How do I pack a hoof?
There are many reasons you may need to pack a hoof. You could have a missing shoe (always fun if you need to go find it. In the big pasture.). You could also have an abcess, stone bruise, or your horse worked quite hard on bad footing, or just has sore feet for whatever reason. Be sure that you involve your Veterinarian asap with any hoof injuries, you want to rule out the really bad stuff like laminitis. And, involving your Veterinarian early helps everyone if it is something horrible like laminitis. For more on what laminitis looks like, read this gem.
The easiest way to pack a hoof is to have all things you need close by before you start. An extra set of hands may help you also, especially if your Mr. Ed is reallly Mr. Wiggly.
- Hoof pick with brush
- Diaper or gauze or rolled cotton. If you use a diaper, do NOT use one with a baby in it. I like size 5, fits most hooves, hocks, knees, you name it.
- Duct tape (sometimes...if you have a handy boot, you may be able to skip the duct tape).
- Your packing material (be it ichthammol, magna paste, sugar-dine, or hoof cushion, etc.)
- Disposable gloves
- Perhaps a temporary "boot"
Goop, diaper, boot.
First, clean and brush out the hoof and grooves. The "plan" is to use the diaper to hold the packing material on the hoof. My experience has been that the hoof packing materials do not scoop easily from their container. They also do not smear on the hoof well, or release from your glove well. This is great when you are practically upside down holding a moving leg.
I prepare my diaper by piling in the hoof packing material to the middle of the diaper before you even lift a leg, so that once on the hoof, the tabs go around the hoof and you can sort of close it up. You don't have to be perfect here. The weight of your horse will smear the goo around once you get it secured.
Pick your goop.
So, your diaper/gauze stack/rolled cotton is loaded with your goo of choice. The hoof is clean. Slap it on and there you go. Now grab your duct tape and wrap the hoof around the edge of the hoof. It's very important to leave the coronary band alone, no duct tape applying pressure there. You will likely wrap the front of the hoof diagonally back to the heels and then wide up front again.
Now you should be OK till morning with this packing. It may take you a few tries to figure this out. No worries. You can also then put your diapered hoof into a roomy temporary boot to protect the bottom of the diaper from destruction, which only takes a few steps to happen. If you don't have a temporary boot, fashion a few layers of duct tape to slap on the sole and then a few more layers around the hoof edge.