Tuesday, June 9, 2015

In Search of Squishiness - Feet

This post (started back in April and never finished until now) goes hand in hand with the next one on Fergus' lameness. This particular blob deals with attempts to pad boots back in late March/early April. Although it wasn't really in the forefront of my brain, apparently I wanted to get Fergus more comfortable on hard footing. 

Who knew then how important this issue was to become by the end of the May?

Artificial Squishy Feet

Fergus likes easy footing. Most of my horses are seemingly indifferent to what they're trotting on, but with Fergus you can really feel the difference when you let him go on softer terrain. Taking him out in the sand results in huge movement, and any soft duff makes him feel filled with energy.

As a result, whenever I've glued on boots for a big ride, he always feels way better than on a normal training ride.

For that reason, this spring I was investigating if I could install some kind of gel pad into his boots for everyday workouts. I talked a little to Larkin at the Adhere Booth at the AERC Convention in March and he recommended three possible "weights" of "Pak":

Coming up to NV Derby, both Roo and Fergus would be going and doing the 50s each day, so I figured it was a good time to do some experimenting. They were both due for new boots, so I duly purchased the fixings and the prior weekend pft and I put together a big box of boots from glue-on shells, add-on gaiters*, and, in Roo's case, yellow power straps.

(* buying a box of four glue-ons and adding gaiters yourself is by far the cheapest way to keep your horses in boots. Unfortunately, it requires some homework, a certain amount of dexterity and some muscle to get them all put together. Thanks, pft, for being my muscle). 

Box o' boots.
My spiffy new glue-gun. After years of wrestling with my old one that would jam at regular intervals, causing already stressful gluing to become even more stressful, I finally got a replacement at the Convention - and it's a lovely thing

Unfortunately my supplier (Riding Warehouse) were out of my first choice - the blue label standard Equipak, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try the Equipak Soft (pink label). We squirted out pads for Roo's front and back boots, and Fergus' front boots:

Roo front
Roo back (I think)
Fergus front


We poured in these pads on Sunday morning, but unfortunately I was due to ride Fergus that afternoon. The pads were still a little tacky, so I smeared in some vaseline. Unclear why, since I promptly wiped it all out again. Off we all went to Balderston Corrals for a quick 5-6 mile romp with dogs and pft-onna-mtn-bike in tow:

I think we managed to get almost a whole mile before we got to the first hill and Fergus promptly popped off his boot. I hopped off, went back down the hill to retrieve it, stuck it back on, and it came off again. On the return journey, after the boot came off for about the fourth time, I took both front boots off, fearing he was going to rip off a gaiter. 

Verdict: Fail. 

Left and right boots, later that afternoon

I'm unclear if it was because we needed to let the Equi-Pak set up for a lot longer, or if he's just too hard on the material, but it looks like he pretty much scooped out the toes almost immediately, then trashed the rest of the pad. 

My conclusion, for him, at least, was that Equipak Soft is way too soft for him. I may try this experiment with him again, using the blue-label Equipak - and let it set up for a week or so beforehand.


By Thursday, I knew I had to get Roo out to at least try his new squishy soles, to make sure it was going to work. My Facebook entry for that morning:

I'd like to say "Here we are, up early for a relaxed, before-work ride on my mild-mannered, adult horse in the morning sunshine".
But the caption actually reads: "WTF?!? was up with Roo this morning, acting like a stupid idiot half-wit horse with no brain!?".
Came the closest I have in a while to being dumped, while clinging on frantically like a limpet and tweaked my back trying to keep some semblance of control.
But he did give his squishy-soled boots a work out (twisting and turning - the soles stayed intact, so are a go for NV Derby); put me firmly in the "hell no" category for starting Roo on the first loop in his borrowed S-Hack; and concluded that - yes, he really has gone up yet another size in boots all the way around (now size 1 in front, 0.5 in back).

Much more satisfactory - Roo's front and back boots. The packing had deteriorated slightly, but was still doing its job. 

So Roo got to wear Equipak for NV Derby, but since he isn't terribly reactive to footing, I can't say with any conviction whether it made any difference or not. At the end of the 50 miles, the packing looked more ragged than shown above, but was still intact.

Either way, maybe OK for a one-off application, but certainly not going to stand up to regular everyday boot wear, which was the purpose of the exercise.


  1. I just got a new product recommended by Easycare: Glue-U shufil. It comes it a couple different hardness/softness levels. Haven't had a chance to try it (it does use a regular caulk gun, hooray!)

    I've also read some people making a pad out of the sikaflex, but it just seems so sticky. Maybe with some vaseline. Good luck with the challenge, thanks for the report!

  2. We considered sikaflex when we were pouring these Equipak pads, but as you say, very sticky and hard to work with - maybe smoothing it down with saran wrap? but guessing very hard to get a nice even layer, with no high spots.

    I know of people who used sikaflex the same way you do for gluing - by putting it in the bottom of the boot and putting the foot in (no Adhere to glue the sides). They sprayed the underside of the horse's foot with pam to prevent it gluing to the hoof. You have to be diligent about left and right feet, since you're intruding into the collateral grooves. I tried it slightly with Fergus, but didn't feel that his Glove seated properly when I used it the next time around (probably about two weeks later) and it made me nervous that his feet had changed shape and any "not fitting" areas would give him pressure points, so in the end I just asked pft to chisel it all out again.

    Where did you get the Glue-U from? I've seen that, but figured it was more of a putty/squishy type substance that would be ideal for injecting into boots post-application (on horses that are comfortable with that - I'm currently a little leery, due to what the vet said, but can't say for sure either way), but probably not ideal for everyday use/to make a flat pad out of?

    1. I haven't tried the sikaflex yet, it makes me a little nervous, so sticky! I am not the neatest... I ordered the Glue-U shufil in green from www.shopedss.com. My plan (eventually) since it sets up fairly slowly is to instead of drilling holes use a putty knife to spread it all over the hoof, collateral grooves etc, then put my renegade on. I think with the open back of the renegade squirting it in wouldn't work very well.

      Most of the time I don't use any padding. One year after vaccines I had a problem with footsoreness. And also if I'm training later in the season when it is just so rock hard on trails. I experimented with yoga mat, one ride it squishes down and lasts 4-5 rides before it is too destroyed. A couple pictures at the end of this post: