Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hoof Cast

While we were at Yellowhammer, Daniel learned a new temporary hoof protection strategy from Guy Buck, an endurance farrier here in the Southeast.

When I saw the pictures and heard about this, I was excited and decided to play with that this winter while my horses are barefoot. I usually play with Easyboots (which are misnamed in my opinion), but this seemed a much better use of my time and money.

So, what is it? Fiberglass casting tape. If you can wrap your horse's hoof with vet wrap, you can wrap with casting tape. There's actually a product out there marketed to horse owners, but there's no need for a special product. Just use the same casting tape your doctor uses to stabilize that broken arm (or thumb or leg or...).

So where do you get such a thing? eBay, of course, where else? You want 2 inch fiberglass casting tape. If you don't care about the color, you get a better price. I paid $2.65 per roll from eBay. One roll is good for one hoof.

So you need to gather your supplies.

  • Your horse, with reasonably clean feet (just knock the dirt off). Doesn't need to be dry. You're going to wet the tape anyway.
  • 1 roll of casting tape per hoof to wrap
  • a pair of disposable gloves
  • a bucket of water
  • a large sponge
  • dog helper is optional (Cammy was visiting while her mom and dad were off on a trip)


Put your gloves on and open the casting tape package.

Take the roll of tape and dunk it in the water. Squeeze it while in the water several times.

Pick up your horse's foot and proceed to wrap. Stay off the heel bulbs and stay below the hair line. Try to keep the thickness even along the bottom of the hoof. I prefer to leave some of the sole exposed rather than close it off completely.

You can use the entire roll but for a smaller hoof, you don't have to use the whole roll.

When you're done wrapping, smooth it all down and set the foot on the sponge on the ground. Doing this will have the sponge push the cast into the foot and form to the horse's foot. Right away make sure the casting tape is off the hair line. If it crept up there, just push it down with your fingers before it hardens. After about a minute, you can remove the sponge.

This is a picture of the first hoof I did after the cast set up. I left the sponge on a little too long. Some of the sponge stuck to the bottom. It's a cheap sponge, so no worries.


Repeat for each foot.

For our first test, I just wrapped Serts' front hooves. His shoes had just been pulled by my farrier.


I left him to run in the pasture. I checked him every day and didn't see an issue. It was super muddy for the first few days and I thought we'd lose the casts, but that was not a problem. The pink casts actually ended up the color of hoof wall. I couldn't tell until I was right by him if he still had his casts! We finally removed the casts after a week to inspect his soles.

These are his hooves with casts just before we removed the casts.


Removing the casts was a challenge. Daniel actually used a small, dull hand saw, but we'll look for something better. A true cast saw would be a bit expensive for this!

Serts' soles looked great. A little dead sole that hadn't had abrasion to remove it, but that's not a problem. The hoof wall on the front had a minor imprint of the casting material, but again, not an issue at all. Serts' feet looked wonderful.



There was very little wear on the casts. Granted, Serts was in a pasture and not ridden, but he did wear them for a week straight.



The next test will be to do some training rides to see how he moves in them and determine the traction on grass and pavement.

Just to be clear, I'm not looking at this as a replacement for metal shoes. I'm looking at this for a spare tire when riding and for temporary riding protection during winter when I like to let the horses run barefoot.

I certainly do like the advantages that would come from this solution. Cheaper than Easyboots, a custom fit every time, lighter than easyboots, and easier to carry on saddle. (And next time I break my arm, I can have somebody cast it until I get to the hospital!)

I still have several tests, but it's certainly an interesting prospect.