Mentorship with Garrett Ford

Submitted by Deanna Stoppler, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

In 2015 I applied for the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF) Roy Bloom Scholarship by submitting a case study entitled “A Team Approach to Treatment of Recurrent Abscessing Resulting From Solar Keratoma in a 14-year-old Quarter Horse”. As one of two recipients of the scholarship, I received the grand prize of a two to three day paid mentorship to take place with an AAPF mentor of my choice.  I chose to mentor with Garrett Ford, President and CEO of EasyCare, the leader in hoof boot technology.

Ford is an innovator, businessman, endurance rider, athlete, and breeds and races horses in the Arabian racehorse industry.  He is married to an amazing athlete, could-be professional chef, and physical therapist, Lisa Ford, and is raising a 9-year-old hard-as-nails, feisty daughter, Alyxx Ford. They have three dogs—one that is quite crafty and does all kinds of tricks, another who is an up and coming cattle dog (and wreaks havoc on the horses and foals, in a good way) and another miniature guard dog whose bark is much bigger than her bite. And they have a lot of horses. Arabs.  Ford trims and shoes his own horses for pleasure, endurance competitions, and for the racetrack. 

Ford’s experience in the hoof care industry, wide range of interests and talents, and ability to manage his career and personal life were all reasons for my selection. 

Traveling across the country from Vermont to Colorado was nothing new—every year I travel to Alberta, Canada to visit my dad—but still when I exited the plane in Durango I was amazed at the dry air.  Vermont is a humid place; even when we lack rainfall, it is humid.  Colorado was dry.  Cloudless sky.  Bright sun.  Like Alberta, like home.

My first evening at the Ford ranch was spent settling in, eating delicious sushi in downtown Durango (I liked the appetizer of fried brussel sprout chips best), and planning the next two days. 

Enjoying sushi with a feisty Ford!

In the days to come I would learn about trimming in a dry environment; glue on tips-and-tricks; new ideas for glue usage; basic information about Arabian breeding and racing; and endurance riding (hands on—we went for a 17-mile ride in the mountains, trotting and cantering the entire ride).

17-mile ride with Garrett and Lisa Ford.

Day 1: Can you glue a shoe?

If you think you know all there is to know about gluing try spending the day with Garrett Ford.  His mind constantly challenges the status quo.  He and his friend and colleague, Curtis Burns, continually test new ideas for shoe designs and for glue prep and use.  After numerous courses with various well known glue practitioners and spending a week as a team member of the 2015 Easy Elite, gluing shoes on competitors’ horses for the Tevis Cup 100 Mile Endurance Ride, I would say I know a thing or two about gluing but as farriers we can never learn too much and Ford is a prime example of pushing the boundaries and not allowing ourselves to settle in the comfort zone.

We played with shoeing using a technique that allowed us to tack the shoe on with Vettec adhere only from the heel to widest part of foot portion of the shoe, alleviating any possibility of glue pressure in the tip of P3, and tying in the cuffs and toe region of the shoe with Equilox tinted with black concrete dye.

Equilox tinted with black concrete dye.

We talked about the importance of heel prep and making sure the periople is removed prior to applying glue and how critical it is to glue the vertical height of the heels, not just the sole side.

Importance of heel prep.

We applied a dual nail/glue system and cut the cuffs down to account for slight flaring in the foot. 

A conversation about aesthetics and finish led me to realize that the smallest of details, like consistent finish in all four cuffs, separates better from best.  Ford talked about his mantra when finishing a foot—Curtis Burns once said to him: “Would you leave it like that?” And so he says it to himself after every trim, glue job, boot removal…would you leave it like that?  If in doubt fix it; do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all.

Day 2: Trimming a few, and a few more.

Trimming in a dry climate was in some ways like taking a breath of fresh air.  The work can be more difficult when trying to remove embedded bar and sole material but the feet are rock solid, literally. In Vermont feet are in a constant cycle of wet to dry to wet to dry to mostly wet, soggy, like a sponge. I might be exaggerating a bit but you get the idea.  Even though Ford’s pastures are irrigated daily, the horses’ feet are dry.  The air is dry. The ground is dry.  Feet: dry.

The balance of backing toes, leveling heels, leaving vertical height, straightening bars, removing exfoliating frog material, all of it applies to Colorado feet but Ford’s horses had healthy, dry feet instead of healthy wet feet.  Looking at the feet in Colorado versus Vermont wasn’t earth shatteringly different but I quickly realized that dry West feet could handle a bit more trimming than soggy East feet. In Vermont it feels that I am constantly balancing taking just the right amount of foot; not leaving so much that it will chip in the next couple of weeks of growth but not taking so much that if we hit a dry spell the horses will be sensitive on hard ground. 

During our day spent trimming Ford and I talked about the Arabian breeding and racing industry and what I got from those conversations is probably not what you’d expect, the retention of facts of sires and dams and bloodlines.  Instead it was the fact that a person can specialize in and pursue various areas of interest and still be successful.  Sure it is important to have a place in the market for your talent and skill set but that doesn’t mean solely focusing on only that area to be successful. 

Ford’s ability to network in various aspects of the horse industry reminded me of a web with many threads that all weave together into an intricate design, making the entire web stronger. 

My mentorship taught me that if you have passion, a willingness to work hard, an open mind, and aim to do things right the first time you will succeed.

If you understand that the most important thing in life is caring for your loved ones and staying true to who you are deep inside—to look in the mirror and be able to answer to yourself—then success is easy.  Success is and will always be yours.  Success is more than reaching a specific goal; success is a way of life.

We Find Out "Sibbald Flats" Is Not At All Flat

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

As part of our conditioning effort in working towards getting back on the CTR circuit this year, I joined a friend in an adventure to explore new trails at the base of the Rocky Mountains west of Calgary, Alberta. We loaded up early and arrived at the trail head at 10am on a Sunday only to find we were probably the last people to arrive; I guess we need to learn to get up earlier! After squeezing our trailers into the already cramped parking area, we unloaded, tacked up and wasted no time getting our adventure underway.

We were in an area called Sibbald Flats which I believe is named after the small meadow between the steep inclines that only takes about 4 minutes to ride across; don't be fooled, this area is hardly flat at all. We did spend the first hour or so on relatively flat ground but it turned out we had lost the trail and had to back track to find it. 

Once we got on the right track it was up, up, up with some lovely views on the ridge and then we went down, down, down. 

My boot of choice is a toss up between the Easyboot Epics and the Easyboot Gloves. The Gloves work great for us right up until just before my mare is ready for another trim, which was the case on this day.  The Gloves weren't going to be an option for us this day because Marina's feet were a bit too grown out, so on went the Epics which were easily adjusted to fit the size of her hoof and they stayed put all day. 

The upper elevations of the trail were rocky as expected but we really did cover all types of terrain on this day. When we got really lost we found our way by backtracking on the gravel road as well as riding the standard mountain trails which consist of meadows, rivers, mud, bog and of course we went up and down a mountain.

Although my mare, Marina, has great hooves, she benefits GREATLY from Easyboot hoof protection. She strides out wonderfully, canters up the rocky slopes, navigates the sliding shale and in general never puts a foot wrong or lacks confidence in her way of going. Being barefoot while at rest and sometimes while under saddle really does mean the healthiest hoof for this mare. With that in mind, we would never be able to tackle tough mountain trails without our Easyboots and are so grateful for the vast variety EasyCare has to offer and the reliable protection I can have confidence in when my mare has them underfoot. 

This Team Easyboot member is signing off for now in search of more adventures and stories to tell!

"E" is for Epic and "K" is for Kevin

Submitted by Jordan Potthoff, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

On Saturday, July 16th I went on a ride with my mother, Cathy, and our two Wisconsin cowboy friends, Daniel and Vern. Cathy, Vern, and I are members of the Back Country Horseman in La Plata County. This group does trail work in wilderness areas where horses have access to ride. It is "Trails 2000" for Equestrians. As president of the Durango Chapter my mom decided we needed to scope out the Crater Lake trail that goes up past Andrew's Lake, near Silverton, Colorado, before the work crew came in the following week. It was a fun day ride and we were all happy to get out and enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather.

We looked at the hiking guide to gauge our time and mileage. It stated, "5.5 miles to the lake" then of course 5.5 miles out. I had done a 5 mile ride on my 4 year old mare, my first young horse, and I felt she was ready for a longer ride. This would certainly be a challenge because it was twice as far as we had ever gone. There would be many challenges on this ride that would test her and I as a team. Needless to say, according to our GPS tracking the day went from a 11 mile ride to a 14 mile ride. If I was looking for a ride to challenge and train my young horse, boy did I find it.

I wasn't sure the footing of the trail so I decided on my Easyboot Epics for the ride. I am new to the barefoot world and natural hoof care. My horse, Pistol, has spent the riding season in shoes and the off season barefoot. When I joined EasyCare I pulled her shoes and began the journey into barefoot hoof care.

So far I like the Epics. The way that they open up allows for easy application and I still get a snug fit because of the cable and buckle system. This is a great starting place for me since both Pistol and I are new to booting. My hope is to make believers out of my riding group for this trip and future ones. I did spend part of the ride talking about EasyCare and all of the different boots we have to offer, as well as Glue-Ons and EasyShoes. I enjoy talking about the boot because I truly believe in our product. It doesn't work for every horse but the owner and CEO, Garrett Ford, is always looking to increase sizing options and created a better boot. 

My horse had some reservations about our first few water crossings. Somewhere during that time of trying every avenue possible to avoid the water she tore the gaiter on one of her boots and the boot came off. The boot buckle didn't release so I need to examine the boot and see if the cable is broken. I will also measure her feet again to make sure I have the correct size. I think what happened was I tried the fit kit and found the correct size for the Glove. But without checking measurements ordered the same size in the Epics. This is a common mistake. Our boots are not all sized the same, so we always tell our customers not to assume that if they are a size in one model they will be the same size in a different model. What probably happened is that this boot was too big and the clamp didn't tighten enough around the hoof to stay on during her frantic moves across the water.

When I did remove the boots I found that very little water stayed in the boot. I know that some people worry about water building up in the boots and sloshing around during a ride. This boot allows most of the water to squish back out after going through a stream.

The Epics have moderate traction and break over on the toe. The trail up to Crater lake was a mixture of dirt trail and big rocky sections. As we passed over large slabs of rock I noticed that Pistol had better traction in most instances and had less of a tendency to slip out compared to the other horses who were shod with steel shoes. Pistol has not developed a disciplined, cautious step yet, so I know that she wasn't getting better footing because of better foot placement on the trail. I was also happy for the gaiter protection around the heel bulbs because two of the horses experienced small cuts from sharp rocks.

We saw this butterfly at the end of our ride. It made me think of Kevin. Butterflies to me symbolize rebirth and transition into a new state of being. For me I think it could have been Kevin joining me in my successful ride. I had looked forward to riding with him this summer. I know that I would have learned a lot from him and my horse would have as well. He was always approachable when I had questions or wanted to learn more. I know I will still learn from him, his memory, and his experiences through the many many lives he impacted. 

Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing Kevin Myers for very long, he immediately inspired me to challenge myself and expand my riding experience. Both his and Garrett's passion for endurance riding was infectious. I have dabbled in many disciplines and their passion has sparked my curiosity for this new one. Well let me tell you I have a long way to go! Kevin would have called my 14 mile stroll a "recovery ride". HA! I was the one who needed to recover after that ride. It was my longest ride in a long time. But he was always very encouraging and was great at celebrating victories no matter how small.

He was on my mind during my first big ride. I know that he had a habit of doing a hand stand in great places so in his memory I did a hand stand in victory. Here's to you, Kevy. "K" is for Kevin. Happy Trails.

Giving Multi-Days the Boot

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

I had two multi-days on my ride radar, Strawberry Fields in Utah and Oregon Outback in Oregon. They were spaced two weeks apart. My goal was all three days on Thunder at Strawberry. My friend, Colleen Martin, was riding my grey gelding with her goal being days one and three. My unorthodox protocol is to use just Sikaflex and no Adhere. I often use somewhat used Easyboot Gloves and remove the gator once the Sikaflex cures. However this time I took Glue-On shells, drilled holes in the sides and temporarily attached gators. The reason being the gators would stabilize the shells so they stay in place while the Sikaflex sets up. I did this Tuesday, June 14. I removed the gators on June 15 and we left for Strawberry Reservoir the same day. This would give us a day to explore a little and rest up before the ride started.

 

Boots are glued and the boys are ready to rock and roll Strawberry Fields. Photo by Colleen Martin

I love it when a plan comes together and it worked pretty well, if I do say so myself. I did lose two front boots during the three days but I believe that was my own fault. I was trying to avoid having too much Sikaflex squirt out the back of the boot and stick to my horse's heel. I have tried using oily products on the heel to prevent the Sikaflex from sticking where I don't want it to but haven't succeeded with that. Proof as to just how sticky the stuff is. Anyway because of trying to avoid that problem, I don't believe that I used enough Sik in those front boots and that is why I lost them. However, I was carrying a pair of Gloves and replaced each lost front boot with a Glove and we continued towards our goal. 

All four of Blue's boots stayed glued on as he and Colleen Martin completed the 50 on both days one and three. This Day three photo from the top of the world taken by Steve Bradley. 

Between the Gloves and Glue-On's, Thunder and I finished all three days and got Pioneer status. Steve Bradley took this one on Day two.

Once back home from Strawberry, Colleen and I started planning Oregon Outback as we went on a nice ride near Eagle, Idaho. The horses were doing great! Since Blue would just be doing one day at Oregon Outback, we removed his Glue-On boots. They had been on a bit longer than a week. Blue could just wear Gloves for a day. But I wanted to do all three days again at Oregon Outback with Thunder, that is if all would go well. One of the problems with multi-days is avoiding pastern irritation or scratches. With or without boots this is always a problem, especially with pink skin. Thunder's hind boots were still nice and tight. I decided to just leave them on. Now I know EasyCare suggests not leaving Glue-Ons in place for more than 10 days. I thought it through and my horses aren't in much wet or mud this time of year. I don't let them on the pasture when the irrigation is running either, so I felt like my chances of my horse acquiring thrush from leaving the boots on were pretty slim. So I made the choice of leaving the hind boots on, and before leaving for Outback I Sikaflexed my cleaned out boots onto Thunder's front hooves. And once more, we were all set with Glue-On boots all the way around.

Z Blue Lightening and Colleen Martin, zipping down the trail for a completion on day one of Oregon Outback. The Gloves stayed put, as usual, for a drama free but fun filled ride!

Colleen Martin took this at the start of Day two at Oregon Outback. Thunder's Sikaflex glued boots were successful for the entire three days. This saved me from removing and cleaning Gloves each day but it also allowed Thunder to move freely and fluidly for all three days. My friend, also pictured, Trish Frahm, used Gloves on her mare for days one and two. Her mare's first two consecutive days of endurance.

Back home from our adventures and the horses got some welcome pasture time. It was July 5 when I went out to remove the boots. Even after nearly three weeks those hind boots were tough to remove. And the hooves themselves? Healthy as could be. Here they are after a little trim. Ready for more miles and more of what Thunder loves, going down the trail!

 

Sizing up the Season

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

It's past spring now but I'm just getting back into riding after adding a new member to the family. Even though it's summer I'm just now getting through my spring time check list of to-do's and I was just recently able to check another item off my list; re-evaluating each of my horses to see how their boots are fitting.

Whether you're ordering for the first time, trying to solve a fit problem or just checking to check, the process is always the same. Proper sizing is so important in ensuring your horse is comfortable and moving correctly and helps mitigate any potential boot failure due to ill fit. 

So! Bring your horse into a clean dry area and clean out their feet in preparation for a trim. Right after their trim you're going to pick up each foot and take two measurement. The first measurement is to be across the widest part of the foot - from medial quarter to lateral quarter. The second measurement is to be taken from the point of the toe to the heel buttress where the heel contacts the ground (not to the back of the heel bulb - this is where I see most incorrect measurement mistakes). EasyCare has a great set of instructions you can find on their website and I've borrowed this picture to illustrate the proper anatomical area's to be measured. 

You will need to write it all down so your don't forget as you will have a total of eight measurements, two per hoof, to now compare to the size chart. Each style of boot has their own size chart and in many instances the sizing does not cross over. Unfortunately, you cannot assume since your horse takes a certain size in, say, the Easyboot Epic that they will take the same size boot in the Easyboot Glove. Use only the size chart of the boot you're wishing to purchase. 

So I did all the above things and put my mare in her red Easyboot Gloves that we used all of last year. You can see the boot on the left of the picture has a nice snug fit but the boot on the right is a little big for her hoof at this time. We've changed farriers and she's not working nearly as much as she should be so it makes sense that her feet may have changed a bit. 

With her measurements these size #1 Easyboot Gloves fit alright, but not 100% ideal. We're able to get out and condition on our gravel roads in them but the addition of Power Straps will make them perfect for riding this year in some more rugged conditions. Remember, it is up to us to get the proper size of boot to ensure booting success!
 

EasyCare offers a Fit Kit for certain styles of boot so you can try before you buy! If  ever you have questions or concerns about boot sizing you can always contact EasyCare directly to speak with a representative to help direct you which style and size might best suit your needs. Happy booting!

 

Kevin And The 300

It is very hard for me now to pick up a pen and write a new blog after the tragic event that occurred within our EasyCare Family. It just hit too close to home. I am still extremely sad and in pain to the deepest level in my soul. 

 

 

And now what? We are all supposed to pick up the pieces and keep going. I guess we have to. Life is going on and we cannot keep staying in a state of sorrow forever.  It is unhealthy and also not fair to others close to us who might not have had the privilege of knowing Kevin Myers.  But make no mistake about it, it is hard, very hard. Tevis is happening this week, then the Nationals and other rides.  EasyCare will develop new products and life will continue. But Kevin's memories will stay with us and that is a good thing. Sooner or later we all shall be united again with him.  Hope it will be quite a bit later.

To learn more about what Kevin meant to all of us within the EasyCare Family, you can read up on the last couple of blogshttp://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/horse-boots-customer-help/postcards-to-kevin, and here: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/easycare-admin/wish-you-were-here.

One of the best blogs about Kevin was written by Garrett Ford. A magnificent tribute to him. I just love Garrett's thoughts about Kevin. 

Kevin was very interested in the success of his friends. He was always supportive of me and helped me achieve my goals. He was so looking forward to me reaching the 300 mark of wins in the endurance sport which he himself loved so much. It is sad that he missed that day and event, which happened during the Doubloon Ride, managed by Tennessee Lane of Remuda Run

Riding GE Pistol Annie at day 2 of the Doubloon ride to achieve the 300 win mark.

While the spirits were dampened by the passing of Kevin, and we all were not really in celebration or partying mood, it was nevertheless a big event that had not been reached by any endurance rider in the the world. 

Merri Melde from Endurancenet wrote a very nice article about it, to be read up here.

Trotting out for Completion after the finish of the Doubloon on day 2.

Okay, so far so good,  but what does EasyCare have to do with it all, one might ask.  Quite a bit, I will answer. 

A lot of these wins were actually accomplished using various EasyCare hoof protection products:

By far the most used boot was the Glue-On. In over 100 wins the Glue-on boot were used. Simply a reliable hoof boot that gets the job done. Love that boot. Easy to apply and lasting.

Ria McCarthy from Heber City, Utah, just rode with her dad the whole length of the state of Utah from the border of Arizona to the border of Idaho, 605 miles with countless vertical feet over many mountains during her 28 day trip. She and her horse used only one pair of Glue-On boots for the whole trip, and there are still some miles left on the tread. Just incredible performance. No iron shoe would have lasted that long.  Ria shared these two photos of the bottom of the Glue-On boots with me:

What a testimony for the Easyboot Glue-Ons. No need to say anything more. These photos say it all. 

So we all move on, with a heavy heart, no doubt. I hope time will heal us all and make us better people because of Kevin. We all shall look out more for each other. This will be his legacy he left for us.

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Wish You Were Here

Submitted by Tina Ooley

“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more.” ― Maurice Sendak
 

In 2012 I moved to Durango from Arizona.  I was the "new girl" at Kevin and Garrett's morning coffee shop.  I remember the first morning they came in and the manager (whom I was replacing) introduced me to them. It was a lonely time for me, being in a new town and not having any friends. Kevin smiled at me and when I looked in his eyes, I knew I had just made a friend.  He came to the coffee shop almost every morning, and I honestly missed him on the mornings he didn't.  I remember the first day we hung out together, riding bikes during our lunch breaks.  Afterwards, I told him that I was officially calling them my friends.  His smile always made me feel welcome and loved.  He was just what I needed in a friend.

In 2010 I lost my younger brother.  It was the most difficult thing I had ever been through in my life at the time.  I remember on the anniversary of his death, Kevin came in the coffee shop and when he got through the line and we were standing across the counter from one another he could see the sadness in my eyes. I am usually the smiley, happy one.  He asked if I was alright and I explained about the day and how hard it was.  Tears came down his face.  He was so dang genuine, he felt deeply, just like me and I was just so grateful for him.  He connected with everyone he came in contact with in a way that just made you feel loved.  

Our friendship evolved and for two years he and Garrett tried to recruit me to the EasyCare team.  I am not a 'horse person', so I always laughed and said "yea right".  One day, when we were again talking about the potential of me working at EasyCare, Garrett said, "Tina, we can teach you about horses, but you have qualities that aren't teachable and that's why we want you."  Kevin was nodding his head and in that moment I thought, well, maybe I can work with these guys.  I just adored them, they brightened up my life in unimaginable ways, they were my pals, and if they believed in me, then I could do it.  And so began my journey with EasyCare and my admiration for Kevin as a leader and not just a friend.

What a mentor he was to me with this work.  He taught me how to pick up a horses foot, how to hold a pair of nippers and a rasp.  He did everything he could to make me feel comfortable in a world that seemed really foreign to me.  I wasn't very good on a computer either, but he taught me everything and before I knew it, I was Kev's marketing assistant working on projects with him that were way outside of my comfort zone.  He always believed in me, he was my right hand man. When I would get overwhelmed with work he would say, "We are doing legacy work and we are a great team to do this work." The work he did at EasyCare made him proud.  He took pride in being Garrett's right hand man and making EasyCare the best.  He was the best listener and the best problem solver.  He could always offer me perspective that was insightful and inspiring.  We all just adored him.

So now here we all sit.  Our friend, colleague, mentor is gone.  I keep playing it all over and over again... How could he not know how loved and adored he was? How could he just leave us? The shock and grief is just so hard. I have been in this place before. The place where you don't really know how to function in the world, the place where your heart is shattered into a million little pieces and the thought of picking them up is more overwhelming than the thought of being broken forever. The place where you wonder how you could have made things different, what you should have said or how you could have been a better friend. I feel so, so sorry and I would do just about anything to bring him back.

So, I am reminded once again about how precious life is, how difficult the loss of someone we love is and the fact that a broken heart gets bigger as it heals.  As with all of you, I will do my best to honor our Kevy, to be a better human, and to love more.  I will miss him, a lot, and life will never be the same.  

I love you Kev.  Thank you for being my friend.  I'm so sorry you had to go.  I wish you were here.  I guess I'll have to head to the mountains to show you my handstands.  

 

Postcards to Kevin

Finding words to express the magnitude of loss and feelings the EasyCare family is dealing with is difficult, to say the least.  The shock is still lingering and the tears flow far more easily than words.  Here are a few thoughts and tributes from the EasyCare family:

From Dee Reiter

Kevin and I arrived at EasyCare within a month of each other in 2010. From the start, Kevin became my “go-to guy” for his warmth, charm, knowledge, his willingness to always be there for me and he earned my trust very quickly. I loved his work ethic, his big smile, his quick wit, his sarcasm and his gentleness. 

He was always my biggest fan in sharing my successes. In one of my last emails to him, I told him that my main concern was to exceed his goals for me and then we would both be happy. Kevin’s one word reply, “Amen.” He was my boss, my motivator, my friend.

We identified with each other as the “two worriers” in the company and both (laughingly) admitted that neither of us would ever change.

In 2010, Kevin and I flew to Massachusetts for Equine Affaire and spent five days together. You learn a lot about your teammate in five days of being together constantly. We are both the coffee drinking champions of EasyCare and it was a constant battle of Dunkin vs Starbucks. It was during this time that we both found ourselves, not only new to EasyCare, but new to our trade show booth and how I earned Kevin’s nickname, “Dee-vious” in getting (borrowing) the parts and pieces to put a trade show booth together. That name stuck until Wednesday, June 29, 2016. It was a name that endeared me to Kevin and now makes my cry.

Kevin’s hugs were the best and the last hug he gave me, he hung on for an extra long time. I wish he would have hung on so much longer.

Kevin, my heart is broken and I will miss you forever.

From Nancy Fredrick

Kevin, sweet Kevin…..you will be missed and loved forever.
From our first meeting here at EasyCare in 2010, you were a “Breath of Fresh Air”. Your smile was contagious. One look at you and a person could not help but smile back. Your happy attitude was so infectious. You have always been so gracious, forgiving and eloquent in everything you did and all interactions with everyone. You just had a way with words to make every person you came in contact with feel special.
I feel blessed to the moon and back that we had such a great connection these past six years. 
My heart is broken that you are gone from this EasyCare family….but your memory and smile will live on forever for all of us.
Love you Bunches mi Amigo!!!!! Via con Dios~

From Kathy Sherer

Kevin had so many wonderful qualities but if I had to choose just one word to describe him, it would be “kind.” 
The first time I met Kevin was shortly after he had moved to Durango. He needed pasture for his beloved horses, and I was the lucky one who had what he needed. When I met this handsome, gentle man, it was love at first sight. That sweet smile and adorable accent were like a magnet. When I saw him interact with his horses, I could see how patient and loving he was. I can still see that cute little grin of his as he stood and watched them like a proud father. 
Every day, when his truck showed up, I always went out to see him. “Hello, lovie” is how he always greeted me, and it would make me smile every time. More than once, I jokingly asked Kevin if I could adopt him. My mothering instinct was telling me that this very gentle spirit needed to be protected.
On his visits, we sometimes talked about the possibility of my becoming part of the EasyCare team, but the timing wasn’t right until four months ago when I became a part-time Customer Service Representative. This is when I got to see another side to Kevin. As our beloved leader, he was not only kind, but he was also supportive, patient, encouraging, and obviously brilliant. We depended on him in every way.
Kevin would be happy to see how his EasyCare family is caring for each other as we pull together in his absence. If one of us is struggling, another team member steps in. If someone needs a hug, there’s always one available. The team that he built is closer than ever, and I know he’s smiling about that. 
I’ll see you on the other side, lovie.

From Shari Murray

I already miss so much Kevin calling me on the phone and calling me “lovie”. "How are you lovie?  How is your day going?"  When Kevin asked, you could tell he really cared about how my day was going and how I was. He would ask me every time I talked to him “How is Mr. Muggles doing?” Kevin had a way about him that made everyone he had contact with feel special. 

From Devan Mills

Kevs, I have been lucky enough in my life to meet a lot of wonderful people and there are a handful of those people that have made a profound impact on my life both professionally and personally, Mr. Myers you are certainly one of them. After coming to interview with EasyCare I ran into you, Derrick and Rebecca at the local Mexican joint, you of course greeted me with that big smile and told me, “These are your peeps” I did not have the job with EasyCare yet but after you said that I wanted nothing more to be one of those peeps, and thank you for letting me be one of your peeps. Kevin thank you for always encouraging me in the office and trusting me with projects that I would have never trusted myself with, you have helped me become a more confident person I will be eternally grateful for that. I have had conversations will my fellow employees about how EasyCare has very passionate employees, looking back you made us more passionate about what we do, your passion and knowledge rubbed off on all of us. Another person that made a huge impact on me life once told me ‘Devan, you ride for the brand sometimes that is hard to find in a person’ it took me sometime to figure out what he meant by that, but Kevin you most definitely rode for the brand; fiercely loyal, extremely passionate and never gave up until the job was done in both your personal and professional life. Thank you for always caring about how I was doing and genuinely wanting to know, always making sure myself and horses were taken care of. I am going to miss running into you after work in Falls Creek on horseback and being amazed that you somehow did 18 miles on your horse up there, Falls Creek is going to be missing a big piece of what made it so special. Our trip to Tucson last fall I learned so much about you which made me respect you on so many levels and also left me wondering “When does Kevin sleep, he does so much?” thank you for also answering every single question I had about saguaro cactus, I'm sure you were thinking “This girl needs to get out more.” Thank you for being a part of my journey in life, I am going to miss you as a leader, mentor and friend. Rest easy, although it was much too soon you certainly earned it. 
With the utmost respect- Devs  

From Jean Welch

Before I started working at EasyCare, I was first introduced to Kevin through his Blogs. My first impressions of him were that he was adorable, funny, and clearly committed to helping horses. His English humor and wit came through in his writings. I read everything he wrote, never thinking that one day I would actually meet him, let alone work at the same Company. He was an accomplished endurance rider, an actual Tevis rider! He was somewhat of a superstar/celebrity in my book.

When I finally had the honor of meeting him, I was so nervous, but his warm smile greeted me as if we were longtime friends. He looked me in the eye and shook my hand and made me feel at ease.

As our friendship grew, he became more like a brother, sharing his knowledge, insights, words of wisdom, and dreams of the future. He had this uncanny way of diffusing a tense situation into something to giggle about. He has been a great inspiration to me, and I will miss him terribly.

From Rebecca Balboni

Oh Kevy, my most favorite leprechaun, I so hope you have found the peace that eluded you in this life. I am grateful for your leadership and mentoring in the office, for our adventures into the wilds of Colorado (sometimes the wilds of downtown), and for every precious mile ridden together. You, kind sir, could sure turn a phrase. You were a phenomenal chef, a horseman beyond compare, a scholar, and a loyal friend. I miss our banter and your infectious 1,000 watt grin. I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to “get” every person who came across your path. So kind and generous with your words, you were the best at making everyone comfortable. A diplomat in the truest sense of the word. You were the anti-awkward. You taught me so many lessons about how to be-just by being your inimitable self. Thank you for our short time together. You have changed my life in ways you could never imagine. Ride on, Kevin, ride on and on and on. 

From Debbie Schwiebert

Dear Kevin,

Man, you worked hard and played hard. Sometimes I wondered how in the world you were able to do it all but that’s just how you rolled.

We shared some great times riding together and laughed until we cried during the EasyCare photo shoots. I’ll confess I was never more stoked than to fix you up with a “real hat”!  You wore it well my friend. Good times and special memories.

Your life made a difference, thank you.

From Christoph Schork, The Bootmeister

Kevy!!

Kevin left us hanging. I cannot help wondering where I failed him and what I missed during the last few months of his life. I still have not come up with an answer and I might never come up with one. So I am left with the memories of Kevy, how I often called him endearingly, and what he meant to me.
Few people have touched my life the way Kevin has. He was a person of infallible character, a man with high morals, a person that listened to everybody patiently and never failed to give advice when asked. Kevin also was a man of highest intellectual capacity. Witty, smart, funny and mentally stimulating,
these were some of his outstanding personal traits. There was not one single topic I could not discuss with him. His understanding of the world was refreshing. Tolerant in every respect, yet a man with conviction. For years we worked together within the EasyCare family. Highly professional and
knowledgeable in every aspect of the business, I could always rely on Kevin to come up with a solution to any problems that came up.

Kevin made work to be fun. His joyfulness, smile and laughter was contagious and will be a part of me forever. In private, we spent countless hours riding together on our horses, riding bikes, running or just sitting and discussing politics, history and life. Kevin also took active part in other peoples success. His friends accomplishments made him happy. I feel privileged to call him my friend. His memory will be with me for the rest of my life. I will miss
him. He left a big void in my life.

From Becky Caldwell

Kev,

When we first met, I was at a turning point in my life where I felt like my world had been flipped upside down and I was starting over from scratch. I was terrified and insecure. But when I walked through those doors for my first official EasyCare interview, I was overtaken by your incredible smile. I was instantly at ease, as though I had known you my whole life. Over the past few years you've challenged me, encouraged me, empowered me to take on any new challenge with confidence and grace, and quickly became a very important part of my family. You supported me through the hard times and celebrated with me through the great times.

Over this last week, my heart has been flooded with memories of you. In this swirling video reel playing over and over in my head, there is one specific memory that stands out above the rest. It was a beautiful Spring day and you and I decided to go for a run after work. Even though there was a slight chance of rain, we headed up Junction Creek and made our way up to Gudy's Rest. As we began our descent, it started to sprinkle. Then it started to rain………no, it started to POUR!! You and I ran, giggling and smiling like little kids, through calf deep mud puddles and what seemed like a river washing us down the trail. When we got back to the car, we were both soaked and my face hurt from laughing so hard and smiling so big. I'll never forget the smile on your soaking wet face that day. It is a vision I will carry with me always. Although you're no longer here with me, and I don't get to see that incredible smile every day, I know you're not truly gone. You are still here with me……with all of us who love you. And through this broken heart, my comfort comes in knowing that you are finally at peace, and that you will forever be laughing and smiling, and splashing through mud puddles.

Fly free, my friend. I love you, Kev.


The EasyCare family is sending love to all who knew and loved Kevin.  "Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart." 

Peace to you all.

Kevin Myers- A Friend, a Colleague and a Mentor

I've had some difficult moments in my life but Kevin's passing has ripped my heart out.  Kevin had amazing friends and was loved by everyone he touched.  It's ironic that Kevin took his life because he didn't want to go forward lonely.  

Those close to Kevin have been through a bunch of emotions since Wednesday June 29th, 2016. Disbelief, sorrow, guilt, hours of tears, anger and numbness.  I've had a very difficult time trying to accept his passing and know we will never be able to replace him.  I could go into great deal about all our times together, travel, laughs, adventures and try to bring him back with memories.  Rather than try I've made a personal challenge to to emulate his good qualities and work hard to make the world a better place.  Kevin had so many amazing qualities but there are a couple that stand out that we should all work to echo.  

1.  Smile!  Kevin had an amazing smile.  A smile that would light up a room.  A smile that made you feel comfortable.  A smile that made him easy to approach.  A smile that made you feel loved.  I will smile more!

2.  Sincere interest in others.  Kevin had a sincere interest in others and had an amazing way of always making the conversation about the person he was speaking to and not himself.  It was easy to like Kevin because he never boasted, spoke of himself and always made it about the person he was conversing with.  I will become more interested in others.    

3.  Kevin had a sense of adventure and loved the outdoors.  He loved to ride, run, ski, and do hand stands in the most amazing places.  I will spend more time outdoors and bust out a hand stand!

4.  Kevin had patience.  Patience with people, patience with difficult situations and patience with animals.  I will practice more patience.  

5.  Kevin was great listener.  He was always there for his friends and was the shoulder we all leaned on.  Could we have prevented this if his close circle was better listeners?  I will listen more.  

6.  Kevin gave the best hugs and the best handshakes.  Kevin would shake your hand and and look you in the eye in a way that built trust and comfort.  His hugs were strong and passionate.  I will give better hugs and better handshakes.  

7.  Kevin was generous.  Kevin gave way more in life than he received.  I'm a generous person but can give more, I will give more.   

8.  Kevin was a hard worker.  I've had the opportunity to work with and learn from many people in my young life.  Kevin and I worked shoulder to shoulder for 6 years and we complemented each other in many ways. One of the things I'm most grateful to Kevin for is the opportunity to be a better father.  Kevin's hard work cleared my plate and allowed me more time with Alyxx.  I'm forever grateful.   

 Kevin was loved by everyone and leaves a massive hole that will never be filled.  I hope you have found peace my friend.  

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

The Amazing Kevin Myers

There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this and after this.  

Kevin Myers, my friend, colleague, and mentor, is gone.  Kevin and I shared a CONNECTION.  Many good times: through social media, email, and in person traveling together to teach, meeting up at conferences, visiting each other's houses and even riding together.  I first connected with Kevin through EasyCare, but honestly can't remember the first time we met in person.  He was the kind of guy who you felt like you knew forever.  He always brightened a room, and had a way of making everyone feel like they were on top of the world.  

 "There are two ways to bring out the light: be the candle or the mirror that reflects it".  Edith Warrington

Kevin was both the light and the mirror.  He was my mentor in many ways.  He lit the spark that started my endurance riding journey after being a dressage rider my entire life.   

On one ride in particular, I was riding in Durango with Kevin, Rusty Toth and Kim Lipko, another endurance friend.  I was discombobulated in the treeless endurance saddle on the horse I was riding as I was used to riding in an english dressage saddle.  We had 25 miles to cover that day, up and down one of the beautiful mountains in the area.  The horses were being conditioned for Tevis and I was along as a guest.  I was never going to get through 25 miles bouncing around the way I was!  Kevin generously sent Rusty and Kim on ahead and slowed down with me, giving me an "endurance riding lesson" while on the trail.  He coached me to absorb the irregularities of the terrain with my ankles and to post differently in a more forward position so I could stay with the horse easier.  And best of all, he taught me the "endurance shimmy", trotting with the horse down hill at speed.

Halfway through the ride we caught back up with Rusty and Kim and all finished the ride together.  It was one of the highlights of my 20 year riding career.  I felt like I could ride anything, anywhere that day, all because of Kevin.  And that experience spring-boarded my confidence with riding out on trail which I had never done much before, and enabled me to successfully participate in endurance rides, my FIRST one just a few weeks later we took 3rd place and Best Condition in the Vermont 50.  Kevin's support even helped me feel comfortable taking my seven-year-old daughter out riding now too.


 

Kevin was always going above and beyond to make sure everyone around him was taken care of in a light hearted way.   He and I taught several EasyShoe clinics together. He was fabulous at improvising and problem solving on the fly which made traveling together and teaching the clinics fun and easy. Especially with his dynamic sense of humor. We had favorite songs that we would sing at the top of our lungs going to and from the clinics to get motivated for the day (Rixton "Me and My Broken Heart"), and crazy words that Kevin used became part of my daily vocabulary even when we weren't together (Re-DONK-ulous!!).


Kevin was a gifted teacher, sharing information and techniques brilliantly to help the clinic participants feel successful.  He was always the first to cheer you on, whether it was the first time you've glued or your 1000th.  He made you feel like you could do anything.  

I am eternally grateful to Kevin in so many ways.  He has been a huge supporter of my hoof care work, from helping me navigate the blogs I write here for EasyCare, Hoof Love Not War, to offering me opportunities to teach and be part Team Easyboot, and Team Easyboot Elite 2016.   I taught a hoof mapping course to the EasyCare employees and Kevin helped me do an EasyCare webinar on Therapeutic EasyShoe Application during which we had technical difficulties where one camera went down and so most of the webinar was taken from behind me...we laughed about that a lot.  I know these opportunities were available in large part because of Kevin's support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kevin, for your faith and support over the years.  It has meant so much to me.  


 

Kevin Myers leaves a dark place where his light no longer shines.  His loss leaves a hole I cannot fill.  I will miss his sense of fun, his energy and way of making me feel like I could conquer the world.    


Fly free my friend, you will always be in my heart and mind.