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D.E. Hoof Taps for Barefoot Horses - UPDATE!

Every now and then something new comes on the market that really makes hoof geeks sit up and take notice. These little hoof taps do just that! This second installment follows on from our first article here which outlines what these taps can do to help the equine podiatrist, barefoot trimmer, or farrier improve the health and performance of the barefoot horse, particularly where there is a lack of stability and structure.

Use of Hoof Taps have helped create stability and structure in a horse suspected of having EDO

Hoof taps help provide stability and develop structure

Daffy; the horse featured in both Hoof Tap posts we believe suffers from EDO which is in essence chronic founder. We have yet to fully understand what triggers a loss of homeostasis and give rise to episodes of inflammation in this particular horse, but we seem to making head-way on this (more on Daffy's story another time!) The comparison photos below show a photo taken post trim as featured in our first Hoof Tap post (using HPT method used in AEP - click here for more details) and a photo taken around 8 weeks later and 3 weeks post trim. Daffy does self trim to some extend when turnout out periodically on a mixed surface turnout area - he is currently off grass until his system is more balanced.

Before (left) and after 8 weeks of regular use of Hoof Taps (right)

In adopting the Spectrum of Usability, I can assess his structures and provide a spectrum of usability score which indicates his hoof heath, what level of performance he may be capable of and helps me understand changes to his foot and hoof health. It also helps me provide recommendations to the owner to help improve and maintain his hoof health and protect the horse from harm from inappropriate stimulus. More on Spectrums in another post!

So, previous to using the Hoof Taps, Daffy's weak caudal foot and hoof structures and gait demonstrated a spectrum score of about 3/10. This is due to the underlying condition which is systemic in nature. As a result the foot and hoof lacks structure and therefore stability and a lowered ability to effectively deal with energy in the foot. In these circumstances, unhealthy stimulus can be transmitted to soft tissues via excessive distortion of the hoof and foot during movement and this can cause inflammation and pain. Daffy's spectrum score has increased by almost a point and is now a weak 4/10 - within a consistent environment over the past 8 weeks! He is developing a healthier frog with greater mass and height, a thicker sole, thicker walls and his posture indicates he is more comfortable and moving better.

His chronic hoof crack is still visible but it is beginning to knit together at the top of the hoof wall. We suspect there is permanent damage to the tubules which grow the hoof wall so there may always be a fine line, however we have noticed there is less infection and therefore greater hoof matter at ground surface; further indicating improved stability and healthier structures.

How do they work and do we recommend them?

Simply put; the Taps help bind section of tubules together above the problem area and provide the stimulus to help stabilize the hoof wall and encourage healthy growth. Furthermore, they do not interfere with foot function and facilitate a return to health and performance.

It is my conclusion that within a holistic hoof care approach, D.E Hoof Taps have proven an effective tool to be used to help provide the stimulus for the development of structures in the foot and hoof. Therefore I am of the opinion that D.E. Hoof Taps can improve functionality and ultimately performance of the barefoot domestic horse.

According to; hoof taps were tested in the farrier school at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in New York, where instructor Steve Kraus, CJF described D.E hoof taps as

“a less costly way to keep barefoot hooves from falling apart, or to help grow out cracks.”

Check out a video showing Steve Kraus CJF demonstrating use of Hoof Taps HERE.

In addition, they can help replace hoof boots, hoof wear, shoes and other solutions to prevent against excessive wear and help control distortion precisely where it is needed. A horse can wear one or several taps and they are inexpensive; certainly when compared to other appliances and solutions to common hoof problems such as, low or under-run heels, wall separations and excessive or uneven wear. They need to be fitted by a suitably qualified hoof care professional and can be purchased from and other suppliers.

Some facts about D.E. hoof taps

  • each tap has an anti-bacterial coating and three shallow anchors and is 1.25 inches in length

  • placed into the outer wall, the taps control distortion in the tubules - creating proper stimulus for stability

  • the taps encourage tighter new wall growth and healthier white line

  • the taps can be placed in the quarters, the toe and forward of the seat of corn

  • they are practically invisible once fitted and only promote healthy foot function

  • they may be covered by any kind of shoe, glue-ons, hoof wear or boots

  • they can be left uncovered in the barefoot horse

  • they may help the transitioning horse go barefoot

  • taps may be a viable option to shoes or other appliance

D.E. hoof tap

What problems or conditions may be helped by hoof taps?

  • they can help in the treatment of young club footed horses

  • when used forward of the seat of corn they can help prevent migration

  • as a result of improved stability they may help with conditions such as navicular syndrome or EDO where unhealthy distortion is an issue

  • when used behind break-over they can prevent wall separation

  • where there is infection or loss of tissue creating loss of stability/excess distortion

  • by preventing uneven and excessive wear, they can help with balance issues and loss of performance

  • traction may be improved in certain conditions

Further reading can be found at and

If you would like to discuss D.E. hoof taps for your horse, contact your hoof care professional.

Holistic Reflections provide Applied Equine Podiatry (AEP) consultations. If you would like to learn more about our top quality holistic hoof care services, would like to maintain or improve your horses performance or would like to book an AEP consult with Beccy, please feel free to contact us today!

We also welcome feedback or comments so please feel free to leave a message.

Warmest well wishes,

Beccy Smith BSc(Hons) EBW DAEP

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