The Friendship Horse

Have you ever noticed that horses and other animals make great ice breakers in meeting new people? Babies, too, but for us, it’s really been Bug, my wonder horse, who has helped us get to know the other people who live in our neighborhood. 

We live in an area that seems like the country while being close to town.  It is not zoned to exclude livestock, so when we purchased Bug, we decided to build a barn and keep her at home. The barn went up with no problem, we fenced in a nice paddock, we were ready to bring her home.

 

The real issue, that became an opportunity, was how to exercise her? Housing, got it.  Exercise? Hmmmm. Walking Bug through the woods was nice, but unsafe if it was windy, slippery from rain, or if it was hunting season. In addition, I wanted a trail to follow when I was riding, instead of fighting my way through the woods all the time. Just up the road from our house, there was a nice path around a family cemetery. We needed to get permission before we used the area, which required finding out who we needed to ask.

After making several calls, we deduced that the people who could give us permission lived just a few houses down. We immediately got in touch with them and told them our situation. They were very kind and said it would be fine to exercise Bug around the perimeter of the cemetery as long as we cleaned up any messes. Then another issue arose:  how were we going to get past the Rottweiler that guarded the house in between ours and the cemetery? After a long talk with those neighbors we agreed to call whenever I was planning on walking Bug to the cemetery, and they would make sure their dog was inside. 

 

Meeting one set of neighbors also led to meeting other neighbors. We don’t have much grass in Bug’s paddock.  The folks with the Rottweiler suggested we get in touch with the man who owned the huge field across from us. I wrote a letter and within a few days, the owner called and said that he would love for us to use the field since it wasn’t getting much use anyway. I thanked him and told him we would put up temporary fencing and make sure we kept the pasture neat. 

 

Dealing with the issues of caring for Bug in an area close to town is working out better than we could have hoped, and has brought wonderful opportunities for friendship. Bug gets exercise, which is great, and my mom and I get to make new friends, too. Getting to know our neighbors has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience. It’s nice to talk to them, hear their stories, and share tips and opinions with each other. We have lived here over nine years, and are just getting to really know them with the help of Bug, my friendship horse.

Who do you meet when you’re out riding?

New Accessory Alert: EasyCare Snug Straps

Two of EasyCare’s most popular pleasure riding boots now have an optional accessory for extra reliability while crossing water or deep mud or while going for a sprint down a straightaway. If you’ve had an experience of your Velcro giving way on your boots, never experience it again. The EasyCare Snug Strap buckles around the back of the boot where the Velcro is secured. This simple design has proven to provide peace of mind and reassurance that the boots are not coming off.

Larger boned horses sometimes present larger heel bulbs. This may interfere with the ability of the Trail or Back Country from having the Velcro entirely overlap across the back of the boot. In this case, it is necessary to apply the Snug Straps.

Similarly, horses with underrun heels might have had trouble fitting into this boot style, until now. The protrusion of the heel bulbs on horses with heels of this category may not fit entirely into the Trail or Back Country. Although the Velcro is not closing entirely across the back, you may ride without worry once the Snug Strap is fastened.

Maybe you have an Old Mac’s G2 boot and the leather strap that buckles in the back is wearing. The EasyCare Snug Straps can now replace that part of the boot so that you are not left with the disappointment of tossing your boots that are otherwise in fair condition.

The Snug Strap is built from leather. To install this to your boots, you will need a leather hole punch and a screw driver. Each Snug Strap is sold individually and comes with all the necessary hardware for application. If you'd prefer, the skillful EasyCare warehouse crew will install these to your boots for you at the cost of $10.00 for labor per boot.

EasyCare strives to make your rides more enjoyable. Subscribe to our blog or monthly newsletter to be updated on tips, tricks, and new additions to the EasyCare line-up.

 

Mariah Reeves

easycare-customer service-mariah

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I promote holistic methods of equine care and will assist you with finding the perfect fit for horse and rider.

Hoofcare Abroad, Part II

Onward we travel to Zurich, Switzerland. This would be my fifth hoof care clinic in this beautiful country of the world within the last three years. 

Crossing the border close to St. Gallen at Lake Constance

In my Blog last month, I told you about my experiences in Germany during the first clinic, which was held in Bavaria. Most of these clinics are being held on weekends, so during the week I will have a few days to see some sights I had forgotten about or never seen before, because during my time spent in Europe the Cold War was prevailing and travel beyond the Iron Curtain was not possible. This time, I traveled to the Spreewald, a Biosphere Reserve 100 km southeast of Berlin. This area is inhabited by Sorbs and Wends, Slavic people who settled here during the Peoples Migration and still speak their Sorb language. There is also a Wend community in Texas. Preserving the cultural diversity makes all the difference and makes life on earth so interesting.

The Spree Wald

The Zurich Seminar was organized by Franziska Baumann, who breeds Sax Arabian Horses together with her husband Rainer. Hoof trimming, problem solving and therapeutic trims were on the agenda. All participants could bring up to two horses for an evaluation and self trimming experience.

First up, an Irish Cobb, or Tinker. Beautiful horses with generally great hooves.

Tinkers have typically broad and healthy frogs. 

It does not get much better than that: this frog is made for landing and shock absorption. We leave the frog alone, no hoof knife was used there. Any trimming of this frog would be invasive for no reason and only weaken the frog by robbing him of the protective callus layer. The bars seemed overgrown and laid over, we shortened them to relieve bar pressure on the sole. 

Next horse up was an Arabian from the Baumann Ranch. After a conformation and movement analysis, we mapped the hoof with the whole group together. Horse owners had first dip at trimming 'their' hooves. 

Rainer Bauman at work on one of his Arabian horses.

No horse was too small for evaluation and trimming. Towards the end of the day, we trimmed some (small) driving horses.

This Mini is used to wear hoof boots in his driving job.

What makes working these seminar in Europe so rewarding is the fact that everybody is into it and an enthusiastic contributor. I always enjoy teaching these workshops with many participants returning year after year. The next stop in Europe is planned for April/May 2015. I will keep you posted.

For now, all remains is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and hopefully you will find some Easyboots under the tree.

From the Bootmeister, Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com

Rita in All Her Glory

Submitted by Mari Ural, 2014 Team Easyboot Member 

Rita broke her withers many years ago, but that has not stopped her from completing her first 100 miler, The Big Horn, or from passing the 4,000 mile mark this year. Rita is 22 years old.

Rita and her buddy Quest.

Rita and her mom, Dana Landale, come early to rides, find and mark trail, and then unmark trail. We celebrate their commitment and Rita's amazing displays of perseverance.

Photos from the Grand Canyon and Bryce courtesy of Steve Bradley Photography.

Dana's husband, Nipper, keeps Rita happy in her Easyboot Glue-Ons, and is quite the gluing master. 

Hooray for Rita and her family.

The Basics of Taking Your Horse's Vitals-How and Why

Knowing how to check your horse’s vitals is, well, vital for any horse owner.

Not only does knowing the baseline for your horse make it easier to tell when something isn’t right, being able to communicate vitals to your vet helps them diagnose problems and give you instructions on what to do until they can arrive, not to mention potentially determining response time.

Appropriate tools for any tack room should include a thermometer (digital is easy but can run out of batteries-be sure to keep a spare or store with the batteries out) and a stethoscope. I keep a “crash kit” in addition to my first aid kit that includes the above mentioned tools as well as a few doses of painkillers, antihistamine, and a sedative. It is by no means complete, but I feel that I am armed and prepared to handle most any situation until the vet can arrive.

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The most obvious red flag is if your horse is off his feed. The phrase “eat like a horse” didn’t make its way into the lexicon for no reason and I have never heard of a horse who “just isn’t really hungry right now, thanks.” If he isn’t eating, he probably isn’t 100% and it is time to investigate further.

Related is the amount and consistency of poop. I have developed the charming habit of counting poo piles every time I visit the barn. Totally normal-or at least that’s what I am looking for!

Think you have a situation? Take your horse’s vitals and write them down so you can compare as time passes. Your vet and horse will thank you!

Respiration-normal range is between 8 and 12 breaths per minute

I like to watch the ribcage and count breaths as it rises. Count the number of ribcage rises that happen in 15 seconds then multiply by 4. This number is your breaths per minute.  I usually do it twice to take some of the paranoia out of a potentially paranoid situation.

Heart Rate-normal range is 36-42 beats per minute 

Here’s where the stethoscope is handy. Place the business end of your stethoscope a couple inches behind the point of the left elbow-you may need to move it around until you lock in on the heart beat. Count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply by four-this is your beats per minute. Again, I do this one twice just to make sure I have an accurate measurement.

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Temperature-normal range is between 99.8 and 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit

Taking the temperature is a fairly straightforward process-put a dab of Vaseline or veterinary lube on your thermometer and insert it into your horse's rectum. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your thermometer.  It’s a good idea to tie a string to the end of your thermometer so you don’t lose it up there. This whole process goes a little smoother if your horse is used to having their tail lifted-I make a point of playing with the tailbone and scratching all around the dock each time I groom-especially on young horses.

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Hydration-skin should return to flat within 1 second of being pinched (tented)

Capillary Refill/Gum Color- looking for healthy pink color and 1-2 seconds to refill

The simplest way to tell if your horse is sufficiently hydrated is to pinch a 1-2 inch fold of skin on the neck and see how long it takes to go back to flat. A well hydrated horse will snap back within a second or two. Longer than that indicates dehydration. You can also pull his lip up and press the gum firmly with your finger-the pressure point will turn white and should return to healthy pink within a second or two. While you are looking at the gums, note what color the skin is all over-a healthy horse should be bright healthy pink. Pale, yellowish, or dark are all red flags and indicative of a problem.

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It’s too bad that our four legged friends can’t just tell us how they feel, but now you are armed with the info you need to be a first rate equine observer. If you want a quick read on taking the digital pulse, you can check out my blog here. Until next time, get out there, take some vitals, and enjoy the ride-in your EasyCare boots, of course!  

Rebecca Balboni

easycare-customer-service-representative-rebecca-balboni

Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.

 

Riding Resolutions for 2015

It’s about that time of year when we begin brainstorming and searching the depths of our desires for a goal to achieve or a way to improve ourselves in 2015. As horse people, our world is often revolved around feed times, vet appointments, trimmer visits, counting hay bales, cleaning paddocks, and all the while making sure the horses are getting enough exercise. Make a New Year resolution for ourselves? Who has time for that?

45% of Americans create a New Year resolution. The Journal of Clinical Psychology says that people who make a resolution are 10 times more likely to change their behaviors than those who don’t. On the other hand, only 8% end up succeeding with their goals. Why? One reason is due to the lack of strategic planning and another reason for fall-through is setting too many goals or setting one that isn’t really achievable. Here are a couple tips to get you started on being a part of that 8%.

Make it real. If you’re not willing to change your lifestyle of traveling to shows or riding adventures every other weekend, don’t ask yourself to keep a clean house. Your home entry way may be confused as a tack room; filled with gear bags, muck boots, and dirt clumps that escaped your boots while trekking through the house… and so it should be!

Make a plan. Maybe your goal is to attend three dressage clinics in riding season 2015. Identify the clinics, write them on the calendar, and budget for them. List any preparation that needs to be accomplished before you attend and put that on your schedule as well. The more detail, the better. A study by researchers attempting to improve dental flossing among a group of people revealed something about our human nature. The participants that scheduled an actual time and place to floss were more successful at creating regular flossing habits than those that didn’t create a time and place. Telling ourselves to run a marathon in 4 months sounds good, but the key is doing. If we build a training schedule and participate in races up to the marathon, we can be more effective.

One of the biggest desires that many of us riders have is finding the time to ride more. Each day, I have the opportunity to chat with many, many horse people from east to west. The phrase “I’m not riding as much as I’d like to” or “I am hoping I can get out more next season” is a regular. To me, that sounds like a great resolution. Write it down, build a calendar, and make it happen.

EasyCare can provide you and your horse with products to carry you over many, many miles of trail; from Stowaway Saddle Packs to comfortable EZ-Ride Stirrups to Easyboots and EasyShoes. We are excited to help you achieve your 2015 riding goals. Contact EasyCare today.

Mariah Reeves

easycare-customer service-mariah

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I promote holistic methods of equine care and will assist you with finding the perfect fit for horse and rider.

Stella is 1/10th Goldfish: The After Shots

I mentioned that I was going to leave her flaky sole in there and just lower that hoof wall to get her sole more in contact with the ground. I could've knifed out the sole and hacked off a bunch of hoof wall and heel all in one go. I just took these AFTER shots during lunch so she's had 2 days of walking around on them. As you will soon see, they look like they need to be trimmed again!

I like this mode.

For people who don't want to trim every weekend, this would be a pain in the neck, but I like that her sole shed a bit and her frog shed a bit and she got to move around with the adjustment I made. I like that her change in angles is going to be a little at a time, once a week (for the next few weeks).

I had nipped off some serious wall and didn't rasp a thing. I just wanted to hack off the surplus, let her sole exfoliate a bit and then I could come back in the following weekend and nip again and rasp to finish it.

Here is the Left Front. The frog is getting ready to shed and the sole has taken a bit of abrasion. I had nipped at a 45 degree angle and it was LOWER than the "sole" just 2 days ago. With the false sole in contact with the ground, it had a chance to shed a bit. Her hoof wall is factually still longer than her sole. Her sole, factually, still has some shedding left to do. Now that I am not traveling, I will be diligent to trim her weekly, and let the frequent small changes reveal a prettier hoof by the new year.

While not the *exact* same angle, I did want to show the comparison of where the heels went when I trimmed them back. On the left, you can see the weight-bearing portion of the heel had moved forward, to better support the column of her leg. You can see where the frog spans the back of the hoof, much further back than the heels. After the mild trim, you can see (on the right) that the weight-bearing portion of the heels resides closer to the base of the frog. While I am dying to hack those puppies right off, I *can't* hack off much of her toe, as it hits live tissue, so I have to leave X amount of heel on there to keep the torsion off the toe in her break over.

If I had my way, this is where I would like to see her hoof shape go, based on the new growth coming in. I know as soon as I want to change the hoof to make it look "visually better" (to me) I need to stop and review. I can only take off what she has there to give and can't get invasive for the sake of hurrying the process. I COULD. Seeing as she's not being ridden and lives the life of leisure, she is in no hurry, so I don't have to do anything drastic.

I like where her frog is and the angle her new growth is coming in. I would want to tip the hoof in that direction and match the directions I think she is trying to work with. For now, she has too much live sole that I would need to hack off at the solar side of the toe, so we're going to wait and see what falls out on its own.

Here is the Right Front:

It almost looks like a different hoof! The frog shed down a layer (I didn't touch it). The sole has really flaked out and her hoof wall has all sorts of love that needs to come off of it. I took down the heels and bars and had beveled the toe with a deep 45 degree nipping. The hoof wall, just two days ago, was shorter than the sole and beveled off. In two days, she has taken out enough sole to make the hoof wall "longer" than the sole again and, the 45 degree corner is worn off and flat again.

As you can see, the heels were brought back and are more in line with the support of the frog, without being lower than the frog and causing it to be the sole supporter (no pun intended) in the caudal portion of the hoof. I like seeing the fissures on the back of the frog start to appear, as the frog is now moving and will shed its excess soon. Bit by bit, her new hoof will emerge.

This is what her fronts look like on the ground:

Mmmm, I love seeing ripples and ridges in the hoof wall. Reminds me of potato chips. I wonder if I should slather her in French Onion dip?

Actually, I cringe when I see the feet she "has had" and I do mean that in a past tense sort of way, as the bits I don't like are already months in the past as far as growing is concerned. She actually has a bit of wooly fur that feathers down oh-so-slightly, so you can't get a clear vision of her coronary band and the health of what is growing in from this picture. But she doesn't have pushed up hairlines that mirror those two "lifts" in the wavy bands of her wall that seem to break her dorsal area into 1/3rds. We'll see how those grow out!

Here is a profile shot of the Front Left and man, I want that heel to come down, but her frog is already in contact with the ground and I would like to see it shed its way off and then adjust, then wrongly assume the frog is going anywhere. What if it doesn't shed and she's left with a rocker for the back of a foot, balanced on the middle of a tall frog after I hack her heels off? I will be patient.  I like that her hoof wall is no longer taking the support and this gives no pushback to the coronary band and not hindrance to her break over. What is growing in at the top looks tight and tidy. She'll be happy to have THAT hoof when it reaches the ground.

Maybe by this weekend the entire sole will look different and my approach will shift. Read it each time you see it; don't plan ahead. What they give you is the gift you get to work with.

Here is the Front Right:

If I knew I was going to go 5 weeks between trims, I would get more aggressive. Knowing I am going to trim her in another 4 days, not so much. Additionally, her ground is quite soft. If it were more hard packed, I would probably rasp back a lot of that toe and take the heel down a smidge.

This is what it looks like from a few solar angles:

From here, her frogs and heels look supportive and neither taking on all the weight bearing caudal role. The toe area is still packed with sole that either needs to flake out or knife out. I will see what she does with it for a week, take new "before" shots and trim what I see then. I'm going for points of improvement from existing, not points away from perfection.

HINDS!

Left Hind

I like how large and wide her frogs are on both of her hinds. In this Left Hind comparison, her foot started very triangularly. When she was shod, they were QUITE triangle shaped. Now we start to see a more oval hoof emerging. Her heels were quite tall and the toe long. With the toe brought back and the heel lowered, we were able to keep the new growth angle happy, while getting rid of these pressure points of unevenness in her solar support structure.

Here you can see how much her heels came down. You can also see the frog taking on more contact with the ground and a top layer of it has rubbed off. Here is the dorsal and profile shot of her Left Hind. Again, her fluffy hair tends to obscure where her coronet band is and the evenness of her hoof. I will be happy to see her dietary and supplement changes helping the quality of her hoof. Environmentally, she came off a dry sandy environ in Utah and is now in a softer, clay powder dirt, with less exposure to sun and more groceries and vitamins and minerals. She still likes to eat the tress branch clippings and is still larger than a house, so she's probably still missing something in the "diet change" plan. Either that or I've confirmed that her lineage includes Goldfish, which are known to eat anything put in front of them and not stop until they explode.

Again, her footing is a smidge soft, so some of her hoof is under dirt. She doesn't have a scoop in her quarter, as the shadow makes it appear that she does. This hoof has only a slight flaring down the dorsal plane, but is the most uniform in old growth matching the new growth coming in. What is notable is that both of her hinds, she has tried to keep her angles happy to herself, even while she had taller heels and longer toes. Her solution? She flared the heels out into a triangle shaped hoof. Now that the heels are trimmed and falling more "under" her instead of splayed to the side, she doesn't "have" a triangle hoof. When I trimmed my Friesian, it was a common refrain that they "had" triangle rear shaped hooves. Not so. He just had long heels that he avoided by letting them go sideways. Once the bars and heels were convinced to stay under him and not splay, he maintained a slightly oval hoof with no more triangles. There is a frailty in not READING a hoof and then shoeing what you strongly believe is their genetic way of growing it. You are encasing pushed-up heels and holding in the flare that was heretofore relieving pressure.

Oh, but don't they have such a plucky turnover in their gait now! "Avoid, avoid, avoid the ground" I hear those plucky feet saying. It's harder to see pushed up hairlines when you have horses with that much feather. Out of sight out of mind. Lift those Bad Larrys out of the way and assess your new growth. Often on Gypsies and Friesians, they "see" the angle that is already 2 months too old and don't handle high heels and flares. They start to trim in 2D by only seeing the solar plane and trimming that, without regard to the new growth angle or the pressure feedback from the ground up to the hairline.

This owner wrote into a horse blog that his horse was lame and he thought the feather was causing his horse's problem. Even after hacking off the feather and exposing that poor, tortured, pushed-up coronet band and the wondrous angles that had his feet had been shaped into, he still believed it was the feather causing the issue and was shaving the feather and applying Betadine and ichthammol to the coronet band to handle the "hair fungus" that he thought was causing an ugly coronet band and poor hoof growth and lameness in the limb.

Here is another view. If the hair was still there, you would've never noted the angle of the new growth and where the hoof wall has started stretching away and changing slope. You would've never read that it had a long toe. Heck, if you cover the top portion of the hoof with tons of hair, you see a very compact, uniformly angled hoof emerge from the bottom. In fact, if you covered up that top angle, the remainder of it would look pretty nice! You would never see the heel pulling in and the hoof visually bound and contracting in the new grown coming in. This is the same horse that then developed that very vertical, very pinched upper hoof capsule with a pushed up, swollen coronet band.

But I digress. Feather easily distracts me, OOH FLUFFY! If you have feather, or fuzzy "unicorn stockings" like Stella does, you do need to pull them up and read the new growth sans hair coverage. Back to my unicorn-fuzzy feet. Stella's Right Hind:

Slightly different angles in the photos, my apologies. It was interesting to see her foot "pointing" to the right. Her outside heel wall flares out and her toe wings in. Her frog also flares out and is more crushed and collapsed on the inside.

I know her right hind was the unlovely shoe job that pulled the shoe and the column of support to vertical on the inside wall and super flared on the outside. Here is what she looked like shod, just 6 weeks ago:

From the solar view, you can see the shoe was only still attached to the outer wall, so the hoof wall started splaying outward:

I get impatient seeing imperfect feet and I have to remember how much we adjusted and hacked off when we took her shoes off, just 6 weeks ago. She's been sound the whole while, so no sense in getting aggressive now! As you can see from the various views below, her outside flare is not being continued. Her heels are sharing the weight-bearing portion in the caudal area of the hoof and her dorsal angle seems to be coming in tight. She appears to almost be at the angle she wants and has little toe stretching. When trimming her, there is little sign of stretching in the laminar connection at the toe.

I would prefer to put Stella in Gloves and I think those will be her boot of choice. Right now, she's getting rid of a bell of flare that was caused by her prior shod life. It's one thing to have flare at the bottom edge of the hoof wall, but when the flare is kept shod and "supported" the connection all the way up the hoof is strained and stretches. Your flare "starts" well up the hoof wall. Shame that trimming the bottom growth and relieving pressure doesn't automatically mean that the hoof slinkies back into a tight shape again. The laminae don't just cuddle in and hug each other and hold tight again. Like spandex that has been pushed beyond it's elasticity... or tighty whiteys that are not so tight and not so white any more. You can't go back, you can only go forward.

She will need a new set of hooves that are uniformly tight again, with good connection. All I can do is keep the hoof wall from flaring out and causing new stress and tears and let the whole new growth remain tight until it reaches the ground.

Then I will also know her actual size. If I bought Gloves now, I am betting dollars to donuts that she would need at least half a size smaller by the time the bell flare had grown down and out.

I could be wrong. :) But I'm willing to learn as I go and I won't be wrong going slow. I have great hoof care practitioners in my midst here in Durango and I love keeping up trims on a weekly basis and calling an expert in to keep Stella on course.

 

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Competitive Trail Ride Success

My Arabian horse, Solito ,and I competed at our first ever competitive trail ride in May 2014 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Co. We had only been together about 6 months so we were both nervous! The night before the ride it stormed very badly at camp with lightning and heavy rain and flash flooding in the area. The next morning we headed out with Solito wearing his Easyboot Epics not sure what to expect on the trail. We had multiple creek crossings ( see photo of first creek crossing with steep bank) with moving water and steep banks and challenging rocky ascents and descents as well as a very deep long muddy section with all horses struggling through hock deep sucky mud. Some horses at the event lost shoes and fell but Solito and the two friends horses I rode with did great! We rode about 16 miles the first day and about 15 miles on the second day of the event. No boots came off of our horses and my horse was sound and had high scores at all P/R and vet checks and his feet looked great! Solito won first in the novice lightweight division and I was amazed and proud! I have since bought him the Easyboot Gloves and they are easy to put on and take off and stay on great. He seems to like them.
Thank you EasyCare! Jill and Solito

Name: Jill
City: Breckenridge
State: Colorado
Equine Discipline: Trail
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove

Stella's Hooves: Before Shots

I could possibly retitle this, as this was not pictures of her hooves before consuming 1oz quantities of alcohol and, I assure you, they would look no different after whiskey was consumed.

I wanted to write a short blog on her feet before I trimmed them (after shots will follow, don't worry) just to share. I think some people out there (probably not the majority, but some for sure) have the concept in mind that a barefoot horse, trimmed with a "Mustang Roll" will have Mustang hooves, just by the mere fact of being barefoot and ambulatory.

There was a study done using 12 different horse bands in Australia and they tracked what their hooves looked like. They were all Brumbies (Australian wild horses, "mustangs" if you will) and all had been wild and loose and breeding and naturally evolving for at least 200 years. They should all have "mustang hooves" right?

Noper.

Aside from reading the whole study, check out this blog for Brumby photos and a recounting of Alyssa Brugman's trip to Australia to scout out a Brumby hoof model:

http://soundadvicehorsehealth.blogspot.com/2013/09/wild-horse-feet-and-why-i-went-to.html

My summary on the study was this: all 12 bands of horses tracked had DIFFERENT hooves. They had hooves that wore in relation to their environment, not their genetics. Soft ground led to Brumbies with long crumbling walls and folded over bars. Harder ground led to shorter hooves that flaked and chipped. Over 90% of the horses tracked all had signs of laminitis. Some from too lush a diet, some from too hard-packed ground (road founder). Some had contracted heels.

Enter Stella: Stella had very long hooves with shoes falling off when she arrived. They were shoeing her flare, not her actual hoof. As such, she has a wiggly staircase of old growth and I love watching the "rings" of her tree grow down and out. By Spring she will have a new hoof capsule and we'll see where our actions have taken us.

Let's look at the hooves of a horse on moderately soft ground. What do you think happened to them?

FRONT LEFT to start with.

She has a taller heel on the outside wall. She has quite a long hoof wall and her bars are also growing long, but not folding over. I rarely use a hoof knife, as it's my preference not to, but with the hoof pick, I was finding most of the sole was flaking and ready to come out. I view a hoof with two options, rightly or wrongly:

I can knife out the dead, flakey, powdery sole and then nip/rasp the hoof wall to being just slightly longer than the plane of the sole.

OR

I can leave the sole alone and trim the walls down to just below the solar plane and leave it.

My understanding is, if the flakey stuff is so loose that a hoof pick can piece it out, then a 1,000 lb horse should be able to exfoliate it on their own. Why isn't it? It's not touching the ground or not touching rough enough ground to abrase it and have it fall out. If I lower that hoof wall enough, I will get the false (dead surface) sole to fall out. After which, I likely have the wall longer than the solar plane, but I will have to go back and check that it is short enough, as a lot of sole might come out.

Here is the FRONT LEFT from the side. I like how tight and vertical the new growth coming in is. The lower the hoof you go, the further into the past you are looking. You wouldn't steer the Titanic by looking at the wake off the back of the ship, similarly, you don't look at the "end" of the hoof to judge how you are going to trim it: you look to the new growth. If you like what you see, you don't change course. Now, the sole can sometimes look scary and "wrong" but you are dealing with history and old hoof wall growth coming down from the coronet band. Don't change course of the ship to make the bottom of the hoof look pretty. Adjust the bottom of the hoof to make the new growth happy. She was shod and very long in the hoof. I have been tempted to hack her hoof off, level it off and dig that sole out. I might make her lame, I might not. I am not a professional farrier. I'm taking the cautious amount off.

This blog is purely my "reading" her hoof, and gives me the view of what I like/don't like and what I see is happening and what needs to come off. What I see in her is huge heel growth. Seeing her "live" and in the flesh (I know you can't see everything I see just by getting two pictures of a hoof) I see her with flared toes. Hoof wall at the toe that is "un velcro ing" from the sole and pulling forward. She's growing heel long and more forward, trying to give herself support. Not only do I not want her heels growing forward, I want to get those long toes taken care of to relieve that velcro pulling that she's telling me is happening.

This shot captures nicely how tight her new growth is coming in, how tall her heels are spurting in and the ridges down her hoof wall from all prior growth. If you visualized the new growth moving down like a conveyor belt, you can quickly see how far out of the growth pattern the toe has gone. It's flared quite a bit and is less and less supportive, less and less connected tightly in the laminae. Lots of stretching. You can see the rings of her hoof waver as it pulls around the heel. That heel is growing in at a mad rate, ha ha. You can almost see a triangle effect of lots of growth in the back, compared to very contracted growth in the dorsal (front) of her hoof wall. This was a second screaming clue that she doesn't "want" her toe length, as she's not resupplying the toe area with fast growth. She thinks her toes are long and odd enough, thank you. She is trying to grow heel to offset that long toe and move the heel under her to give better support and relieve the toe.

I had blogged about the hoof as a support column for the pillar of the leg.

When both pillars take the weight, the hoof is happy and balanced. When one pillar is compromised (in this case, a long toe) the back pillar (heel) moves forward to take on the weight as a single column, like you can see in the chestnut's hoof there.

This isn't surprising to me, as she had long hooves and is growing out "history". I just need to look at her new growth and make sure the "front of the ship" is moving in the right direction. Again, don't steer by the stern. Read the stern for history, read the hoof from the past to the present (from the sole to the coronet band). Learn from it. See what decisions the horse is making about his hoof. He too is feeling the "past" on the ground and adjusting his "future" by the new growth.

If you don't adjust the ground (sole level of the hoof) correctly, the horse will start to adjust. You'll see it in the new growth. Don't like how the new growth is coming in? Then what you left on the ground, the horse is compensating for and it needs adjusting.

Here is a hoof picture from a blog written by Team Easyboot member Christin Ganey Davis in June of this year:

http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/team-easyboot/life-during-founder-rehab

While this hoof is being rehabbed from founder, I did want to point out irregularities in the new growth as an example of what you might try to change on the solar level to help compensate for.

In this case (aside from everything else the hoof is going through, oh dear!) look at the hairline and note that as it wraps around to the right side of the image, it's pushed UP quite high. That would indicate, in a very simplistic reading, that the hoof had too much support "under" that pushed up portion, i.e.. the quarters were actually too long. If you mentally pushed that hair line down with your thumb and let the hoof magically "slide down" you would have about an inch long "bulge" on the solar plane.

Maybe a better example would be this: remember those pin toys, you press one side and the pins push through?

I keep in mind that a hoof can go two ways:

1) Grow from the top and push DOWN 

2) Resist from the bottom and push BACK UP.

You get to read all of it before deciding what to do with the trim.

And here is the RIGHT FRONT.

We will see the "outside" heel growing longer and flaring out a bit more than the inside one. We see a lot of hoof wall to trim off and we can still see the false sole as it is flakey, powdery and you can't even see the "seam" of connection between the hoof wall and the sole.

Close up so you can see the powdery texture of the sole and the hoof wall width and depth. Again, she won't have a mustang hoof on soft ground like she has. She will have long hoof wall that won't wear down and a soft sole that isn't being roughed and shed/exfoliated by its contact with the ground.

Just like our other front hoof, we can see the rings of dietary and exercise/environmental change growing out on her foot. We can also see increased heel growth that is outpacing the toe growth. You can see the white band of waxy periople of new growth since she's been here and the good sign is: there is a lot of it. Again, her heel is trying to grow long and forward, in an effort to support her leg column as she doesn't want to use user flaring toe to do so.

Here is the LEFT HIND:

Again, she has a taller heel and bar on the outside wall. The inside heel is also quite tall, and will be trimmed down, but she had previously been shod lopsided. It's one thing to have a horse that crushes the inside wall of a particular hoof, but she has the lazy pattern of a person who rasps and nips heavy on one side and light on the other. Ironically (and I could be VERY wrong) I see the outside as the "easily accessible" side of the hoof. When you rasp or nip, you have free clearance. You have the room to make it level. As you rasp and nip on the inside, you can run into the horse's belly. Rasps angle down to get under the belly and everything that goes towards the inside gets more taken off. She doesn't travel in a hoof path that would wear them this way. I will have to be mindful to really try and rasp correctly and prove if she's growing them this way, or if she wasn't trimmed properly.

What I DO like about this hoof is that her hoof wall along the toe has cracked and split off. She agrees: my toes are too long and this stuff has to go!

I like the way her new growth is coming in too. The heels are not growing AS fast and her toes are also not AS flared (for me, this is not a coincidence and these two markers go hand in hand). She also has the start of slight cupping. I will expect, after a bit more living here, that she WILL have cupping, as she has soft ground and constant sole pressure (albeit no abrasion as the texture of the ground is fluffy soft dirt and minimal rocks). If her hoof can cup, this would be the ground to do it. Horses that live on hard packed dirt, the equivalent of pavement, I wouldn't expect to get cupping. And again, I want to share this to dispel the concept that barefoot = a hoof shape,  or barefoot = mustang hoof. It doesn't.

Environment = hoof

Environment + Exercise + Diet = hoof

Genetics does not equal hoof, nor does purely trim.

Here is an angled shot of that same LEFT HIND so we can see the heel and how long that bar is. If I didn't read that the sole was false and powdery and fake, I might make the mistake of trimming the heels down and lightly nipping the hoof wall and visually "leveling" the bottom of the hoof. I might be sorely surprised when that sole does flake out that I wrongly hacked the heels off and left the toe quite long. You can't just read the sole. You can't just read the angle. Just like you can't only read the past and not look at the current growth. A hoof is 3D and you need to read it in 3D.

Last hoof, RIGHT HIND:

Again, this hoof might almost look "great" and like not much would happen with it. Those heels are "tall" and the bars are long, which might make one drop those down. While the bars look like "an inch" could come off (or more) the hoof wall looks like 1/4 to 1/2 an inch comes off. Here would be the problem of thinking that was the true sole: you get the wrong sense of length of the hoof wall. If I hacked off the heel more than the walls I likely would've wronged her. I would've created a longer toe and pressure there. Betcha next time I went to trim her, I would've found even more heel had grown back and had grown forward, to take weight off the long toe I created. 

Her hoof might not have MY past attached to it, but soon enough it will. She had her shoes pulled and her first trim to start her. She's now had trim number 2. Pretty soon, her uneven heels and long toes will either be gone, or something I have kept going by how I've trimmed her. I'll own that when the time comes.

Now it starts to look ugly! Once we start to see it in 3D we get more of a story. UGH! Again, my first desire is to kill those heels. I see them scooping out to the sides in a flare, I see how long the bars are, I see where the frog plane is compared to the heels and bars and see how far they could drop to let the frog actually reach the ground. But, I can also see the tight band of growth coming in and the way the hoof wall has belled out and actually flared. She still has a "long toe" on this hoof, as factually, the whole hoof wall is long and belled out. If I take off those heels, I have to commensurately take off those toes.

I could be fooled by how tough and thick her hoof wall appears from the solar view. But it's not as thick as it seems. Part of it is the thickness, but it's coupled with a false "width" of where the hoof wall has folded over.

In this little sketch you can see (from L to R) a hoof wall at X width. A hoof wall growing too long and curling or flaring outward. When it wears along the ground, it polishes off that little edge and you can no longer *easily* distinguish between the width that is hoof wall and the width that is the flare folded over. Hence, we read the hoof in 3D and don't simply look at the sole and say "My what lovely thick walls you have!" when we peek around the corner we see gnarly flares and have to rethink into, "My, what lovely thick slightly flared and folded outward hoof walls you have!"

Again, the more 3D you can examine the hoof, the better full picture you are getting.Now we can see how the hoof wall is flared and folded outward. We can physically see the "edge" or flat surface of the hoof wall folded outward until it's almost at a 45 degree angle from the ground. She's not wearing the hoofWALL she's wearing the hoofCORNER.

Again you can see the curly side of her hoofwall flare.

I like taking pictures before and after trims and saving them. I like going back a few months at a time and seeing if I am creating a monster or curing a monster. I find I look back on photos and go, "I'd do THIS" and then I glance at all the angles I took of the hoof and then at the other hooves and go, "Huh... maybe not." I like seeing a "problem" crop up and then going back a couple of months of trims and going, "THERE, it was right THERE and I missed it."

I don't trim a horse so aggressively that it will go lame, no sir. But I might trim too slow and so cautious that I am not steering the ship away from an iceberg fast enough. I gain confidence in what I am doing right by looking at my own before and afters and seeing if she moves better and is happier. Her mobility, soundness, desire to move (impulsion) and how the hoof is starting to grow in are my stars and compass to guide me.

Anyone who handles hooves will tell you they are constantly learning. Every hoof of every horse is different and each of them teaches us to "read" until we are more fluent in Hoof.

Stay tuned for the AFTER blog.

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Easyboot Transition Need-To-Knows

The Easyboot Transition has been received magnificently by many boot users since its introduction in November of 2013. There are several purposes for this boot style. One can enjoy pleasure riding in this boot or it may be used for therapeutic purposes and while the horse is on turn out. A new Easybooter introduced this boot to her veterinarian to help correct a gait irregularity.

I like to describe this boot as the Birkenstock for equines. The sole is constructed to promote blood flow, absorb concussion, and cushion the hoof while still offering the stability and reliability of a riding boot.

If you’re interested in the Easyboot Transition, the video below helps to build your confidence with this boot style and provides the need-to-knows of this specific EasyCare product. Press the play icon below to learn more about the boot style that EasyCare is so proud to provide to you.

 

Mariah Reeves

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Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I promote holistic methods of equine care and will assist you with finding the perfect fit for horse and rider.