How pour-in pads can prevent and aid hoof issues

Looking for some extra hoof protection for your barefoot horse? Here’s how pour-in pads can help prevent and treat common hoof issues.

As glove provides extra protection to human hands and fingers, pour-in pads serve as a safeguard for both shod and barefoot horses. They can provide solar support to both prevent and aid common hoof issues.

Made of urethane adhesives, pour-in pads bond to the sole of a hoof and produce a soft, resilient supportive pad material. Designed to increase the weight-bearing surface area, these materials alleviate pressure from the hoof wall and allow the sole to take on some of the horse’s weight.

Horse caretakers and farriers can utilize pour-in pads to create extra protection and provide support for preventing and managing hoof issues.

Using pour-in pads for prevention

The hooves support a horse’s whole body. It’s important for horse caretakers to take the necessary steps to prevent potential injury or infection. Pour-in pads can serve as a preventative tool for the following:

Bruising

Using a durable pour-in-pad material can help prevent sole bruising. A horse caretaker may not be able to see bruising until the healing process begins, so it’s crucial to be mindful of the horse’s environment and provide the proper support to avoid injuries or discomfort.

Moisture

To prevent infection or injury in changing climates, horse caretakers can use pour-in pad materials to help maintain optimal sole health. These pads bond to the bottom of a horse’s foot, sealing out moisture and preventing debris from being packed in the foot. Pour-in materials infused with copper sulfate also help to effectively mitigate mild and moderate cases of thrush.

A treatment tool

After suffering from injury or disease, pour-in pads help elevate pressure to make horses more comfortable throughout the healing process. They can serve as an effective component of a treatment plan for the following issues:

Abscess

An abscess, a collection of pus, develops within a hoof due to trauma, excessive pressure, or bruising. After the abscess opens, drains and heals, pour-in pads can be used around the area to support and protect the hoof as it heals. To apply them, hoof care professionals should use Play-Doh or bread to cover the abscess while they pour the pad material. It’s critical that the abscess opening is not covered so it can heal adequately.  

Cracking

When horses distribute their weight unevenly, excessive force and stress on one area of the hoof wall can cause quarter cracks. Pour-in pads serve as a durable material to distribute a horse’s weight across the entire hoof bottom to relieve pressure around a quarter crack. Additional cracking issues arise when moisture levels in the hooves become inconsistent and result in superficial cracks in the hoof wall. If small superficial cracks open up to form larger cracks, pour-in pads keep pressure off the hoof wall and strengthen the hoof. Pads suspend movement and further distribute a horse’s weight evenly throughout the foot to avoid further cracks or lines in cases of both superficial and severe cracking.

Frog atrophy

A contracted frog appears smaller in size and does not come in contact with the ground, indicating atrophy. Pour-in pad materials engage the frog and aid in opening the bulbs within the hoof over a period of time. Fast-setting, soft pad materials that bond directly to the sole and frog stimulate the frog to work and function normally. Pour-in pads help to widen the bulbs and distribute weight evenly throughout the foot during the healing process.

Laminitis

In the event of hoof trauma, blood flow reduction and inflammation can cause partial or total separation of the lamina, forcing the coffin bone to rotate downward. When a horse suffers from laminitis, pour-in pads can reduce the pull occurring on the lamina between the hoof wall and internal structures. Liquid pour-in pads are available with different firmness levels to minimize stress on a variety of hoof capsules. The pad material can be filled to ground level for maximum support and effectively absorb concussion for a faster recovery and a more comfortable horse. In acute cases, different pad applications, such as half pad, can provide tailored support.

Thin soles

If a horse has thin soles, pour-in pads can be a helpful way to regain and maintain sole thickness. After applying a pour-in pad to the sole, hooves have a better chance of retaining thickness and re-growing. Pour-in pads can act as a “fake sole” for the horse, which prevents abrasive ground surfaces from wearing down a horse’s actual sole.

White Line Disease

When bacteria and fungus get trapped within the white line that divides the outside of the hoof wall and the sole, the hoof wall begins to disappear as the anaerobic bacteria eats away the lining. After a hoof wall is resected, pour-in pads support the bottom of the foot to help maintain the plane of the coffin bone due to the loss of hoof wall.

Talk with a farrier or veterinarian about your horse’s soles, and how pour-in pad materials can be a helpful tool for both prevention and treatment plans.

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Tab Pigg is a Certified Journeyman Farrier and Farrier-at-Large for Vettec Inc., a manufacturer of innovative sole support products for horses. In his role at Vettec, Tab leads hands-on clinics throughout the U.S. to teach shoeing and forging techniques to equine owners, farrier and veterinarians. He also visits veterinary and farrier schools exchanging information about hoof anatomy and shoeing and continually deepening his knowledge base. Tab shares his expertise via a popular video and blog series “Two Minutes with Tab” on Vettec.com where he addresses questions and shoeing predicaments from the equine community. Tab began his career shoeing horses in 1983 after he became a Certified Journeyman Farrier. In 2000, Tab became the president of the Texas Professional Farriers Association.