain an upper level horse with bad feet :-/ My boy with "special" feet is now retired, and I get to bask in the wonder of my new belgian warmblood, who grows enough healthy foot for all 3 of mine combined
Farrier's Formula was what worked best for my thin soled OTTB. He went from being lame for about a week every time he pulled a shoe as a 4 year old, to pretty much just fine if he did it. He, too, spent summers in pads (we changed them around a bit. Not always equipak). I don't know if I would be hot on trying the product you are talking about. It sounds like he is just thin soled and needs to build more sole. Your x-rays should give you an idea of how much sole he has. Farrier's Formula (or any hoof supplement) won't be an instant fix, but if he just needs more hoof, it will, in time, help that.
Since you use equipak, packing your horse's feet after working is not possible. We have the same issue with our Intermediate horse who is about to move up to Advanced. Pick your competitions wisely and don't compete in the summer when the ground is hard as concrete. Always have an equipak and application gun around in case it needs to be replaced. Try to choose competitions where cross country is last so you can give your horse bute afterwards and a couple of days rest before returning to work. Good luck!
Sign me up for the club: my guy (also a TB) has good feet, but thin soles. I've been told by my farrier (who's very good) and others that supplements will improve the quality of the hoof you have, but not give you more of it. Since our problem isn't quality, but thickness of the sole, supps shouldn't help (in theory). 8 months of Farrier's Formula - which I've used with success on other horses - and no difference. Same with painting the soles with a formaldehyde / iodine mix. It makes the soles tough, but he's still sore after shoeing.
I use leather pads with equipak (soft) in front and may need to put pads behind. Hoping to avoid it.
Thanks everyone for the great ideas, Eventingjunkie I do basically everything you mentioned. He only has a few outings a year and they are spring and fall, during the summer he does jumper shows in nice groomed footing. He also has limited schooling on xc (thankfully he doesn't need much). He has been on Calxequin (I think that's how you spell it) for the past year, it has done wonders to grow out nice solid foot, but the problem is thin soles not hoof wall quality (his back feet thankfully are 10x better then his front). I am totally willing to call it on how far he can go with his eventing career, it is worth more to me for him to be comfortable then it is to push him too far. I don't want to throw in the towel yet because he loves his job so much! Keep the good ideas coming!
Throw your heart over first....then jump after it!
I also have the TB with the healthy feet, but thin soles. We had good luck with Equibuild last summer, and it looks like we need to use it again now for another cycle or two. Vet said to use Equibuild, rather than Equipak, to build sole. It works for us, but wondering if others make this distinction between the two types of pour-in. (Sorry if this is a little off-topic!)
I tried the Smartsox, and no difference. A good hoof supplement (for my horse Nimble Mega-nutrient has made the farrier and horse happy). Also, pad year round. He does better keeping the winter popper pads on as these take the pressure off the heel/sole, but that might just be because he has some heel issues.
I have had several TBs with this issue in the past (sore feet, thin soles, requiring pour in pads) and I can tell you what solved things for us - working with my vet and a (different) farrier together to correct the problems.
Those problems (for us) consisted of a negative palmar angle - the back of the coffin bone was lower than the front of the coffin bone, which was compounding the sore heel issue.
So instead of just filling the sole with a pak, we corrected the angles and put the horse in a rocker type of shoe. This has made a huge difference in his sole depth, and in his way of going. I don't need a pour in pad, even on hard ground.
I am not a farrier, and I don't claim to understand all of the actions - but I do wish I had learned earlier about addressing these problems by correcting the mechanics, and not spent years trying to fix it with a traditional flat shoe and pads.