There’s an old saying in the horse world that rings true to this day: “No hoof, no horse.” Nothing could be closer to the truth, and when you think about the base for all of your horse activities being a relatively small portion of their body, you have to realize how incredibly important hoof care is to success in the saddle.
As eventers, we particularly have to know about good hoof care and the products that help us keep our horses sound. We don’t get to always choose the footing that we compete on, and cross country galloping can pound on hooves in a way that other disciplines don’t encounter. We complete fitness regimes all year round on different types of ground, and our horses have to hold up to it in order to stay competitive.
My Advanced horse, Nyls du Terroir, has fairly flat soled feet, and so I’m pretty familiar with using different techniques to keep his feet feeling their best. Absorbine Hooflex Magic Cushion hoof packing is by far one of the most popular methods, and for good reason: It works. Throwing on a Magic Cushion wrap for the night after cross country is a super way to help reduce hoof heat and relieve symptoms that come with the hoof concussion and trauma of galloping and jumping at speed and height.
Absorbine Hooflex Magic Cushion was developed by veterinarians and farriers as a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic for the equine athlete. It provides relief from the soreness resulting from the everyday rigors of training, as well as ailments such as laminitis, white line disease, pedal osteitis, abscesses, navicular syndrome, bruising, corns, canker and any concussive trauma to the hoof tissues.
Absorbine conducted a thermal imaging study in 2012 that helped illuminate the beneficial effects of using Hooflex Magic Cushion hoof packing, and it was pretty fascinating. It showed that after only one hour of standing in a Magic Cushion hoof wrap, there was significant decrease in hoof heat, and that the product continues to work for up to 24 hours.
Heat in the hoof is the best way to determine if there has been trauma to the area or to feel if the horse might be a bit sore. Therefore, a product that helps draw out the heat will help in the healing and soothing process, giving you a sounder and happier horse after it all.
If you’re new to the idea of using hoof packing as an additional weapon in your hoof health arsenal, you’re in luck, and you get a step-by-step instruction courtesy of my patient model, Leo.
First thing’s first: You’ll need to gather some supplies. You will want to have a glove, because Magic Cushion is very sticky and can be difficult to get off your fingers, especially when you want to wrap later. Along with that, you should have vet wrap, a diaper (or cotton wrap), duct tape and a piece of brown paper bag (which you can easily cut from a feed bag).
After you clean out the hoof really well, you can grab a good chunk of Absorbine Hooflex Magic Cushion in your gloved hand and work it into the grooves of the hoof. You don’t want to over-pack it, because when the horse puts his foot back down, it will just ooze out the back and sit on the bulbs of the heel and sometimes the skin of the pastern.
I like to pack it a little, making sure that I have a good amount in there without leaving bubbles. At the end, you should have about a half an inch of packing in there, which isn’t too deep at all. After that, it’s time to put the scrap of paper bag on top, which I conveniently cut into a hoof shape so it would be the perfect fit!
This process can seem a little daunting at first, because there are many different layers to be applied, but I assure you that after a few runs, it becomes second nature and only takes a few minutes. After many years of using hoof packing, this is the best method to keep the wrap on the hoof and the product on the horse for a 12 to 24-hour period of time.
If you are just keeping the horse in the stall, you can actually skip all the wrapping and just pack some sawdust on top, and the Magic Cushion is so sticky that it just stays right where it is supposed to! However, if your horse is going to be moving around at all, or is barefoot, wrapping is essential to getting the most out of the product.
I like to use diapers, because they are easy to use, quick to buy in large quantities and have a good amount of cushion to them in case you are protecting a very sore hoof. However, you always want to make sure that you don’t put the diaper directly on the Magic Cushion, as it just soaks up all the good stuff.
You can also use plain cotton wrapping, the kind that comes in a big roll. That also has a great cushion quality to it and is fairly easy to obtain.
After you’ve secured your diaper or cotton roll, it’s time for vet wrap! I usually end up using about three-fourths of a roll, because you have to go all around the bottom a few times and then cover the front of the hoof too. Vet wrap keeps everything steady and in place, as well as keeps dirt and sawdust and other stuff out of your wrap.
When using vet wrap, it’s always important to remember that you don’t want to tighten it over any skin areas. So when you are bringing it up the pastern, be sure to keep it light, so that you don’t cut off any circulation down there. If dislodged or broken, sometimes vet wrap can get really tight and cause issues, but otherwise is a great product.
Finally, to top it all off, give it a good old duct tape cover, which makes it last a lot longer, especially with horses that are wearing shoes. I usually double or triple layer the duct tape on the bottom of the sole, and particularly where the toe is, so that when my horse is walking he doesn’t wear through the wrap.
If you compete in eventing, chances are that at some point you’ll need to alleviate some tenderness of the feet. We gallop across fields throughout all the seasons, over varied terrain and over imposing jumps. These kinds of activities are a blast, but can sometimes cause pain or swelling in your horse’s hooves, which is where hoof packing comes into play.
While Absorbine Hooflex Magic Cushion is used worldwide for top level athletes, it is just as easy and effective for anybody to use at home for a variety of ailments. One has to only seek out the recommendation of a horse person who has tried the product to see that it really is magic for the hooves.