Zack’s Journey – Thoroughbred Hooves

Zack and Jenny Whitman at EponaShoe in Paso Robles.
Zack and Jenny Whitman at EponaShoe in Paso Robles.


Karen Read is a long-time Neigh Savers volunteer. She is chronicling Zack’s journey with EponaShoe as well as two other horses we feel would benefit from this program. EponaShoe has generously donated their services to us and we are most appreciative for the friendship and generosity they have extended us.

Somebody forgot to tell Zack (aka Sarazua) that he is a Thoroughbred – this gentle giant stands over 16.3 hands, and is built like a classical European Warmblood.  His chill personality belies his OTTB roots, but when he has the occasional “youngster” moment, you can see the magnificent racehorse he was.

In his brief but successful race career at Golden Gate Fields, Zack bowed not one, but both front tendons.  And when he came into the Neigh Savers program last year, it was discovered that he also had Ringbone, a type of arthritis, in both hind fetlocks.

Farrier Gene Lelm, prepares Zack's hoof for the two-part hoof packing.
Farrier Gene Lelm, prepares Zack’s hoof for the two-part hoof packing.

Zack was immediately transferred to Eclipse Equine Sports Therapy in Paso Robles where Angie and Mike Scully and their team, rehabbed his tendons with laser therapy, cold saltwater spa and underwater treadmill treatments. When he was ready to go back to work, Zack came to Bear Creek Stables, in the rugged Los Gatos Mountains.

Initially, the Neigh Savers volunteers hand-walked Zack for 45 minutes per day. At the racetrack, Zack had spent most of his life in a 12’ by 12’ box stall, and he needed a lot of conditioning to build muscle and grow into his lanky body.  Though his mind said “I want to go back to work” his legs were not so sure.  Some days he was stiff, or he stumbled on the uneven terrain.  Was there something more we could do to make Zack comfortable?

The composite-material shoe is sized and beveled to fit Zack's hooves.
The composite-material shoe is sized and beveled to fit Zack’s hooves.

We called Monique Craig, founder of EponaShoe, in Paso Robles.  She had helped Neigh Savers’ horses Achak and Blame Rome with their challenging hooves – what did she think we could do for Zack?  Monique and her head farrier, Gene Lelm, noted that Zack had pretty good hoof wall quality and hoof size, but his feet were not balanced.  In particular, the heel height at the back of his hooves varied considerably.  Within an hour of balancing the hooves and gluing on the Epona composite-material shoes, the tendons in Zack’s left front leg were more defined – as if the tendon was not constantly in the “on” position anymore.  The flexible hoof packing developed by Monique supports the frog and allows it to connect with the ground.  For Zack, that means – no more stumbling!

Zack has Ringbone in his hind fetlocks. Other than NSAIDS to reduce inflammation, there are not a lot of treatment options for arthritic changes in the fetlock region, an all-too common condition in athletic horses like racehorses, dressage and jumping horses. If the horse experiences discomfort bearing weight on the arthritic leg – the other legs take on a disproportionate amount of the load, leading to hoof wall flares and changes to the other hooves.  Composite material horseshoes reduce impact concussion – and allow the hoof to flex, and bear weight more evenly.

Zack and Montana taking a play break at EponaShoe.
Zack and Montana taking a play break at EponaShoe.

After a full year of rehab, Zack is under saddle and starting to log miles on the extensive trails in the Bear Creek Redwoods. His racing days may be over, but we can’t wait to see where this handsome young boy’s path will take him!



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