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Horse Hoof Care
Maximum Hoof Power
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage

White Line Disease and Thrush Treatment
Using Pads and Packing

Dear Cherry,

     I have been fighting white line disease and thrush on my 2 barrel horses since last summer. I have been looking in the different hoof related areas on the web, and have not found anything.   I read your book Maximum Hoof Power and saw mention of a pad and packing that can be used to treat this. Can you tell me more about it? Both horses have been on Farriers Formula since last summer. JJ

Dear JJ,

     You've taken the right step in feeding a hoof supplement - good hooves depend on good nutrition. My husband Richard Klimesh, a Certified Journeyman Farrier, has developed a hoof packing that has helped many horses with the problems you describe. His Gasket Pad method is described below.

Good Luck,


   1995 Richard Klimesh


     There are times when a horse needs a full pad between the shoe and the hoof.  The trouble is, pads often do more harm than good!  And, like many other farriers, I used to discourage horseowners from using pads unless absolutely necessary or prescribed by a veterinarian.

     Full pads require a packing material to fill the space between the pad and the hoof - and the packing is the problem.  A packing is supposed to prevent soil, rocks and bedding from getting under the pad and minimize the growth of bacteria.

    I have to tell you, I had my share of frustration with pads, especially at reset time when I'd pull the shoe and pad and find the hooves punky and soft and reeking with thrush.  It seemed like a Catch 22:  the feet needed protection from pads, but the pads made the feet worse...

     I made it my mission to find a hoof packing that worked!    I tried every hoof packing I could lay my hands on, including the old standard pine tar and oakum, the modern "quick fix" silicone, all the commercial packings medicated and otherwise, and many homemade recipes.  Some worked better than others, but they all had serious drawbacks.

     When polypropylene felt became available as a hoof packing material, I tried it in combination with many ingredients.  Finally, I found a method that did what a hoof packing was supposed to do, the packing I'd been looking for my entire career, the CVP Gasket.  I've since used the Gasket on hundreds of horses in a wide variety of conditions.  This packing has consistently improved the integrity of hooves, especially those that suffered from white line infections, thrush, thin soles, and weak quarters and heels.


     The letters "CVP" stand for the three ingredients used in the Gasket: copper sulfate, Venice Turpentine, and polypropylene felt.

C =     Copper sulfate, also known as bluestone or blue vitriol, is a naturally occurring inorganic salt most commonly seen in the form of bright blue crystals.  It is used to provide an essential trace element, copper, in plant and animal feeds, as a fungicide to control bacterial and fungal diseases of crops, and in medicine as a topical fungicide and bactericide, and in municipal water treatment systems.
     I use a granular form rather than a powder, because it is easier to handle and less likely to be inhaled.

WARNING: Copper Sulfate is toxic if ingested in quantity and should be handled and treated as a strong irritant. It can be corrosive to the skin and eyes and mucuous membranes. It is readily absorbed through the skin and can produce a burning pain, along with the same severe symptoms of poisoning from ingestion. Users of this material should acquaint themselves with the applicable MSDS information before handling or using the chemical. When handling powdered copper sulfate it is recommended that you wear gloves and a dust mask to avoid inhalation.

V =      Venice Turpentine is a yellowish, viscous resin from the European Larch, a pine tree.  It is used for lithographic work, as a sealing wax, and in varnishes.  Horsemen have used it for years as a salve for cuts and as a hoof dressing.

P =     Polypropylene is a plastic material used to make baling twine, water-ski ropes (because it floats), and sportsmen's underwear (!).  Recently, it has been made into a felt-like material specifically for hoof packing.  This hoof felt is extremely tough and does not readily absorb moisture.


     Several unique characteristics of the Gasket's  ingredients combine to make it a superior hoof packing.

     Copper sulfate and Venice Turpentine, when mixed in the proper proportions, saturate the polypropylene felt and act like an adhesive to glue it to the bottom of the hoof.  This forms a "gasket" between the pad and the hoof.

     The Gasket   protects the hoof wall and sole from the invasion of water, soil and manure for the entire shoeing cycle.  No other packing I've tried will do this as well.  This feature is extremely valuable when treating white line separations, especially when the horse cannot be assured of an absolutely dry environment.

     The copper sulfate migrates deep into fissures in the hoof wall and sole and kills fungi and bacteria that live there.  When the hoof is trimmed for a reset, you'll see a green stain extending far into the crevasses of the hoof.  "It goes where they live and kills 'em dead!"

     The foul odor associated with full pads is not a problem with the Gasket . In fact, most people are surprised at how it doesn't smell!  This is because the CVP method prevents the growth of thrush and other odor-causing bacteria.


     Shape the shoe, add clips, and fit the shoe to the hoof.  I strongly advise using two tall quarter, or side, clips anytime you're applying a full pad.  The clips help keep the shoe secure and also assist in positioning the shoe/pad package on the hoof for nailing.

     Cut a full pad to fit the shoe.  I recommend a stiff plastic pad for most applications.  Nail the pad to the shoe with the two heel nails, twisting the nails off close to the pad.  Don't  rivet the pad to the heels of the shoe.  This allows the pad to conform to the heel bulbs which will help keep debris out.  Also, resetting the pad and shoe is much easier when they're not riveted together.

     Use the pad/shoe as a template and cut a piece of poly-felt that will exactly cover the bottom of the hoof.  By covering the entire bottom, not just the sole, the Gasket can be used on flat-footed horses without fear of the packing adding sole pressure.

     With an applicator stick spread a 1/16" thick layer of Venice Turpentine on the frog area of the hoof surface of the pad.  Sprinkle copper sulfate over it.  This will adhere the poly-felt to the pad and prevent debris from getting between the felt and the pad.  It will also hold the felt in place as you apply the package to the hoof.

     Place the piece of felt on the pad.  Spread a thin layer of Venice Turpentine on the hoof surface of the felt, much as you would spread honey on a piece of toast.  Sprinkle copper sulfate lightly over the Venice Turpentine.

CAUTION:  Using too much copper sulfate will cause excessive drying of the  hoof wall and flaking of the sole.  Apply only as much as will stick when you shake off the felt;  or even less.

     If the sole has a generous cup to it, cut appropriately-sized pieces of felt to fill the central area level with the hoof wall and coat them with a mixture of CV (copper sulfate and Venice Turpentine.  If the sole is flat the single full-sized piece of felt will be sufficient.  Avoid using too much packing - it will put unnecessary pressure on the sole.

     Tear or cut small strips of felt to fill the sulci and triangular pieces to build the frog up to the level of, or slightly higher than, the hoof wall.  (If the horse has a prominent frog, you won't need extra frog pieces.)  As the horse bears weight, the packing will conform to the contours of the hoof, sealing the opening between the heels to keep out debris and water.

     Coat one side of the filler pieces with a CV mix.  Stack the pieces on the felt attached to the pad, coated side up, in the reverse order in which they'll be applied:  frog pieces on the bottom, sulci pieces on top.


     If you follow the above preparation, applying the Gasket will be easy.  Set the shoe/pad package where you can reach it when you're holding up the foot.  Have some extra CV mix and small pieces of felt at handy, such as in your shoeing box.

     If there are any cavities in the ground surface of the hoof wall, use a pointed tool such as a large nail to clean them out.  Pack the cavities with alternating layers of CV and very thin layers of dry felt.  (See the following section on treating hoof separations.)

     Pack the sulci strips, coated side down, along either side of the frog.  Don't ram them tight.  You want to fill the space and still allow for the normal movement of the frog and sole.

     Apply the frog felt, if needed, coated sides to the frog.  Apply enough layers to bring the packing at least to the level of the trimmed hoof wall.

     Position the shoe/pad/Gasket on the hoof and nail it.  Now you'll appreciate how tall clips can ensure easy and precise positioning of the shoe.

     Using a hoof sealer along with the Gasket is very beneficial, especially if the horse cannot be kept in a dry environment.  When liberally applied to the hoof/pad junction after shoeing, the sealer is absorbed along the perimeter of the poly-felt, increasing the effectiveness of the gasket.


  • Copper sulfate is a strong irritant and is considered a skin sensitizer that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.  Skin contact may result in itching or eczema.

  • Too much copper sulfate will cause excessive drying of the hoof tissues.  However, when the Gasket is removed it's normal to find a layer of crumbly "dead" sole.  This material would normally sluff off if the horse were not wearing a full pad.

  • Too much Venice Turpentine will cause it to squeeze out the back of the pad, making a mess.  This can be a real nuisance if it gets on the horseowner's tack or on the horse's chest when the horse lays down.  Use it in moderation.  (See "Clean Up" later.)

  • Too much poly-felt will cause pressure on the sole.  This could result in discomfort (the horse being "off"), and/or sole bruising.  Don't pack the felt in tightly.  The goal is to fill the space between the sole and the pad and still allow the hoof to move in a normal manner when its loaded and unloaded.


     Hooves with a separation in the white line or cavities in the wall will generally improve with application of the Gasket.  In many cases, the hoof wall can be helped to grow down solid without the need for hoof wall debridement or resection.

     The first step is to clean out the cavities in the hoof wall thoroughly.  A thin pointed tool such as a #12 horseshoe nail works well for digging out dirt, thrush, and dead hoof tissue.

     Then, use the tool to work a small amount of CV mix into the extreme depth of the cavity.  Pack a very thin piece of poly-felt (the layers of felt separate easily) over the CV, forcing it as deep as you can.  Continue with more CV and layers of felt until the felt is level with the hoof wall.

  • The CV mix used to treat white line problems is heavier on the copper sulfate than the mix used with the Gasket pad.  Take a pint-size Venice Turpentine can that's 1/4 full and add about 3/4 of a film container of copper sulfate.  Stir it every time you use it because the copper sulfate settles to the bottom.

     In many cases, especially if the feet can be kept out of wet environments, a shoe without a pad will suffice.  If a pad is needed, apply a Gasket with it.


"There are many advantages to being able to treat white line infections and separations without resecting the hoof wall""

  •    The intact hoof wall will contain the medication, eliminating the need for repeated time consuming treatments and expensive bandaging materials.

  •    A standard shoe, either a nail-on or glue-on, can be attached to the hoof without the need for labor-intensive fabrications.  A properly applied shoe will protect the already weak hoof wall from further disintegration.

  •    The horse, unless it is lame, can remain in work while the restoration of the hoof takes place.


     Treating minor separations early and routinely will help maintain horn strength, especially at the heels, and will often prevent the onset of the self-perpetuating condition of low, underrun heels.

     As with other methods of treatments for restoring white line integrity, the CVP method will show better results if the horse's hooves are kept dry.


     The only disadvantage to the CVP method is that it can be messy.  The very properties that make CV valuable in protecting the hoof, make it a bugger to get off hands, hair and tools.  But the improvement CV brings about in the condition of your horses' hooves will make a little extra clean-up seem like a very small trade-off.


     CV can be removed from tack with waterless hand cleaner, baby oil, turpentine, paint thinner, or WD-40.  It can be remove from a horse's coat by using waterless hand cleaner or baby oil and a comb.  A scissors is a last resort and not usually the owner's favorite option.  Use Venice Turpentine in moderation and wipe off any excess from the heel bulbs before you leave the barn.


  1.   Shape, clip, and fit shoe.

  2.   Fit and attach pad to shoe.

  3.   Cut full-sized poly-felt and glue it to pad with CV.

  4.   Spread Venice Turpentine on poly-felt and sprinkle with copper sulfate

  5.   Cut felt for center of sole and frog build-up if needed.

  6.   Prepare small pieces of felt for sulci.

  7.   Take Gasket package (shoe/pad/felt) to horse.

  8.   Pack hoof wall cavities, if any, with CVP.

  9.   Fill old nail holes on ground surface with CV.

  10.   Pack sulci.

  11.   Apply sole and frog felt, if needed.

  12.   Nail package to hoof and finish as usual.

  13.   Trim (rasp) any exposed felt around edge of shoe.

  14.   Apply hoof sealer.

  15.   Fill nail holes with wax.

  16.   Wipe any CV that squeezed out back of pad.


  •    Use a small pair of tin snips or scissors for cutting poly-felt.

  •    To soften Venice Turpentine that's become stiff, stir it with a light piece of bar stock to bring it to a consistency of thick honey.  Heating the can in hot water or near a heater (NOT over a direct flame) will make the Venice Turpentine liquid.  The thicker form is easier to work with.

  •    Keep a small container of CV and small pieces of felt in your shoeing box at all times.  That way you can routinely treat small cavities in the hoof wall before they develop into real problems.

  •    When packing white line cavities, pack them very firmly.  Gravity and the movement of the hoof will try to work the packing out.

  •    Save felt trimmings from Gasket  to use for filling sulci and hoof wall cavities.

  •    Just before nailing on the Gasket package, work some CV into the old nail holes on the ground surface of the hoof.

  •    Fill nail holes in the hoof wall with wax.  Use your finger to force it down into the holes, don't just smear it over the top of the holes.  It will still be there at reset time!  (The best source of wax is a pure wax toilet ring from a hardware store.  One ring will fill 6-8 plastic film containers.)

  •    Use waterless hand cleaner to remove CV from your hands.  WD-40, gasoline, paint thinner, and motor oil will also work, but are harsher on your hands.  Use the solvents for taking CV off your tools.  Use WD-40 or similar spray solvent for quick clean up.


Copper sulfate: Search on Amazon.com

Polypropylene felt, Venice Turpentine; Northeast Farrier Supply, Inc.,210 Holabird Avenue,Winsted, CT 06098
Phone 860-379-8553
Fax 860-738-7954
Toll Free 866-333-6337

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