Hoof trimmers and farriers have a new option for equine foot problems like white line disease, wall separations, excessive wear, uneven growth and cracks. If ignored, wall problems can effect a horse’s performance, accelerate lameness or lead to expensive hoof repair procedures.
Preventing and treating hoof wall problems has been a challenge to professionals and owners
alike. The D.E. HOOFTAP is practically invisible once installed but the hoof responds with tighter new wall growth and a healthier white line.
Zinc-coated D.E. HOOFTAPS insert into the hoof wall and are lightly hammer-tapped until flush with the wall’s bearing surface; they may be covered by a shoe or boot or left exposed on an unshod hoof. When the trimmer or farrier returns, the tap is removed with a standard farrier’s nail puller tool, and results are evaluated.
D.E. HOOFTAPS are a patented invention of New York farrier Doug Ehrmann, who experimented with an anti-bacterial zinc-coated insert to help grow out hoof defects from within; he was encouraged when he saw improved growth.
D.E. HOOFTAPS do not impede natural foot flexion and expansion in a barefoot horse. Under a shoe, they are a nonchemical asset to encourage healthy growth. Taps are also an alternative to shoes on hind feet for some horses, and are useful in horses transitioning to barefoot, when appropriate. Some horses wear only one tap at a time; others wear several. Any kind of shoe can be used with hoof taps.
Hoof taps are manufactured in England and were tested in the farrier school at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in New York, where instructor Steve Kraus, CJF described D.E. HOOFTAPS as “a less costly way to keep barefoot hooves from falling apart, or to help grow out cracks.”
New Jersey veterinarians Brendan Furlong and Wendy Leich adopted D.E. HOOFTAPS for their sport horses; one young dressage horse scored 80% in Wellington, Florida this winter wearing taps. They opted to install taps in their horses’ feet in lieu of shoes.
Sold in containers of 25, each steel tap has an anti-bacterial zinc coating and three shallow anchors that hold the tap in the wall just outside the white line.
Please consult your hoofcare professional to decide if DE HoofTaps are appropriate for your horse. Order Hoof Taps from major farrier and tack distributors, including Jacks Inc., equinepodiatry.com or check the
DE HoofTaps Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/hoofprofessional .
Distributor, retail and international inquiries are welcome.
Farrier Ernest Woodward of the Southern California Equine Podiatry Center in Rancho Santa Fe works on hoof problems in upper level sport horses and has documented practical and innovative uses for hoof taps, including stimulating wall growth for toe cracks on slow-growing hooves.
“I’ve been using them on barefoot dressage horses here in Southern California,” Woodward said. “One horse in particular was wearing his toes off at a barn that is all pavers and asphalt; it had been serious for six months because wear was exceeding growth. The shoes were taken off by the vet’s orders and the Hoof Taps went in. Then the client called after a few weeks to report that the horse was showing so much growth it needed to be trimmed ahead of schedule!”
DE Hoof Taps were inserted into wall separations in this hoof after the shoe had been hot fit to the foot. The farrier will now nail the shoe on over the taps. (Ernest Woodward/Southern California Equine Podiatry Center photo)
Shod, glued, booted or barefoot it’s no wonder that our horses end up with some form of compromised hooves when we consider the elements they’re exposed to. Climate extremes, bacteria, abrasive surfaces and athletic demands all influence the health of our horses’ feet - and for many of us the frustration of addressing hoof wall separations, excessive wear and the challenges that stem from them can seem never ending. Just as one problem seems to disappear - another arrives unannounced.
The good news? The answer may be as simple as tapping your feet.
Named after its inventor & long time farrier Doug Ehrmann, DE Hoof Taps are a product that offers an entirely new approach to hoof care.
Created because of his need for a real solution, Doug explains “Up where I shoe, inclement weather and abrasive surfaces like stone dust arenas are commonplace. So many horses were having chronic issues with excessive wear, wall separations and overall loss of hoof integrity. I remember thinking to myself - I have to find a better way to help”.
So after years of research, field trials and evolutionary stages Ehrmann formally introduced DE Hoof Taps to the market in 2018 and since then has produced noticeable & exciting results for the future of farriery.
A zinc coated steel tap measuring approximately 1.25 inches in length, DE Hoof Taps are inserted into the foot just outside of the white line. Left in for the duration of the shoeing cycle, DE Hoof Taps are most commonly used under traditional shoes. However, great success has also been seen utilizing the taps under glue on synthetics, in booted horses and the barefoot horse. “I designed them to be versatile” Ehrmann clarifies, “horses of all disciplines & shoeing methods can at some point face the challenges these taps are meant to combat. That’s why it was so important for me to create a product that could be used as an accessory for any horse”.
This versatility is just one feature that’s made DE Hoof Taps a popular choice amongst industry professionals. Farriers are reporting significantly tighter white lines, healed wall separations and a marked decrease in excessive wear. Simply visit the DE Hoof Taps Facebook page and a plethora of before and after case studies illuminates the screen. While Doug is no newcomer to product innovation, his ultimate standard remains the same. “If I’m going to bring an idea of mine to fruition - it needs to be a product that I reach for and that I use on a daily basis without having to think about because it works. The DE Hoof Tap has become exactly that product for me.” Based on growing product demands, it’s obvious these taps are quickly becoming a go to product for farriers across the U.S.
While the positive feedback & documentation has been consistent - the inevitable question comes up.
How exactly do DE Hoof Taps work?
The answer, is that the answer is still evolving. What we do know for certain is that the zinc coating plays a major role. On a chemical level - zinc is said to attract existing bacteria and repel new bacteria. Ehrmann’s hypothesis is that if the tap is inserted into a compromised foot - then the zinc coating will draw the bacteria towards itself. In turn, it’s believed that the zinc aids in rerouting the bacteria from traveling up the tubules of the hoof wall. As a bonus the steel make up of the tap aids in reduction of wear on the hoof.
“We’re continually discovering more about how they work” Ehrmann admits, “but the exciting part is that we’ve seen over and over again the positive impact they make on horses feet. They produce results too good to ignore”.
Mechanically speaking - Ehrmann designed the taps to mimic the natural curvature of the white line & to remain within the foot at a shallow depth. While the taps are not intended to be shaped, they can be easily modified to match the needs of the foot.
Some examples include shortening the taps to be placed in smaller, more specific locations, inserting the taps at the toe and in the heels. “In some cases you may only choose to use part of a tap, while in others you may decide to use multiple. The decision is ultimately up to the discretion & knowledge of the farrier using them” Ehrmann explains. He continues “The more skilled you are as a farrier the more you’ll be able to utilize the potential of these taps to their full extent.”
To remove, easily pull or trim the taps out at the end of the horses shoeing cycle. The uncomplicated process just makes taps that much more appealing. However, it’s important to understand that the DE Hoof Tap is not a DIY product.
While the simplicity of the DE Hoof Tap makes it a natural addition to any farrier’s shoeing box, Ehrmann cautions that taps should only be inserted by a hoof care professional. “This product is simple to use, and that’s one of the best parts about it - but it still needs to be respected as a tool. If you think your horse could be a good candidate, have the discussion with your farrier. He or she will be able to place the tap where & how it will benefit your horse the most”.
Designed with the good of the horse in mind, it’s exciting to consider what the future holds for the DE Hoof Tap. Many believe this product could be the representative product of a new generation of hoof care technology to come. It certainly defines out of the box thinking - and offers a new platform from which to approach hoof care. Not to mention it offers a creative addition to any farriers toolbox.
But if there is one thing we can count on, then it’s for Doug Ehrmann to keep innovating. So long there is a horse in need, whether shod, glued, booted or barefoot they will now have the opportunity to tap their feet.
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 article will outline what these can do to help the equine podiatrist, barefoot trimmer, or farrier improve the health and performance of the barefoot horse. And they're not just for barefoot horses; they can be used under shoes, glue-ons, boots and hoof wear too!
Quarter cracks such as this one can be the barefoot hoof carers nightmare! Traditional remedies often include the application of some form of shoe which helps create stability to the hoof wall. But there are a few challenges with taking this route; namely the environment afforded by the shoe may not provide the correct stimulus required to return health to the foot and hoof, so the underlying cause for the crack can remain unresolved and the crack can return upon removal of the shoe. Secondly, owners who have chosen to keep their horses barefoot rarely want to resort to shoeing if this is the solution presented to them by their hoof carer.
One fairly new solution is to use hoof taps to help control distortion. Quite simply, the tap helps bind section of tubules together above the problem area and provide the stimulus to stabilize the hoof wall and encourage healthy growth. Furthermore, they do not interfere with foot function and facilitate a return to health and performance.
According to Doug Ehrmann; inventor of D.E. hoof taps and long-time farrier; zinc is said to attract existing bacteria and repel new bacteria. Ehrmann’s hypothesis is that if the tap is inserted into a compromised foot - then the zinc coating will draw the bacteria towards itself. In turn, it’s believed that the zinc aids in rerouting the bacteria from traveling up the tubules of the hoof wall. A weak hoof wall is further compromised by bacteria so the hoof taps aid in breaking the cycle and helping healthy wall grow in.
According to www.soundequine.net; 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.”
In addition, they can 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 www.equinepodiatry.com and other suppliers.
If you would like to discuss D.E. hoof taps for your horse, contact your hoof care professional. Holistic Reflections provide Applied Equine Podiatry consultations.
Warmest well wishes,
Beccy Smith BSc(Hons) EBW DAEP
Andre Lebron of NY, a professional farrier for over 30 years, works on a variety of horses, specializing in Dressage horses, has found many applications for the DE HoofTaps.
Tom Noone, Grand Prix dressage competitor and multi time representative of the USA in International Competition has a horse who had chronic toe cracks. Andre used the DE Hooftaps to address this problem with excellent results
Beccy Smith: I'm an equine podiatrist and owner at www.holisticreflections.co.uk I have found hoof taps invaluable for cracks, wall separation, for increased traction over perfect hoof wear and even prolonging wear of hoof wear. They're inexpensive and easy to use too. I find the videos and posts useful too so thank you D.E. HoofTaps!
Older school horse with arthritis, barefoot behind, had excessive wear problem. We put in HoofTaps, image is at 5 weeks. As shown, there is plenty of growth. Apologies for not having the before image, cell phone was not handy.
DE HoofTaps are also used in the Wood Shoe for excessive ware.
Stephen E. O'Grady, DVM- veterinarian and farrier.
DE HoofTaps at work!