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  • Sole-Guard?

    Has anyone used this stuff? Black goop you put on the sole, flatten and smooth, it dries in a minute, and supposedly bonds up to 3 weeks...so says the ad? I'm skeptical it lasting anywhere near that long in muddy, mucky conditions...but otherwise?

    I have 5 horses that are barefoot, yet any may be used on the trail, albeit very infrequently. My budget doesn't really justify keeping shoes on any, since none are trail ridden on a regular basis. However, I plan on doing more horse camping this year (not with just one particular horse), and with the past two wet years we've had...resulting in soft feet, I know some sort of protection is needed. I'm not big on the Old Mac boots I have. They tend to slip, even on the horse they were fitted for. Tried the inserts, too.

    Just wondering if Sole-Guard really works?
    Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?

  • #2
    I've used it on barefoot horses. I'm a trimmer. The trick is to get the hoof really dry (I use a blow dryer) before applying so that it bonds well. Also, have a few mixing tips on hand--I have to use one per hoof.

    The longest I've got it to stay in is two weeks, until two days into snowy weather. Then it came out. This is on a flat-footed horse.

    Once water gets under the Sole Guard, it starts to pull away from the hoof.

    Until it comes out, though, it works great.
    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


    • #3
      A huge thumbs-up here for Sole Guard! We used it for over 6 months for my thin-soled gelding who went from years of trying barefoot (we really, really tried...) to finally being shod and becoming a VERY happy horse BTW Farrier recommended Sole Guard. Ours always lasted the entire 6-week cycle. Never came out but it was with shoes. We never had any issues - no thrush, no problems. As a matter of fact, his sole thickened unbelievably and became very healthy. I can't say it was the Sole Guard only, but farrier and I were both very pleased. A few cycles ago we tried to go without and he is doing fine, however I would not hesitate to use it again, especially in the dry summer when it gets dry and rocky again.


      • #4
        I was thinking about using it, but it sounds difficult to apply on your own and best with a farrier's help.


        • #5
          It's not that hard, but there is a bit of a learning curve. As with anything, it gets much easier with practice. The first time I used it was on a laminitic mini, and I'm lucky the client had a sense of humor. I've gotten better since then. It stayed on the mini great--she had very deep collateral grooves.

          tpup, is your area dry? We haven't gone more than a few days without rain here all year, so I haven't even tried it since late winter. I don't know anybody locally who has gotten it to stay in for more than a couple of weeks.

          I still like the product, BTW. Great stuff and helped Frank transition to barefoot. He's got one club foot and one low foot--the low foot is the one that needs the protection.
          "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


          • #6
            You're only suposed to use these products right after a trim. The sole is suposed to be pared a little, so you probably should be having you farrier apply it. I could probably apply it myself if I needed to though. Its almost the same as applying caulk. You just gotta let it settle a little, then keep adding some till it covers the hoof as you want it. I go through at least 2-3 tips per shoeing (for two feet.) It starts to set pretty fast, althought it cures in about 1 1/2 minutes.

            Lucky for me the farrier applies it for free, and uses his own gun. The gun is the most expensive part up front ($60) and if you dont like the product you have this extra appliance to get rid of.

            I use equipack. It usually stays on my mares feet for 4 weeks. They just fall off in the pasture and shes bare for two weeks, till she gets reshod. As soon as we get her shoes off in the spring I will be using sole guard, and probably have the farrier come out every three weeks to do a trim (well maybe just bevel edges, my mare dosent grow much in just three weeks) and reapply the sole guard.

            I am a fan of vettec products.

            As far as boots go, keep looking. Not all brands of boots fit the same. Thats really your best bet for keeping your horses comfy long term. Sole gaurd is ment to be used as a transition tool, to get your horse from shoes to barefoot. I dont think its ment to be used long term, because it really dosent stay on that long, when you think about the average time between farrier trims for most barefoot horses.


            • #7
              I love the idea of this, but I haven't had brilliant success with it.

              First of all, it is hard to get on. You need at least three hands and a really strong back. (It makes sense to me that a trimmer found this not too hard to use -- since he's a professional!) It was really hard for me. Though not impossible. So if you're motivated, yes, you can do it. (I ended up with black goop all over me!)

              Secondly, it did not stay on long for me. I'd say I got about a week out of each application. So if your intention was to get barefoot protection for a single trail ride, you're going to love it. If your intention is to replace shoes on a tenderfooted horse, you're going to have to put it on at lease once a week.

              And thirdly, my horse still gimped on gravel. My horse has great barefoot feet, and he's been barefoot for 13 years without a single complication, and I have a terrific natural trimmer. But my horse will still gimp when he hits a rock. And he still did with this product on. So, I wasn't really motivated to keep it on him.

              Love the idea of it though.
              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


              • #8
                Matryoshka, we used Soleguard from March of 09 until 2 trims ago...so November or so? So spring, summer and fall - My farrier has the gun for it, and he does it after trimming and shoeing. He really presses it in covering it with a little pink cellophane square. We then leave the pink thingie on and try to keep him in his stall for 20 mins. or so, so that it "cures" and hardens better before turning him out. Then I peel the pink paper plastic off and turn him out. His never ever came off - not once - we do flatwork and a good amount of trail riding...but I didn't have it on during all this snow, ice, etc. He seems very good at putting it in when I watch him do it. In our case between the shoes and sole guard, I had a new horse - he had thin soles and barefoot just didn't work for us. He was SO happy in it but luckily is fine now without it so I am saving some money - just shoes now.

                I believe the gun might warm it up for easier application? Not sure.


                • #9
                  Ahhh. You used it with shoes. That would make a difference. I've been using it on flat-footed barefoot horses. The ones with concavity rarely need it, and it is hard to get it to stay on the flat-footed guys. The mini who kept it in easily had very deep collateral grooves.

                  I'm glad your horse is doing so much better. Sounds like you have an excellent farrier!
                  "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for the replies. Well, it sounds like the stuff may be worth it, as I would only be using it occasionally...on whichever horse(s) being used. I have a couple that are more flat-footed than the others, so hoping the stuff would stay on long enough for 2-3 days of horse camping.

                    We haven't gone longer than 3 or 4 days without some sort of precipitation in the past year, either. blah.
                    Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?


                    • #11
                      Here's an idea for KSAQHA:

                      Have plain old Easyboots on hand for the trail rides. Unless your horses overreach or the boots are a very poor fit, they stay on well enough. I spray paint them bright colors so I can find them if they pop off.

                      Use Sole Guard for the trail rides as planned, but have spare Easyboots for each horse in your saddle bags. That way if your horse loses the Sole Guard or it isn't enough protection, you can add a boot.

                      Plain old Easyboots are the cheapest boot option and do not rub, unlike boots that go over the coronet. Many tack shops carry plain Easyboots. They are great for horses who measure longer from heel to toe than in width. If your horse habitually hits his heels with the back feet, they are not a good choice.
                      "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                      • #12
                        I use sole guard on my barefoot youngster when I'm planning on ponying him along on some of our more obnoxiously rocky trails here in GA or when I was plannign on showing him on the line at a facility I knew had less than optimal footing (and I can see where it would be very useful to get a good measure), and I've had fairly good success with it. Because I'm using it for a planned ride, I don't really care if it falls out in 10 days and that does happen if we get some mud (and here in GA that is ALL we've had for the last 13 months )

                        Because he's not freshly trimmed, I do clean his feet with a stiff brush and a strong cleaner, let them dry and clean again with denatured alcohol, then thoroughly dry with a hair dryer. It's a little bit of a time consuming pain, but it's worth it. And yes, I can see where it would be a real challenge to apply the first few times. Fortunately I have been applying the equipak stuff seasonally on my other horse for years, so I've perfected that third arm technique. I do live in awe of someone who can do two feet with one tip like my farrier.

                        I bought a tube of the vettec nail-less shoe stuff (blanking on the name right now) to try on the youngster when I start him back under the saddle if and when spring ever arrives (hah!) - has anyone used that stuff yet?
                        Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by matryoshka View Post
                          Plain old Easyboots are the cheapest boot option and do not rub, unlike boots that go over the coronet. Many tack shops carry plain Easyboots. They are great for horses who measure longer from heel to toe than in width. If your horse habitually hits his heels with the back feet, they are not a good choice.
                          Yes, Easyboots could be an option...how many pairs would I need? I've got two that are a little longer from front to back, about the same size foot; two that are less oval, but way different in hoof size; and one who's almost on the verge of being clubby in front. None overreach. I guess I'm just looking for the most economical and practical option for the occasionally trail-ridden horse...and I do appreciate any and all suggestions!
                          Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?


                          • #14
                            Do your horses need protection on all 4 feet, or can they go bare on the hinds? If they can go bare on the hinds, you only need one pair for each horse going on the ride.

                            I've had two horses who needed boots on the hinds for comfort on the trail (both off-the-track TBs), but the others have been okay bare on the hinds even when they need boots on the front. I've also had a few horses who could WTCG across rocks totally bare on all four feet.

                            You could look up your horses' measurements on www.easycareinc.com and see which sizes match up. Then either look for Easyboots locally or shop a cheaper site, like Valley Vet.

                            Before you invest in Sole Guard, a gun, and mixing tips, it makes sense to pick up a pair of Easyboots for the horse you ride the most, and see if you like them. Don't paint 'em unless you plan to keep them. They should be snug and a bit tough to put on. If they slip on easily, they'll come off easily, too. The first couple of times putting them on is a PIA, but easier than putting Sole Guard in.

                            If you find you like them, you won't need the Sole Guard, which is a continued expense as opposed to the purchase price of a pair of boots that will last a long time given the usage you describe.

                            If the L x W measurements work, it shouldn't matter too much if one hoof is a slight club. A steep club can be a problem for any style of boot. A steep club might be better off shod or totally bare (with Sole Guard) than with a boot that turns. One of mine has a slight club, and he does okay in both Easyboots and Old Mac G2's--but the G2's rub his heel a bit and I prefer Easyboot Epics because of that. Every OTTB I've ever owned over-reaches from time to time, so I purchase styles that come with a gaiter, such as Epics. I've had two purbred Arabians who did wonderfully in plain old Easyboots. What a treat!

                            If you decide to go with Easyboots and like them, we can discuss ways to modify the boots if you need a slight adjustment.

                            p.s. The current Easyboot style comes with plastic covers on the teeth (at each end of the heel strap, resting on the quarters), and I leave the cover on. If you purchase an older style on Ebay, the teeth might be exposed and will scratch the hoof wall. This would bother me, but they can be covered with duct tape. The teeth provide grip, but they grip pretty darn well even with the plastic cover.
                            "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                            • #15
                              I've used the Sole guard a couple of times when I knew I would be pushing the horses hard for a couple of weeks. (Hunting season). they are barefoot, no shoes.

                              Fresh trim and cleaned the feet good with a wire brush. Applied the soleguard. I had a friend hold one hoof up while jumped over and did a second horse with the same tip. So I used 4 tips for 8 hooves.

                              For me the stuff stayed in 15 days. but we were riding in very wet rain and snow up a rocky washed out canyon. Horses were standing highlined in camp.

                              Often during the winter months, Vettec offers specials that include a free gun when you buy 6 or 12 tubes of their product.

                              Soleguard protects the sole of the hoof. It doesn't stop pain from pressure points of rocks pushing against flares that put the pressure on the Laminae. So a good barefoot trim is important.


                              • #16
                                That's a good idea. If I recall, one horse who finished in the top 10 at the Biltmore in 2008 had Sole Guard. I had planned to use it on my Arabian for CTR this year, but somebody else will be riding her, so we may go with shoes. There is no way the mare can do 25 miles without protection, and it is a real bummer to lose a boot mid-ride. She'll carry her Easyboots for spares if we go with shoes.

                                I'm thinking that for the use described, if the OP can get away with Easyboots, that would be the most cost-effective solution. This is the choice I've made for my own horses.

                                I really, really like to use Sole Guard for a horse who is coming out of shoes and is uncomfortable in the pasture. Even if it only stays in for two weeks, that is often enough time to get them over the initial ouchy period. It gives them more time to grow some wall and seems to help decontract heels. And it can be reapplied if the horse is still uncomfortable. I'm not a big fan of boots for turnout, so I choose Sole Guard over boots in that situation.

                                For horses who show continued soreness over rocks despite a decent hoof form (concavity, thick enough soles, no flares), check for a crevice in the frog. If there is a crevice instead of a divot between the two sides of the frog, then the horse has thrush or yeast in there, which will cause sensitivity on rocks. I'm not saying this is the problem, but I find that a surprising number of new clients own horses who have had this problem for years, and nobody ever pointed it out to them. It's usually worth mentioning on threads where hoof protection and soreness are brought up, shod or barefoot.
                                "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                                • Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by matryoshka View Post
                                  Do your horses need protection on all 4 feet, or can they go bare on the hinds? If they can go bare on the hinds, you only need one pair for each horse going on the ride..
                                  They could probably get by with just the fronts.
                                  You could look up your horses' measurements on www.easycareinc.com and see which sizes match up. Then either look for Easyboots locally or shop a cheaper site, like Valley Vet..
                                  Thanks for the link. I've never tried Easyboots (can't even think of anyone I know who has), so I'll do some 'research'. Sounds like they would be more convenient than Sole Guard.
                                  If the L x W measurements work, it shouldn't matter too much if one hoof is a slight club. A steep club can be a problem for any style of boot. A steep club might be better off shod or totally bare (with Sole Guard) than with a boot that turns.
                                  I don't think this particular horse has true clubs, but both fronts have a steeper angle than any of my others. (maybe, I'll post a picture sometime, after she's been trimmed, and get opinions...if I dare. )
                                  Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?


                                  • #18
                                    The Easyboot Gloves are the easiest to put on. I suggest you start with them. For the average person, they will last a long time.

                                    For me, I guess I ride to rough of country, I continual lost or damaged the Easyboots I had. I always bring 4 horses. And if I lost or ruined one boot per ride, not only did I mess up the ride with horse that had sore feet, but it cost $25-$30 every ride to replace gaiters or replace lost boots.

                                    I had an easyboot dealer come out and fit my horses with fit kit. So I know the boots fit properly. And if I was to just do a simple trail ride they stay on fine. We ride some rough country and as a result we destroy boots.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by KSAQHA View Post
                                      I don't think this particular horse has true clubs, but both fronts have a steeper angle than any of my others. (maybe, I'll post a picture sometime, after she's been trimmed, and get opinions...if I dare. )
                                      Brave soul! My horse Frank has a slight club, and I don't have a problem with the boots turning. Rubs on the heel bulbs from OM G2's, yes; turning, no. He's also done very well with Sole Guard. Sounds like I use him for experimenting with hoof care, doesn't it? He's presented me with a few hoof challenges and is the kind of horse who does whatever I ask. Great horse.

                                      Good luck, whatever you decide. There are a lot of people here who use Easyboots, and we can hopefully answer any questions. There is also a yahoo group for boot users that can be helpful. If you find you need it, I'll provide the link.
                                      "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."