Plastic Bag Soaks for Healthy Hooves

By Cindy Kunkel

Dr. Strasser, a veterinarian specializing in hoof care and treatment, emphasizes that water is vital to a healthy hoof and recommends soaking a hoof for 10 to 15 minutes a day. Water prevents the hooves from drying out and keeps them elastic and supple. If you do not have a stream for soaks or your horse has an aversion to buckets, try this method using gallon freezer bags.

1) Double or triple layer the bags for cushioning. Rub the bottom of the outer bag lightly on a rough surface to remove the smoothness and prevent the horse from slipping. You may only need to do this if the outer bag is new. Also, to prevent slipping, you could duct tape a rough tread, such as sand paper, to the bottom of the outer bag.

2) Do not use grease or oils on the hooves while using the Strasser method; they repel the water and negate the benefits of the soaks. Water is all that is necessary for strong healthy hooves. Lift the hoof, then place the layered bag over the hoof. Let the horse put the hoof down.

3) Apply duct tape around the bags at the pastern. (Some people prefer to put the tape on while holding the hoof. Either method works; therefore, you may use the one most comfortable to you.) Apply the duct tape tight enough to prevent the horse from lifting his hoof out of the bag during the soak, but loose enough to add water, as well as not restrict the circulation to the hoof. Three or four fingers can be placed between the bags and the pastern when the duct tape is applied correctly.

4) Using a gallon jug to pour water into the bags is an efficient method. It should take approximately one gallon to fill all four bags above each of the coronet bands. Stick your fingers inside the bags to check that the water level is above the coronet band or fill the bag to the duct tape, which is above the coronet band. Water at this level is important for new growth. This method is also economical for apple cider vinegar soaks. If a horse has an abscess or coffin bone protrusion a mixture of 1/3 apple cider vinegar 2/3 water is recommended.

5) I would recommend cross tying or holding a horse that is new to this idea; however, I usually do soaks with the horse free standing in a rubber matted stall lightly covered with saw dust during morning feeding and have no problems. It is recommended to soak the hooves at least 10-15 minutes daily; however, if you soak slightly longer it will not do harm.

Furthermore, I do not recommend horses wear these while unattended or for an extended period of time.

I find this method clean and easy because if a bag becomes torn, only a small amount of water is spilled. After several uses, I find the outer bag is worn from removing the duct tape and friction; therefore I throw it away. Then I place a new bag inside the remaining bag. This allows for a clean soaking environment.

About the author:

Cindy Kunkel is a horse owner who learned how to do things an easier and better way when her horse Gamby foundered. During conventional treatment and special shoes the coffin bone rotated and the sole dropped. Determined to help her horse when all others seemed to give up on him, Cindy did her own research and found out about the Strasser barefoot trim. It is restoring health, function and soundness to many, many horses with short- and long-term, mild and extremely severe cases of founder and laminitis, in an unlimited number of cases – without shoes.