Hoof pics would help. Check out link in my signature for tips. What makes you think laminitis? What did the vet say about it exactly? Is he fat?(horse, not vet!
) What's his diet & management?
previous owner showed us a possible small poke hole in the bottom of his hoove and mentioned that he was a bit 'off' on the front left beginning on Monday
Was the owner sure it was a 'poke' hole - I'm taking that as a puncture wound? Rather than an abscess that burst on the sole, which is what I'm guessing.
Now the horse has never been on gravel before, just pasture (he is not overweight), and upon later inspection he had begun to pack the front right leg.
(Got my answer to the overweight bit
) That he's never been out of the pasture before, you'd expect him to have rather weak feet that need protection & support on hard/rough ground. Just like yourself if you only walk barefoot on carpet. I reckon you couldn't then do gravel roads barefoot either, regardless of the health or soundness of your feet. What does 'pack the front right leg' mean?
The vet was called up and hoof tested both hooves, the front left was sore, but the right front was not. Upon using a nerve block the front right is obviously lame. There was an increased fetlock pulse in both legs, more so in the left leg.
I think hoof testers can be a handy tool sometimes but the above illustrates they are there to give a rough idea only. So he's sore on both feet, perhaps more on the left. Where exactly? Could it have been sole bruising from rough ground? Was the 'increased' pulse an increase in strength(as in bounding) or speed? Are there rings on the feet? Separation of the wall? Flares? Are his soles concave, flat, bulging...?
The front hooves have very obviously been trimmed much too short, he is now walking on the pads of his feet. We were told to give bute for five days, put him on softer ground, and use either easyboots or industrial foam until we can get a hold of the farrier to discuss options.
Without seeing the hooves, I don't presume they're not too short, but depending on the footing, the state of his hooves, etc, etc, the walls should
be around sole level, the sole & esp frogs(I'm gathering that's what you mean by 'pads'?) should
indeed be 'walked upon' & share the load with the walls. Gaia didn't put anything on the base of the foot that wasn't meant to touch the ground
. The hoof wall is not meant to bear the whole load of the horse.
As the horse has weak, unconditioned feet, I agree that he needs protection on anything but soft/yielding terrain. Hoof boots are generally a great answer, providing protection & support for the entire underside of the foot. You can also add rubber pads inside them if he needs further cushioning or support.