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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Clog on Clog: Removable System for Laminitis

The Steward Clog is less of a product than a concept. Dr Michael Steward in Oklahoma has created a unique, affordable and simple system for helping foundered horses. We hear about good results with the system from vets and farriers all over the world.

The idea of a pivot point rather than a supportive platform is a leap of faith that is difficult for many to make. And we usually don't make those types of leaps until we've tried everything else. If there is one thing that the last ten years of experimental farriery has proven it is that removing resistance can have as therapeutic an effect as adding stability, which was the old-school 1990s way approach to laminitis (and still works for a lot of professionals).

People call here and ask "Where can we buy those Steward clogs?" The answer is the whole point: you can't. Dr Steward has nothing to sell. The Steward clog is an idea, a system that you can probably make yourself out of scrap materials found in any barn or garage.

The "system" is actually just a block of wood. Period. You use screws or glue to attach it to the foot. Period. Dr Steward says that the bottom of the clog needs to mirror the shape of the coffin bone (P-3) and be correctly positioned beneath the bone. Period.

It's been five years now since Dr Steward presented the concept at the 2003 AAEP Convention in New Orleans and in that time, a lot of clever people have put their minds to ingenious ways to use or attach the clog. As long as you keep it simple, it seems to be a viable option for lots of horses, and sometimes the only option for people without the budgets for designer heartbars and rainbow "packages" of impression material.

EDSS, makers of the Natural Balance shoe, originally introduced me to the Steward Clog, and then they went one step further and started "manufacturing" a plastic clog.

Now our British friend David Nicholls AWCF has gone a step further. Perhaps some owners would balk at allowing a farrier to twist screws into a horse's foot, or perhaps the sole needs to be cleansed or medicated. In that case, David's clog:clog solution was to screw the plastic EDSS version of the Steward Clog to a Dallmer clog, which is sort of an exterior-strap plastic hoof boot. No doubt, the clog could probably be attached to any hoof boot, if you remember that the placement of the clog is critical. Normally, the clog is a 24/7 sort of a regimen, not something that is put on or taken off, but Dr Steward would have great advice there, I'm sure. Strapping on a laminitis support device gives you a test phase that allows you to go to Plan B if the horse doesn't like it.

David writes, "This equine patient did not respond well to wearing glue on heart bar shoes and the veterinarian cut a hole in the sole of this foot. He wanted a removable system so he could continue to treat this foot.The pink EDSS Impression Material is placed into the least painful areas of the rear of the foot. The other foot had a clog nailed on. Once the sole issues had been dealt with, I removed the Dr Steward EDSS clog from the Dallmer clog (too many clogs here!) and nailed it back onto the now-healed foot. The equine patient never looked back and has returned to its previous job as a riding horse. This case was a referral so once it was sound and shod I did not see it again."

Thanks to David and TFP for these photos and for having such an innovative shoeing practice, thanks to Cody at EDSS for introducing me to the clogs at the Equine Affaire in Ohio a few years ago, and especially thanks to Dr Steward for spending a lot of time on the phone with me...and for having a great idea, one which he is happy to share. And that great idea is one that anyone with the most basic home-maintenance tools, even in the most remote part of the world, can use to help a horse, once he or she grasps the concept. (And until or unless you do, don't try it!)

TO LEARN MORE, read "How to Construct and Apply Atraumatic Therapeutic Shoes to Treat Acute or Chronic Laminitis in the Horse" by M. L. Steward in Proceedings of the 49th Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, 2003 or read the "Going Dutch" article by Holly Clanahan about clogs used by Dr Steward on foundered Quarter horses in the January 2008 edition of America's Horse, published by the AQHA.


Anonymous said...

Fran, Thanks for the nice article on the wooden shoe-aka Steward Clog. I just got back from San Juan Capistrona, Calif. where I put on a very informal shoeing clinic on the use of the wooden shoe as the excellent local vets and farriers treated 6 cases under my very loose supervision. Mrs J.R.Raub was a very gracious host and Dr. Mark Secor supplied the digital radiographs of the cases. Mike Steward, DVM

Anonymous said...

Fran, I will send you pictures, etc., but I'm very computer non-savy ... What e-mail do I need to submit to? Mike Steward, DVM

Niki Marie said...

Fran...nice article. I'll be using as a reference for my research! Thanks so much for always writing great and useful horsey information. I love your blog. It always seems to pop up when I need to know something. ~ Niki Marie

Fran Jurga said...

Thanks, Niki Marie! I am looking forward to writing about you again soon. You found an oldie here, but it is interesting, isn't it?

Dr. Mike Steward is still hard at work finetuning the Steward Clog system and he has a lot of new innovations. Google him! I hope you meet him sometime.