Happy Hoof Pads & Your Horse

HAPPY HOOF Therapeutic Pad System is intended to be used as a system, but can be used individually, depending on how and what they will be used for. The ‘system’ is a complete, tailor-made protocol designed by the HAPPY HOOF COMFORT FOAM team and for each specific horse / foot being worked on or being brought through recovery. There are six different color-coded pad densities, which come in a minimum of two and up to five thicknesses, depending on the pad and its intended purpose. HAPPY HOOF Therapeutic Pad System (here on out known as “The System”) is not intended to be the ‘cure’ for founder or navicular, but is an essential component to providing comfort and / or support during the recovery period. As with virtually all hoof problems and ailments, the primary key component to achieving sound, healthy feet is a proper, well-balanced trim. Pads are intended and designed to assist the trim with the comfort, support and recovery effort. The System pads may be used one pad at a time or stuck together to create a myriad of pad combinations ranging from a single ¼” pad up to a single pad or combination of pads equaling 1”. Stacking anything more than 1” and the horse will struggle to ‘find the ground’ and the pads will then defeat their purpose. If the horse cannot feel as though he’s standing on soft, but firm ground, he will not appreciate the pads and will avoid them if at all possible. Pad combinations should therefore be kept to a maximum thickness of 1”. With the exception of using the founder pads, which have a very specific function and during and for a very specific period of time during the initial treatment of laminitis or founder, the pads are designed for ease of use and the horse is allowed to determine which pad(s) feels best at that given moment in time. The softer pads provide a cottony, cloud-like comfort, but compress and conform more readily. However, even when compressed and conformed, they perform a vital, very desirable function. Pads should not have to be replaced multiple times a day. Even the softest of The System pads should provide at least a day or two of comfort; yet, they will last longer once the horse has become stabilized and more balanced. To reiterate, The System pads are a comfort and pain management system, not a cure all! The pads are designed to be used in conjunction with a proper, well-balanced trim protocol, preferably one approved by the HHTPS Team, but can also be used in conjunction with many of the other protocols available today.

The System pads are used for more than just navicular, laminitis or founder; they are also great for cushioning the feet, bones, joints and muscles of virtually any horse being transported for any distance. The System pads are good options for old or arthritic horses. The foam rubber pads are able to cushion the jolting concussion as the horse walks, and are also able to provide a softer surface to stand on for those older horses that just refuse to lay down to take a load off their feet. The System pads are useful for providing comfort to horses suffering from an abscess. It’s very easy to modify the pads so that the foam can cushion and support the sole of the foot everywhere but where an abscess site is detected. In that case, it’s easy to cut out a hole where the abscess is located so that no pressure is placed on that soft, tender sore spot. In fact, The System pads, due to their resilient nature, are able to apply pressure to all of the sole and, in effect, provide negative pressure over the abscess spot to allow for quicker movement of the abscess fluid to allow the fluid to drain quicker.

The System pads can be duct taped in place, but they are best used with any number of huggers, slippers or riding boots. Any boot used for the purpose of holding the pads will likely need to be one size larger than the horse’s foot size. This way, there will be room in the boots for both the pads and the foot. (Note: be sure to have a good, proper, well-balanced trim before taking the measurements of the feet, as the trim will likely affect the measurement outcome. If boots are ordered before a major trim, the boots will be too big after the trim.)

The System pads can be used in conjunction with shoes, however, only the ¼” pads are recommended with shoes, and preferably only when a horse owner deems that they have no option of removing shoes to allow the feet to begin functioning and rebuilding. The System pads are intended to provide the maximum range of artificial stimulation to the sole, frog and bars of each foot, as well as the internal structures of the hoof capsule. Comfort and support are the primary purpose of The System pads.

The System pads are great in aiding a horse while transitioning the horse from shoes. No horse should be expected to simply go straight from shoes to normal activity barefoot. Many people can’t go straight from shoes to any surface or activity being freshly out of shoes and a horse shouldn’t be expected to either. But if a transition period is allowed and there is some logic and common sense to how the transition takes place, then a horse will be able to transition. This is all relative to how long the horse has been in shoes, how badly deteriorated the feet have become and how much damage has taken place, but the horse can transition back none the less. It’s simply a matter of time, common sense and empathetic understanding. This is where boots and The System pads can help. They will each allow the feet to be protected at the times they are needed most and the pads help with circulation, stimulation, comfort and support. They are not to be left on forever, but they may be helpful more in the beginning of the transition / rehab period and should be used less and less, in affect weaning the horse off of the pads, as time goes on.

The System pads are easily trimmed to shape with scissors, a razor knife or a bread knife. They can be ordered in standard American horseshoe sizes. If a shoe size is not known, measurements of the feet can be taken and provided to the folks at Happy Hoof and the appropriate sized pads can be shipped. It’s usually best if the pads are ordered one size larger than the shoe size so there is plenty of room for making alterations to the pads or they fit inside any number of boots or slippers snugly.

The System pads are the ONLY comfort / support system of it’s kind on the market today and Happy Hoof is the only company designed with a Technical Support Team to help the horse owner determine what to use, when to use and how to use the Happy Hoof Therapeutic Pad System. Having said that, except when specific support is necessary for a specific purpose, such as when using the founder pads or sinker pads, the best one to help with determining the optimum comfort is the horse. The pads are capable of being moved and manipulated by the horse in order to move pressure from one point of the foot or move the pads to a certain point help create a certain amount of support while being comforted. The horse is able to do this best when the pads are used inside of a boot or slipper, but if taped on properly using duct tape, the horse is still able to move the pads just enough to optimize his need for comfort. We humans are only able to guess at which pads should work for a given situation based on previous use and experience (along with a bit of guess work), but the horse is able to further refine the decision by testing one pad or combination of pads against another pad or combination of pads. By allowing the horse to simply stand on one pad, then testing another, then another, the horse will quickly indicate which pad(s) he likes, and which one(s) he dislikes. When the pad that feels best to him is placed under the desired foot, the horse will ‘sink’ his weight into that foot and will relax his body as best he can. Once the horse has chosen a pad, it’s usually difficult to take the pad away from the horse so that it can be placed in a boot or slipper. Once he finds that nice comfort point, he’s not too cooperative to give it up. This is truly a funny process to watch happen. But, if the horse doesn’t like a certain pad at that given point in time, he will not bear weight on that foot, he will kick out the pad or he may even move his body so that he can avoid that pad. It’s not comfortable; therefore, he won’t want to stand on it. This in no way means that this pad cannot or will not be used at some point in the future. Each pad will have different affects on the horse throughout different intervals of the recovery process. This is why there are so many pads to choose from. Without the variety of pads to choose from, it is extremely difficult to provide the exact or optimum comfort and / or support throughout the rehab or recovery process.

How does the horse move the pads in the boots or when taped on the feet? Good question. It is as if the horse grows toes for just that moment in time when he needs to move the pad. In reality, the horse uses torque and movement to shift the pad. He will twist a foot while it’s on the ground to move the pad bit by bit until the pad is moved to just the right position. Once that perfect position is found, he won’t move it again until his foot has changed enough to where that pad is no longer necessary or until that pad is no longer able to provide enough resilience to do it’s necessary job. When that happens, the horse will appear sore again or he will move the pad completely from under the foot. You may then try putting a fresh pad of the same color and density under the foot and see if the horse still wants that pad set up. If not, he will let you know and you will need to again try different colors and combinations as before.

When a pad is precisely right, the horse will not move the pad(s) at all. They will remain almost perfectly in place throughout their life. “Reading” the pads becomes very important. Understanding where the pads are moved to (or from), where the pressure has been applied to the pad and just how long they remain under the foot are all keys to understanding whether or not the correct pad is in place or whether the correct pad is used, but it requires some modification to provide the optimum comfort or support. Learning how to ‘read’ the pads becomes very important for understanding how to take your horse’s recovery to the next level. But, if you’ll listen to the horse, he will help you help himself quicker.

The Happy Hoof Therapeutic Pad System are like no other pad on the market today.

For technical support on what, how and why to use The System, please contact Kelly Hall at www.happyhoofpads.com at 941-448-9282 or contact Keith Seeley of Professional Farrier Services at 770-312-6909 or visit his web site at www.keithseeley.com.