Using Hoof Boots to Manage Chronic Laminitis

While hoof boots aren’t a permanent solution for chronic laminitis, they can provide customized support and pain relief.
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Despite extensive research into the painful hoof disease laminitis, one thing remains unchanged: There’s little scientific proof that one treatment method works better than another. As a result, veterinarians and farriers must do the best they can with the options available, one of which is the hoof boot.

At the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, Bryan Fraley, DVM, of Fraley Equine Podiatry, an affiliate of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, in Lexington, Kentucky, shared tips on how practitioners can use hoof boots to help manage horses with chronic laminitis.

Laminitis—the separation or failure of laminae, which connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone within—can cause permanent structural changes in a horse’s foot, leading to repeated bouts of disease and lasting lameness. In severe cases the coffin bone in the hoof can sink or rotate downward, potentially even puncturing the sole. Laminitis can cause such severe pain and structural changes in the hooves that euthanasia might be warranted.

“Equine hoof boots have come a long way since the first widely used and commercially successful hoof boot was unveiled in 1970,” Fraley said. “There are now numerous hoof boot manufacturers producing a countless array of boot styles and sizes

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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