Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

Linda Cowles Hoof Care - Serving the greater SF Bay Area and Northern California

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Hoof Soaking Techniques

(see Hoof Soaking Solutions)

Why soak horses feet?

There are many reasons for soaking feet. Hoof soaks are an ideal way to treat abscesses (see Abscess Page for more information), and to treat Thrush, yeast and fungus. Soaks provide relief for bruising and may accelerate healing by increasing circulation.

Soaking feet prior to barefoot trimming expedites the trimming process, making it easier on your trimmer, horse and wallet. Soaking horses feet that are transitioning to barefoot helps displace retained sole and loosens overlaid bars, too.

Its possible to soak feet too often, though, and hard dry feet are much healthier than feet that are regularly soaked feet, so only soak if you have an objective.

How Long To Soak Feet

For soreness or abscessing, soak feet 20 to 30 minutes two or more times a day, if possible, using comfortably hot water.

To soften a hoof for trimming,soak feet 30 minutes to an hour immediately before trimming.

To encourage a hoof to shed retained sole or to loosen overlaid bar, soak feet for 30 minutes to an hour, followed by light exercise such as lunging in a soft sand or dirt paddock. The movement helps separate the softened tissue.

Rug Soak

One way of getting water into your horses feet in arid environments is to lay several layers of old carpet in a depression, soak it in water and place feed in a hanging bag or feeder so that the horse stands on the carpet while it eats. A mud puddle is another alternative, but the drying dirt can remove oils. neither of these options are good for abscesses, thrush, white line disease, but they do work to soften feet before trimming.

Again, water isn't necessary for most feet under almost al conditions! It helps soften the feet for soaking, and helps soften compacted sole that is actively starting to shed (calloused sole is your horses friend so PLEASE don't work hard to remove it!) but 9% of the time, your horses feet get adequate moisture from within. Moisturizers aren't necessary!

Outdoor Hoof Spa, Anyone??

If you have lots of rehabbing horses? Here's another idea; Harvest Moon Ranch boarding facility has two 12x12 stalls that are actually "Hoof Spa's"! They are concrete and have shallow ( 6 inch deep) depressions complete with drains.

Only in Sonoma County, California... ;^)







Soaker Boots

Soaker Boots make soaking abscesses and sore feet simple. most cost between $24 and $28 each.

I suggest that people buy them much larger than they think they should get. For example, my Arab wears a size 1 Epic riding boot, and I use either XL or XXL EasyCare soakers on him! Buy them large!

Davis soakers are great, also, and are a bit easier to get on and off.

Disposable Baby Diaper Soakers

When treating abscesses, disposable Baby diapers work as soakers or compresses. The diaper size a horse needs is the same as their Easy Boot, Epic or Boa size, oddly enough! A horse that wears a Size 0 Easy Boot uses a size 0 baby diaper.

Open the diaper, wrap it around the hoof so the the front of the diaper is on the front of the hoof and fasten it with the diapers adhesive tabs. Make two wraps around the base of the hoof with duct tape,a few strips across the base and then fill the diaper with solution. Diapers stay wet, the horses can move around in the stall and can't completely empty the diaper soaker. Not fool proof, but they work in a pinch.

A size 1 month diaper fits a size 1 ringing boot hoof! I thought that was neat.

Disposable IV Bag or Zip-lock Bag Soakers

I have had a vet friend save used IV bags for me to use as soakers, and they work fine for small to medium sized feet. Cut off one edge, place over hoof and secure loosely around pastern with duct tape, fill with soaking fluid and tighten slightly.

Zip-lock bags work too, but I cover the base with duct tape.

Tarp Soakers

I have done this in a pinch, too. Cut a tarp square that's 3 times the size of your horses foot, stand the horse in the middle of the square, fold the edges up and secure loosely with duct tape.

PLEASE make sure your horse is okay with things on his or her feet before doing this!

To fill, pull one edge away and pour liquid in.

Rubber Sheet Soakers

basically, the same as the Tarp soaker, above. Again, PLEASE make sure your horse is okay with things on his or her feet before doing this!

To fill, pull one edge away and pour liquid in.

Using Riding Boots as Soakers

Riding Boots can be lined with 1 gallon Ziploc Bags to double as soakers.

Don't do this with the old Epics that have the teeth on the sides!


Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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