SURE FOOT pads for equine physiotherapy?

Anyone have experience with these? Latest issue with my horse is that he’s doing the best he’s been doing in a long while, but he is still tending to be sore and stiff in his epaxial muscles and resistant to working correctly over his topline. When he does work in the correct posture, he’s going really well, looks much more even and correct in his movement. The vets are overall very pleased. However, because his go-to is resistance, stiffening, balking, we are looking at ridden and unridden exercise for him to continue to improve his back in addition to the other maintenance things for this and his many other issues (injections, acupuncture, PEMF, etc.).

He also needs a new saddle for the dressage trainer to use (the only trainer I’ve found who not only is doing a good job with him but he likes her and unlike some of the ones in the past, I don’t think she’s going to quit on him anytime soon). Her saddle is making his back worse, and he has also changed some so that my jump saddle is not 100% either at the moment but at this time, it makes more sense to invest in a dressage saddle and then get the jump saddle refitted later since he may continue to change shape.

Latest round of vet checkups found zero lameness in the hind limb that tends to look NQR sometimes (blocks negative), although we made some tweaks to hoof angles. All issues in his movement appear to point to thoracic spine. Imaging shows an improvement in the spacing where he has had some close but not kissing spinous processes (at least when imaged at rest, there have been signs of bone edema here suggesting times of impingement when he’s inverted). But although the spacing is improved along with his overall posture, there was some edema superficial to the supraspinous ligament and some abnormal fibrous appearance to the mutifidus muscles in the T13-17 area. But unlike a horse with KS, no apparent atrophy in the muscles. While we continue the saddle search, we did some steroid injections between these spinous processes, which he hasn’t had done now for 2 years.

Rx has been certain carrot stretches to activate these muscles, sternal lifts (which we were already doing), and it was suggested that something like the SURE FOOT pads would help strengthen the core, improve his proprioception, and help him move away from the more braced back at rest. They suggested starting with the firm front pads and maybe later using the wedge pads behind.

Anyone have experience with these? I know I’ve had to stand on similar stuff in PT myself but I’m not sure I buy the vast list of benefits the website seems to tout, and they aren’t exactly cheap.

https://murdochmethod.com/product-category/sure-foot/

I don’t get what they are meant to do.

Some are wedge pads for shoeing and some are to stand on temporarily? Are they meant to change the hoof angle or what? Generally hoof angle and loading is dictated by structures further up the leg so honestly all I see here are soft tissue injuries waiting to happen.

Your horse is being ridden in a saddle that doesn’t fit (what kind of trainer does that?), he has diagnosed pre existing back issues and current back pain.

I would address the back problems directly. Give him a week or two off to recover from the damage from this saddle then put him in a saddle that fits.

It may be worth addressing issues of hoof balance if you think that is affecting his back. You need a good lameness vet and farrier

But honestly it sounds like your problems are saddle fit and allowing the horse to carry himself inverted.

None of them are for shoeing. They are all to stand on for short periods of time. Like if you went to PT and did some standing on a BOSU ball or something like that. He does not need wedges added to any of his shoes. We just did a set of farrier rads last month again and tweaked angles behind as indicated.

These were recommended by my vets in one of the top sports medicine and rehabilitation practices in the US. But they can only tell me so much about their other rehab cases, so I was looking for owners to share any personal stories.

This has been a long project getting this horse healthy, and he has improved tremendously. However, we still have some niggling issues with his back we’d like to improve, move more appropriately, and get stronger so that he doesn’t unwind/compensate in other areas such as making his SI sore, etc., which he’s prone to do because he is still learning how to move correctly and accept that he now can move correctly.

I am actively looking for a new saddle. “Off the rack” just doesn’t work for this horse. It will take time. The trainer is willing to try some more rides in his jump tack which makes him happier. I’ve been sidelined for the past 9 weeks with a broken finger, also limiting our in-hand work. It took more than a few rides in the dressage tack to realize it wasn’t great. Also, it recently got refitted to trainer’s other horse which made the fit for my horse worse. My fitter looked at it and thought it wasn’t that bad, but horse is telling us differently, and we are not ignoring this.

Then honestly I see no point to them.

Why not just ride horse on varied terrain if he needs to develop stability and balance?

A little PT goes a long way with humans because we are so sedentary. I can’t see balancing on a foam pad a few minutes is going to help a horse much who is already walking trotting and cantering all day.

Pasture turnout helps horses develop.balance. Obstacles and gnarly trails teach them where to.put their feet. Gentle conditioning on different kinds of safe footing helps them leg up.

You can’t change the way the hoof loads because that is determined by the leg structure.

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Sorry I hit post too soon. Added info.

Don’t have a lot of varied terrain here to ride on, especially in winter. This horse spends most of his day napping in the sun.

Anyway, I was looking for anyone with actual experience with this modality to give some input.

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Well I’m interested to hear from someone too and if they turn out to work, I’ll have learned something. :wink:

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I’ve just come back from a clinic where we got to try them on some school horses that had a variety of issues. I was super skeptical, but they sure made a difference in how those horses moved (I wish I had taken some videos) and all the horses clearly very much liked standing on them. They also made a difference in how the people moved after standing on them for a short while - improving posture and straightness in gait. I bought a pair for my horse based on just this brief introduction (it wasn’t the main focus of the clinic). Weather has been too awful to try them out yet, but will be interesting to see the more long term effects on my horse (who doesn’t have any major issues) and I also plan on using them myself (I definitely have posture issues!).

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Interesting. Thanks for this!

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I’m bumping this thread to see if anyone else has used these…or if you have an update @leheath ! I’m curious about these for my horse and a barn mates…or even just buying human yoga/physio pads to accomplish some of the same things these are meant to for less $$.

I had a dressage lesson with someone who had a bunch of them, and I was shocked at the response in my horse. She almost went to sleep standing on them which is very unusual behaviour for her, and when she moved off there was a marked improvement in her straightness. I was so impressed that I ordered a pair of the yellow wedge ones, but I only used them a handful of times after that and they ended up collecting dust, so I sold them.

I find proprioception in horses and its effect on performance to be a fascinating study, and I absolutely believe there is value to these kinds of things.

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Thanks for bumping this up. I’ve been trying them with my horse. The blue softer ones on the hind feet and the green firmer ones on the front feet. He tends to go to sleep on them and likes swaying back and forth. The vets have noticed since we started that it’s easier for them to get him to stand square, and if they ask him for one foot he doesn’t need to shift the other 3 around before giving them the foot. He’s also been mostly off for the past 6-7 weeks with a mystery lameness but using these plus some walking in the therabands and his back is in pretty good shape for him (his usual trouble area). Also nice recovery since I think the start of the lameness was a cast event where his whole body was more of a wreck than normal.

So I guess I’m sold on them. Now I just have to remember to use them. I usually have him stand on them after he’s done some activity and is on the cross ties. He usually likes to nap at that time anyway so it helps with the standing still.

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Interesting, thanks so much for the updates! My horse is recovering from a soft tissue injury in the hoof right now, so I figure these can’t do anything but help that–and he’s also older and just generally dealing with stiffness/ringbone etc. A barn mates horse has some obvious stability issues in one hind leg, likely from an old injury from before she got her (she came through New Holland so her history is completely unknown).

Is it worth buying more than one set? Or should I just start with the “firm” ones (which is what the website recommends)?

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My vet prescribed that I actually start with the softer ones on the hind feet. Then firm ones on the front. Then all 4. He actually didn’t really want to stand square with just the front feet ones so I went from hind feet a few sessions to doing all 4. So for me, having 2 pairs was helpful to have early on. I am not sure exactly why they instructed soft for him behind. When it first came up, they were considering wedges behind, but we were able to fix mild angle issues behind in a couple of trims so they didn’t think wedges were necessary by the time I got around to it.

I think if you have any trouble introducing the pads, firmer ones are easier.

The next step would be to alternate diagonal pairs with firm vs soft. But since he has a new mystery lameness in a front foot, I’m not doing that right now. We do some other core exercises (lumbosacral tucks, belly lifts, back wiggles, ventral flexion), and at some point, when he is even better at standing square and staying still, we are supposed to try to do those on the pads. He already does his own kind of back wiggle on them so I’m just going with that for now.

One of my good friends is an equine PT and she LOVES them. I really want to get some, I just can’t really afford it atm with Mystery Lameness Mare Escapades going on right now. Once I get a for sure diagnosis on her, I might try to dish out for them for rehab.

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I wound up splitting the cost with another member of the mystery lameness club in my barn. But that horse is likely shipping off to rehab so I’ll probably buy out the whole set at this point.

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Rain, I wanted to tinker with my mare’s proprioception but didn’t want to invest a ton of money in the Surefoot pads, so I ended up picking up a pair of inexpensive memory foam kneeling pads from the gardening section at Home Depot. I get the same reaction - swaying, fall asleep, yawning. Definitely worth a try if you want an inexpensive way to give it a go!

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That is a really good idea! I had been thinking about looking for a cheaper alternative but hadn’t thought about those.

I might try to pick up some cheaper memory foam pads just to initially try as well–there’s a ton on Amazon for yoga and PT that are around $20, rather than $100+ for the SureFoot pads. I’m really interested to hear how many of you are using them and actually seeing a difference–I’m vacillating between “this is very cool and interesting” and “seriously, what is this?” reactions in my mind right now, haha.

I think just be sure you get something thick. I think that is really what’s key to these. At least for my very heavy guy. I also have only used them on the firmer (colored) side just because I think he’d tear them up on the non-coated side given his size. The soft pads he really squishes down, so I think the thickness is part of what’s key about these versus say a yoga pad. A PT or kneeling pad would be better.

Jury is still out for me on how much of a “difference” is happening. But the horse likes them and he is opinionated. For example, he would rather have nothing to do with a Theraplate. But these seem to put him in a happy place. People often ask me if he’s sedated.

Bumping this thread up for any updated experiences with these pads?