One of the ideas we see in clinics and articles and in AFA certification is the need to be careful in paring the sole - taking only a minimal amount of sole. In many cases a good wire brushing will clean up the sole enough and no cutting may be necessary. Of course, any areas that look like they may be undermined or likely to be trapping bacteria should be investigated and pared as necessary.
Inevitably you come across thin-soled horses that can use some sole protection. You may even have a bruise in a foot that has good sole but is tender and causing the horse some soreness. In the past a pad was the first choice to treat these cases. The technology today has brought forward some products that can provide another option, particularly for cases where immediate help is needed but pulling the shoes and putting a pad on is not practical.
There is a product from Vettec that offers some good options. Equi-Pak is a clear cushion material that can be put on in a thin application or used to fill the cavity. In both cases the foot prep is the same. This can be done before shoeing but can also be applied if the shoe is on the foot. The urethane material has an adhesive quality that allows it to bond to the sole if you have prepped the foot carefully.
The foot is now ready for the material. If you are going to set the foot down, be certain you have a clean dry surface to put the foot on. You can also put some type of "sock" on the hoof if you have one. At this stage you don't want to get the sole dirty or damp again.
Insert the cartridge (label up) and holding the hoof as level as possible, begin the application. If you have to stop for any reason, remember the material in the tip may set so it's a good idea to have extra tips close at hand. Apply the amount of material you want and wait approximately 60 seconds before setting the foot on the ground. It's that simple. It can be very helpful to have someone help you with the application step as it is often difficult to get the hoof level and do the application by yourself.
Vettec now makes a mesh material that can be applied with the shoe and will give you additional help in making sure the product stays in the foot. Be sure to allow the material to flow through the mesh and fill the cavity. Don't run a light bead across first - it may set prematurely and keep the material from completely filling the cavity.
Dan Haussman, a farrier from Illinois, came up with a very handy method of applying both Equi-Pak and Equi-Build. He uses a foam board available through Vettec (the Vettec Foam Form is easy to apply and seals and supports the Vettec products until set). He keeps these in his truck until he has a job that needs the product. He does the hoof prep and then puts the board on the bottom of the foot (with the shoe on) and sets the foot down so it makes even contact with the shoe. Otherwise the nail heads may hold the board up and you will have material escape. If the area at the back of the hoof is too tight to insert the tip you can drill or punch a small hole the size of the tip in the center of the board before putting it on the foot.
Now with the foot up, apply the material from the back of the hoof or in the hole you have. If you are concerned with the flow out the heel area you can simply build a dam with duct tape. The material that does seep out is easily trimmed after it sets. With this foam board method you can set the foot down almost immediately. This helps give some concavity to the material and keeps it from being flush with the ground surface of the shoe or worse, having it create too much pressure. If you hold the hoof up with this board in place your material will end up flush with the ground surface of the shoe.