Hoof Casting As A Rehab Tool


Refer to the Epona Rehab page for additional information on casting Epona shoes on.

I use 2" casting material for super small feet, 3" for average feet and 4" for very large feet, and I almost always use the whole roll.

If used alone, casting provides sole protection for between 2 to 6 weeks depending on terrain and how active the horse is. It wears through quickly on most terrain if the horse is actively worked or ridden. Hints on extending the life of the cast are listed below.

I prefer the EquiCast products because they wear better and offer excellent technical and customer support. Equicast has great videos. I use their technique with a few changes, essentially the same approach.

WARNING!

I no longer use casts on actively laminitic hooves as I had a laminitic hoof swell after casting; It's scarey to see this happen, so I now prefer to boot laminitic feet, or the feet of horses that could have a laminitic episode.

The horse this happened on had very dry feet at the time the hoof was cast, and the horse was bathed prior to the foot swelling, so it could have been the moisture that caused the hoof to swell, or mild laminitis and moisture, I'm not sure. There is antidotal evidence that feet that are extremely dry swell when they become saturated (as when a horse is bathed).

I now saturate dry feet prior to casting (hose them top and bottom several times) so that I'm putting the casts on when the feet are at their maximum size.

CASTING

There are several ways this can be done, but here’s the process I use.:

PREP – have this stuff ready to go before you start.

  • An assistant - much easier with a helper the first time!
  • 3” Casting material for an average hoof, 2" for very small, 4" for very large
  • Adhere Glue
  • Hiking type water bottle full of water with nozzle open
  • Cellophane wrapper from U-Haul
  • 12x12 inch 1inch thick sheet of foam rubber
  • Sand if traction is needed on sole.

Process

  • Zigzag Adhere glue on the wall to keep the casts from twisting off http://www.vettec.com/adhere-50cc.html
  • Dry wrap the 3” casting tape running the first two wraps about ½ inch down from the hairline, dropping down to do a few wraps with about half on the top, half on the bottom, and then going back up so that about 2” is on the wall, 1  to 1.5 inch below. Use whole roll, wrapping snuggly but not tight. Do not get it on the coronet or hairline.
  • Fold the edges of the casting material in toward the center of the frog
  • Pour 1/4 bottle of water or more on the cast , particularly on the sole
  • Wrap the cellophane tightly around the cast  5 to 7 times, covering the bottom completely and rising above the coronet band
  • Stand foot on thick foam rubber
  • Pour water liberally in the top of the cellophane covering near the coronet all around the foot, pulling cellophane straight up to encourage water to fill the cast area and completely saturate the cast. I use 1/2 bottle of water per cast.
  • Use your hand to rub the cellophane & smooth out the cast
  • Pick up the opposite hoof to fully load the casted foot and expand the wall & heels slightly, wait a minute and put the hoof down.

I wait a few minutes to let the cast harden, but it doesn't take long, they harden fast!

This process usually leaves about a 1 inch opening in the middle of the cast over the frog in the average hoof.

 

CASTING HINTS & SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS

 

USING ADDITIONAL CASTING MATERIAL TO EXTEND WEAR

To extend rehab wear a few weeks, a second roll of casting tape can be applied to the perimeter of the hoof. This is the cheapest way to make casts last.

  • I cast the first roll normally and let it cure 5 minutes before removing the cellophane and wrapping the second cast.
  • I use 2" casting material for the second wrap
  • I haven't needed to glue the second cast on, I wrap it directly over the first cast.

VETTEC SUPER FAST TO EXTEND WEAR

To extend wear, I use Vet Tec Super Fast http://www.vettec.com/superfast-50cc.html ; run a thick bead around the hoof to make a synthetic “shoe” to protect the cast from wearing. Hold the hoof up until the "shoe" is dry and hard. Let the horse stand on it a minute, then flatten with the fine side of the rasp if needed. This raised ridge gives the cast additional grip on soft surfaces but is slippery on slick or paved surfaces. It extends life 2 to 4 weeks.

GLUE SHOES OR OTHER MATERIALS TO CASTS TO EXTEND WEAR

Once the cast is in place, a shoe can be glued to the bottom to extend wear. I don't like using metal shoes because of the concussion, so I typically will glue on an Epona or similar synthetic shoe. I add a thick bead of Equilox or Epona glue to the base of the shoe, align it on the cast and hold the hoof up until the glue has cured. SuperFast or Adhere will also work.

  • The feet at the left were trimmed by a farrier friend in the Bay Area, Claire Edwards.

  • She and I worked on one of the owners other horses and it was getting late when we saw this draft mares feet, The mare had a history of abscessing, very thin soles and extensive wall separation and flaring.

  • We discussed diet, but it was too late to work on her so Claire, who had helped me cast before, suggested that she come back, cast the mare and glue rubber to the base to extend the casts wear.

  • I set her up with the supplies and she was thrilled to have a chance to experiment.

  • This mares wall attachment was bad and she isn't a shoeing candidate.

  • Her feet are also huge, and we didn't have a shoe to fit plus we wanted something wider and less concussive.

  • And her thin, tender sole needed casting and elevation off the ground on the peripheral edge but we needed to access an injury / abscess vent for cleaning and medication. The sole was accidentally cut into by the prior farrier, and the site turned into an abscess/infection.

    Claire tried to cut up an old tire, and that was too hard, so she salvaged a plastic cutting board instead! I believe she used Adhere for glue.

She cut "shoes" (band saw or jig saw??) out of the cutting boards and drilled holes to allow the glue to come out and provide "glue-nails"... I do this with glue-on boots that horses twist out of, too. We need to see if these "synthetic shoes" stay on and how well they wear... good example of using what you have, though!

This is the process I use to cast and glue on cast protection:

  • Trim the hoof.
  • Clean the hoof up with a rasp and a wire brush
  • Use Adhere on the hoof wall and wrap with dry casting tape, taking it up the wall to just below where the periople starts.
  • Wrap casted hoof snugly with the cello wrap, fold the sole of the cast in over the sole
  • Saturate the sole of the cast with water then fold the cellophane over the sole
  • Have the horse step on a small pillow or piece of foam then have your helper pick up the opposite hoof. Horse only needs to stand on the pillow for 2 minutes
  • Immediately pour water in the top of the cellophane and pull it slightly away from the hoof so that the water saturates the cast.
  • Immediately rub the outside of the cellophane to press the casting wrap together and give it a slick surface
  • Cast the other foot
  • Remove the cellophane from both feet
  • Fit shoes to both casted feet.
  • Dry surface the surface thoroughly with a heat gun immediately before applying glue.
  • Apply Equilox glue to the shoe and a little to the cast where the shoe will go, and align the shoe on the cast and press down… remember to leave the icing patty of glue (don’t press too hard)
  • If the horse needs to work, I would nail the shoe to the cast, use 3 nails on the outside and 1 or 2 on the inside…

 

USE GLUED ON EPONA SHOES CASTED ON WITH CASTING HOOKS

This is a complicated procedure unless you're familiar with hoof casting and gluing on Epona's.

See videos on their site http://www.eponashoe.com/ or order their DVD.

The process uses their casting hooks and casting tape to secure the shoe.

This allows you to secure the Epona without nailing while adding wall support for weak walls. Essentially you prep the foot, glue on an Epona, add the casting hooks and cast over them to secure the shoe.

 

 

 

 

METHODS FOR IMPROVING TRACTION ON ICE AND CLAY

Don't wrap the sole of the cast with plastic wrap when you do this; wet the casting, fold the edges in and smooth them under the edge of the wall and sole with your glove, then set the foot immediately into a 2" deep pile of coarse sand and pick the other foot up for about ~3 to 4 minutes while it sets up… the gravel should embed in the cast to help with traction. You need to get the base flat before setting it down in the sand!

If  more traction is required,use a shoe of Super Fast http://www.vettec.com/superfast-50cc.html to "glue" the sand securely to the cast. Run a thick bead of SuperFast around the hoof to make a synthetic “shoe”, hold it up until it just begins to firm up and immediately place the foot in a pile of coarse sand and pick up the opposite foot for ~2 minutes.

METHODS FOR IMPROVING TRACTION ON ASPHAULT & PAVEMENT

Buy a roll of 1" anti-skid tape in the Marine department of the hardware store, lightly rasp the bottom of the cast, make sure it is completely dry and fasten 3 small (1.5 to 2") strips of the anti-skid tape to the toe and from the quarters to the heel. I heat with a hot air gun and let the horse stand quietly in cross ties for 10 minutes to ensure the strips stick.

KEEP CASTS ON HOOVES WITH STEEP HOOF WALLS!

 

ANCHOR CAST WITH A SUPERFAST LEDGE

If a horse has a steep hoof wall, casts may pull off, so I put a thick zigzag ""worm" of Super Fast http://www.vettec.com/superfast-50cc.html midway up the hoof wall in the quarters and let it dry, then add Vet Tec Adhere to the wall and cast over it. This "worm" helps secure the grip of the cast so it doesn't come off.

GLUELESS ALTERNATIVE #1, ANCHOR CAST WITH SCREWS

If you don't want to buy a glue gun, or have a horse who slips out of casts no matter what you try, one great idea is to screw tiny screws in the heels (TINY 3/8 inch long screws) before casting.

When you cast over the head, the casting material is anchored by the screw head.

Thanks Rick of the Whole Horse Health chat group for reminding me of this! I first heard about it from farrier Dave Richards of EquiCast, the real guru when it comes to casting.

The one time i did this, I used these #4 x 3/8''L Solid Brass Screws, they are super tiny - as short as the word "tiny".  I screwed them in in the heel area in a downward direction at a 45 degree angle, and left the top 1/3 of the screw sticking out. The screw only penetrated the wall by about1/8" depth. I will do this a few more times and will take pictures.

GLUELESS ALTERNATIVE #2, ANCHOR CAST WITH SERRATED FASTENER STRIPS

When I was looking for the correct wood screws to get the size for this article, I decided to look for serrated strip fasteners to see if such a thing existed and found Woodmate 1298 Mr. Grip Furniture Repair Kit

One of our Whole Horse Health chat group members doesn't want to buy an expensive glue gun for casting, and is intimidated by the screw idea, but keeps having trouble with casts sliding off her horses feet within a few days.

These strips are light, flexible 4 inch metal strips that are serrated on front and back, and a package of 8 strips costs $2.75.

I would use two or three strips for each hoof, placing them horizontal to the ground 1/2 way up the hoof wall as I made first wrap with casting material.

 

ADDITIONAL SOLE PROTECTION

If a horse has a thin or tender sole, I may use Sole Guard http://www.vettec.com/sole-guard-50cc.html to fill the open hole. Sole Guard also provides a skid-proof bottom to the cast.

MOISTURE & TEMPERTURE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN GLUING & CASTING 

Because casts set with water, a warmer day would be more pleasant to work in, but temperature & humidity are immaterial for the casting material itself...

Most good glues for this type of work are two-part glues and epoxies, and are very temperature sensitive and also need to be thoroughly mixed in order to harden correctly. They are best at about 60 to 75 degrees F, so I store them in the house and keep on the warm dash in the car prior to using. I turn the defrost and heater on and keep the car running if its super cold. Another option is to use a heating pad set on low when its cold, or keep glues in a small cooler with an ice pack when its hot.

Heat accelerates glue curing significantly. Cool temperatures slow curing to the point where it can take 20 minutes for them to harden.

If you are gluing Epona's or other shoes on casts or feet, the surface of the cast, hoof and shoe need to be very dry; I use a heat gun to insure this. It also needs to be clean, and I use Acetone to remove oils and dirt.

Its important to remember that if glues get too warm, they set up too fast, and some come out of the cartridge too runny when it's hot. And if the cartridge is cold, glues won’t come out of the tube.

I’ve forgotten to warm tubes and resorted to using a hot air gun, and it works IF you keep the heat gun moving and work slow to ensure that the contents are warmed thoroughly because it can result in the glues having an inconsistent temp throughout the tube.

When gluing shoes on, I eject some of the glue to ensure that the glues are mixing evenly; if you try to be thrifty and use this early glue, it may not harden at all.

Confused?

I offer consulting, "Mentorship" and clinics on using casts and alternative hoof protection, specifically for hoof care professionals (trimmers, farriers and vets) but will also help owners who have to do their own hoof care, Please CONTACT ME for prices and more information.

More pictures to come!