Finally! The post about the Sure Foot® pads. I know, I’ve kept you all waiting on pins and needles! I wanted to have some time to use them… to see if there would be any changes worth blogging about and may I say WOW! Definitely changes worth blogging about!
Here is a little blurb about the Sure Foot® pads from their website:
A unique, innovative way for the horse to be his own teacher. Developed by Wendy Murdoch, this revolutionary way of improving your horse’s balance, confidence, movement and performance shows that the horse is always present and ready to learn if we can only find ways to access his intelligence. This approach allows the horse to experience his own habitual patterns of movement and provides the horse with an opportunity to explore and learn new ways of standing on his feet and utilizing the ground for greater ease, comfort and confidence. -Sure Foot® | The Murdoch Method
I wanted to try these first because of Bonnie’s laminitis and second because Sky has been ouchie on the road even with boots on. Sky has been acting off for about 2 months and I couldn’t pin point any reason for her to be! I’ve been keeping all the horses off the grass — except for the night of the 4th of July. Sky got spooked by the fireworks and busted through the electric fence, breaking several insulators, putting Sky, Captain and Zorro in the middle of track where all the grass is, all. night. long. Sigh. Sometimes I feel like they are trying to kill themselves. Anyway, I ruled out laminitis because she is eating low sugar/low starch hay and is not on grass. I figured the Sure Foot® pads wouldn’t hurt and maybe they would help! (I decided on the Soft pads after Wendy suggested them because of Bonnie’s laminitis. Both girls have been wearing boots with pads in them so the idea of a springy surface didn’t bother them at all…)
One of the things that intrigued me about them was the idea that the pads help horses have a new connection with the earth. They can find a new way to stand and move.
With SURE FOOT®, using a variety of stability and balance pads, horses discover how they are habitually standing. The pad gives under the horses’s weight bringing his attention to where he is placing his feet and providing new information to the balancing part of his nervous system. With this awareness the horse explores, shifts and alters his habitual patterns of standing and moving by himself, ultimately choosing a more secure and effective way to stand and move. The horse retrains himself to stand better without human interference. -Sure Foot® – The Murdoch Method
I figured this would help Bonnie as well. While I know her soles are very thin and her coffin bone is rotated, I have been working diligently on the angles of her heel and toe to help alleviate pressure. However she was not changing how she moved very much. I wanted to try this thinking she may be conditioned to walk very carefully and be extremely lame. Whether that is true or not, since I started using the pads, Bonnie will now gallop around the track, bucking and rearing and racing. She is walking out completely normally when booted and has even started going without boots for several hours a day. She walks carefully when ‘barefoot’ but is not getting sore footed at all!
Another thing is Sky has been very spooky, barn sour and buddy sour and kind of a stinker when driving. This last month has been absolutely crazy for me and I haven’t been able to get her out much, except to brush her, file her feet a bit and put her on the Sure Foot® pads. She is a bit funny about her feet so she wouldn’t stand on the pads for more than a few seconds at first. And I quickly found that she only liked to stand on one pad at a time. (Bonnie will put both her front feet on one pad!)
It took a lot of putting her foot on the pad, having her step off, me taking her for a walk about, then putting her other foot on the pad, having her step off, me taking her for a walk about, then putting her other foot on the pad, having her step off, me taking her for a walk about… Sigh. Finally on the second or third day of the pads, I put her foot on the pad and she sighed, dropped her head, licked and chewed and set to swaying. She spent quite a few minutes on the pad before stepping off and when she stepped off she gave a big sigh and YAWNED. Beautiful!
She has been using the Sure Foot® pads for about 2 weeks 3-4 times a week and when I was able to start driving her again on Friday, last week, she was a different horse mentally! I am totally amazed at how much calmer she is. She is more forward when driving. She offers the canter and can hold her beautiful extended trot for longer and longer periods. She is also starting to fall into her extended trot more readily.
In addition to reprogramming the balancing portion of the brain there is obviously an affect on the instinctive part of the brain. While it cannot be fully explained there is a calming effect, shifting the horse from the fight & flight reaction or sympathetic autonomic nervous system (ANS) response to the grazing or parasympathetic (ANS) response. Some horses experience an even deeper level of relaxation believed to be caused by a release of endorphins somehow triggered by standing on the pads. –Sure Foot® – The Murdoch Method
I was intrigued by the above statement and wondered if the pads would help Sky let go of some of her anxiety. I would say they have!! We are able to go miles away from our house now. I’m driving her places I’ve only dreamed about because I couldn’t get her more than a mile away from home without her having a minor melt down. I didn’t want to push her too much and cause a problem when I didn’t really have one so I went slow and easy. Now I don’t have to do any online warm up. I harness her and hitch her right to the cart! We trot around the side yard once and she powers down the driveway in her extended trot, ears hard forward looking at where we are going instead of worrying about what the horses at home are doing! It’s amazing! She is pulling me up some pretty steep hills and just won’t stop. She puts her head down and leans into her breast collar. I have to jump out as she is going when the going gets too steep because she won’t stop. I am so impressed!! She is going to have muscles in places she’s never had muscles!
I love looking at the pads when I they are done. The hoof impressions are pretty cool!
Here is a video of the girls standing on the pads the first day. To get this video I had to kind of hold Sky on the pads. When I untied her and let her decide she started the one foot on, step off, walk, another foot on, step off, walk….
And this video is from yesterday! They both have it figured out. Now Sky will sometimes step off and then put her feet back on all by herself. And she will stand on both pads at the same time now!
Please let me know if you have any questions about the pads! I’ll do my best to answer them. I know when I was trying to decide, to buy or not to buy, I couldn’t find enough information! So I’ll do my best to help you make a decision.