Riding 100 KM in the Belgian Ardennes Mountains

Submitted by Pascale Winckler, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

23-24 May 2015, I went to Belgium for a 100 km orienteering trail event in the Belgian Ardennes mountains using a pair of Easyboot Gloves on the front and pair of Easyboot Epics on the rear.

First part of an orienteering exercise: plot the route on the map, to be able to find all checkpoints.

The first loop measured 40 km and the second one was 60 km. The ground was rocky for most of the way and I was very happy to have the full sole protection and the good grip provided by the Easyboot Gloves. There were also parts with deep mud. The Gloves did their job and stayed in place.

On the trail, day one.

During the night between the two loops, I just loosened the gaiters on the Gloves and released the cables on the Epics, but left the boots in place.

 Pausing at a checkpoint with a friend on day 2.

My equine partner passed the vet gates perfectly well and I was very happy. The hoof boots help me keep his joints healthy. He is a 17 year-old Fjord/French Cob cross gelding. I bought him when he was 12 and overweight, and with years of uncorrected bad manners. Using boots was an important part of the rehabilitation process, as he was lame on rocky ground. Now he has very strong hooves and works partially barefoot at home, but I systematically use Easyboots for important events. With boots, his feet are well stimulated during the rides and I know I will always see a peak of growth just after such rides. 

Resting after a 100 km trail ride, barefoot again. The hoof boots are stored for the next big ride.

A Sure Cure for FOMO

FOMO. noun, slang. A feeling of anxiety or insecurity over the possibility of missing out on something, such as an event or an opportunity. Acronym for “fear of missing out.”

I’m suffering from a terrible case of FOMO. I started to develop symptoms late last year after promising Hubby that I would sit out the 2015 Tevis. I haven’t missed the ride since it was canceled due to fires in 2008. My FOMO symptoms have included feelings of regret, loneliness, jealousy, envy and contempt combined with an overall sense of malaise. These symptoms seemed to diminish during the work week and then return with a vengeance on the weekends. I felt awful and I needed to find a cure.

My initial strategy (call this Plan A) was to try to renege on my promise to Hubby. I attempted to broach the subject several times with him in an effort to more or less “take his temperature” on the topic. I brought up riding Tevis with such vague statements as: “Czoe is going so well this year…” or  “Did you know it’s the 60th anniversary of the Tevis?” or “I’m soooo looking forward to Tevis.”  Each time, Hubby’s response was one of the following:

1. Ignoring me.

2: Giving me that “look.”

3. Responding with a remark that had nothing to do with Tevis, such as “What’s for dinner?”

4. Grimacing as if he his appendix had just ruptured.

When others would ask me if I was riding this year while Hubby was within earshot, I would coyly reply, “I haven’t really decided yet.”  I would say this in the most casual tone possible and then avoid eye contact with him.

Finally, after a few months of engaging in this behavior without getting the desired results, I simply said, “I would like to ride Tevis this year.” Hubby’s response was almost a plea: “Please don’t,” he said with utmost sincerity. Then he explained, “It’s not the race itself I want you to skip, it’s the six months leading up to it that completely consumes all your free time. It’s the hours and hours of training you will have to do and the huge mind share that Tevis demands.” He was right. Tevis has a way of taking over for months leading up to it. It wasn’t that he wanted me to take a break; he needed a break.

Since my Plan A for curing my FOMO wasn’t going to work, I developed Plan B. This entailed accepting my situation, embracing it and turning every negative symptom into a positive one.

The first step was to make myself available to crew for any of my friends who are riding this year, particularly Jenni Smith, who will be going for her 10th buckle on one of Kevin Myer’s horses as part of the EasyCare Team. Jenni has a HUGE crew (who are all color-coordinated, I might add). However, there’s always room for one more, and I plan on jumping in to help anyone else wearing an Easyboot t-shirt, as well. Rather than feeling left out, I am committed to being there on the front lines to help any way I can. This strategy has cured my regret, loneliness and jealousy symptoms.

The second step was to adjust my goals for the year. If you read my blog regularly, you know I am all about setting goals. Instead of focusing my efforts on just my Tevis horse, I shifted my focus on getting four (four!) horses in 50-mile race shape so that Hubby and I could ride together this season. This is something we haven’t been able to do for several years, as I was always so Tevis-focused and he was so work-focused. We looked at the AERC ride calendar together (yes, together!) and mapped out our rides for the year. So far, we’ve done four, most of which have been multi-day rides. Hubby has an awesome new horse, plus his old standby Tiki, and so we each have two horses to ride. It’s proven to be a better-than-great consolation prize for skipping Tevis. This cured my contempt symptom.

I also looked at this "time off from Tevis" as an opportunity to do something that I would not have done if I was Tevis-bound, which was to have much-need foot surgery. I’ve been suffering for several years now from chronic Morton’s Neuroma. A lot of riders get this, as do people who run and hike. Mine was exceptionally bad (really painful). Injections directly into the nerve were no longer working and I would be in excruciating pain after about 25 miles of riding. After a particularly bad flair up following the American River 50 in April, it became apparent that I wouldn’t be doing ANY endurance rides—let alone Tevis—until I had surgery.

I scheduled surgery for late May, timing it as best I could so that I wouldn’t miss the Cooley Ranch Ride. My doctor told me that I would be out of commission for at least a month. I laughed. Four days after surgery, I was back in the saddle, riding easygoing Tiki on a three-hour trail ride with my bandaged foot hanging out of the stirrup.  

Tevis is two months away. I’m still green with envy, but all my other FOMO symptoms have been replaced with feelings of excitement. I’m looking forward to helping my friends and watching the race unfold. And between now and then, Hubby and I have three rides on the calendar. I know I will see many friends at these rides who are getting ready for Tevis, and I plan on offering encouraging words to each one of them. There are so many ways to be involved with Tevis without actually riding, and I plan on trying as many of them as I can.

 As for Hubby, he's happy. And he as promised me that we'll ride Tevis together next year.

I Do Know Sik'em!

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

When I was a youngster, a great friend of mine, Dan Petrequin, would tell us "You girls don't know sik 'em!", whenever we'd really mess up. It was a big joke because even the dog would go crazy and find something to chase when you said "sik'em!" Years later, I do know sik'em; just a different variety of Sik'em. It's a product known as Sikaflex. Easycare has carried it for some time but to me it's one of those good old stand-bys that I often come back to.

There are a few things I like about Sikaflex. One - I can use a regular caulking gun. Two - I really worry about getting the Adhere under the sole, on the heel or hairline and creating a bigger problem than I already have. Three - it sets up slowly so I don't have to rush. However there is a drawback there too ,as I have to keep the horse busy eating hay and tied for a couple hours. Fortunately, Brass he can eat all day! 

I've had Brass for about 20 months now. He was the "free" horse. Yes, that should tell you a lot right there. His hooves were terribly neglected. At seven years old, he had never been trimmed. He still has sheared heels. And if you trim him too much he goes lame for a few days. So while I know his trim job is not perfect, at his age you just can't change too much. Last year we used Easyboot Glue-Ons on his fronts, and he'd pop one off the smaller less than perfect hoof. I tried EasyShoes but his hoof walls were thin and he had a smaller gluing surface. My luck wasn't great. We used Easyboot Gloves with power straps at the City of Rocks and The Haunting endurance rides last fall and he did great. Just recently one boot began turning on him within just a few miles of trotting. I decided Sikaflex would fit the bill with him. It not only gives him extra protection from rocks but will fill in the gaps and be adhesive enough to keep the boot from turning.

So, proving anyone can do this, I stuck my Gloves in the wash machine as usual to clean them up nicely. They dried in the sun. I laid out all my tools and necessary items, clean Gloves for the horse and a pair of latex gloves for me to keep the Sikaflex from making a mess, all my trimming tools, caulking gun, and mallet. I cleaned and trimmed up the hooves real well, scruffing up the outside wall just like in Christoph Schork's blog.

I left the power straps on the Gloves to keep them snug. I then squirted the Sikaflex in the bottom of the Glove, in a V pattern where the frog goes. I also placed it up the wall on the quarters and the toes. I was careful not to get too much in the heal area because excess Sikaflex will squirt out and you don't want extra material there. Then I put the Gloves on like I always would, with the mallet, twisting it a bit to smear the Sik around, then attach the gaiter. 

Brass just pretty much stood there and ate his hay. Because the Sikaflex takes a while to set up, I'd recheck the boots to be sure he hadn't twisted one, and kept the hay coming. After a couple hours I put him in the round pen where he wouldn't immediately run and play with the other horses.

My plan was to leave the gaiters on so if the adhesive came loose at least the gaiter would keep the Glove on. The next day before we left the horses were all racing around, Brass was busy bucking and kicking and the Gloves stayed put. You could tell the adhesive was tight. It was time to load up and go to the Owyhee Tough Sucker ride and put the experiment to the 50 mile test.

A good friend, Beth Nicholes, rode Brass on the 50 through rocks, creeks and sand, the Sikaflex held tight and the boots didn't turn. This is Beth's last year as a Junior and she wanted a horse to ride. Brass was my best choice. 

Beth Nicholes and The Big Brass, going through the sand wash at Owyhee Tough Sucker 50, April 4, 2015. They are off to a great start with a second place Junior finish. This just could become the best way to do things for Brass. Each horse is different and we always have to keep trying new things, and sometimes return to old things. Ride on!

Tevis 2015: Meet Easyboot Elite Team Member Derick Vaughn

Derick started learning how to trim and nail on shoes from a local farrier near his home town in Humboldt County, California early in 2011. Always interested in horses, and a fan since childhood of day-long rides into the famous redwood forests of the area, Derick decided a career in the horse industry would suit him well. In September of 2011, he attended Red Rock Horseshoeing School and studied under Dave Abel. Derick wanted to expand his experience and learn more about alternative hoof care methods. He made contact with Megan Hensley, a barefoot trimmer based in the area. He tagged along with her for a day, and was so fascinated by the work and impressed by the results, that he decided to apprentice with her and colleague, Amy Thornbury. He eventually sold his anvil to start his own barefoot trimming business in Humboldt County. 

At work applying EasyShoes in Durango, Colorado.

He moved to Durango, Colorado, in September 2014, after two trips there to work with horses in the area. He appreciates the opportunities offered to him by living in close proximity to the the EasyCare research and development location because of the dynamic group of people he gets to meet and work with, including Curtis Burns and Dr. Ric Redden. In 2014, he applied Easyboot Glue-Ons to the Haggin Cup winning horse as well as Tevis Cup winning horse. In 2015, he glued EasyShoes onto a horse nominated for the famed Darley Award. Derick considers his area of expertise to be the application of glue-on composite shoes. His favorite classes at school were Ceramics and Wood Shop. When you watch him work, you might see some parallels in the balance and finishing techniques he uses. 

Riding the foothills at his favorite ranch in Humboldt County, California.

When asked to identify the three most influential people in his career path thus far, Derick credits Garrett Ford for teaching him to care about his work and to take special care around the details in the work often overlooked by others. He acknowledges Curtis Burns for an expression that Derick lives by: "Are you going to leave it like that?". Derick hears that question as he completes every trimming or gluing job he works on. He credits Megan Hensley for teaching him about hoof function, diet, mechanics, the difference between a farrier trim and a barefoot trim, and for helping him build a clientele in the sector that interests him the most. The biggest challenges Derick sees in his hoof care practice are staying true to the ten-year vision he has for his business, and managing to build a specialized practice in a small mountain town three hours from the closest highway. As well as developing his business in the Four Corners area, Derick regularly travels to Texas and Florida to work with clients from the Arabian horse racing world.

Looking ahead to the week spent with the Easyboot Elite team at the 2015 edition of Tevis, Derick is most excited about the honor of working with five of the best gluing hoof care practitioners in the country. He also hopes to be able to achieve his double cup gluing status for the second year in a row. 

A collage from Tevis 2014.

The Easyboot Elite team is a group of six gluing professionals from around the country who will spend the week before the 2015 edition of the Western States Endurance Ride gluing Easyboot Glue-Ons onto horses entered to compete in the ride. Together, they form the most accomplished and sophisticated team of gluing professionals in the world. To book your Tevis 2015 gluing appointment, please call any of our Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-447-8836, and be sure to read last week's blog about the appointment process.

Kevin Myers

easycare-marketing-director-kevin-myers

Director of Marketing

I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.

Smooth Hauling; Tips to Make Your Next Trip More Enjoyable

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

With the summer months upon us, we horse people always have a place to go, whether it be to a competition or going for a trail ride with some friends. Over the years, through trial and error I have learned to be very organized when it comes to hauling my four legged friends. It makes the whole process much less stressful for me and my horse. I have composed a few tips that make my trips much more enjoyable. 

First, I always make sure my truck is taken care of because I normally haul alone and I’m not the most mechanically inclined person. I change the oil frequently and use a shop that I trust will tell me if something else is going on. Tires are also very important, if you have ever had to change a tire on a pickup while you have a trailer full of horses you know what a pain it is, if you haven’t experienced this you are lucky, it is awful. Making sure all four tires are in good condition, balanced and the pressure is correct. Check your spare too; having a flat spare is pointless and frustrating. During the summer months I always make double sure I have washer fluid to get all the lovely bug particles off my windshield. Don’t forget about all the lights; turn signals, brake lights, headlights and of course the dome lights. Just in case I always carry a flash light in my pickup and I can’t tell you how many times I have been thankful for having it. Before my trailer is hooked up I try to make sure my tank is full, that way my horses do not have to spend any extra time in the trailer and there are not very many fueling stations that accommodate for horse trailers. 

Once I have the trailer hooked up I check all the lights, inside and out, digging through your tack room in the dark is time consuming. Tires are extremely important on any trailer, I feel as if they get forgotten about. All four tires need to be in good condition along with being at the correct pressure. Adequate tire pressure is extremely important in trailer tires; I have learned this the hard way. If the pressure is incorrect you will run a much greater risk of getting a flat and it also causes the tires to wear much faster. Also make sure you have a jack and four-way wrench handy in case you do get a flat. Oh, and don’t forget to check that spare!

Packing the trailer, my favorite part! This will vary with what type of event I am going to and for how long but the basics are, for the most part, the same. I make sure all the tack I will be using is clean and ready to go, anything that was broken or not working properly I fix immediately. Saddles, bridles, saddle pads, Easyboots, leg wraps and anything else you may use. I also look over all my grooming supplies; shedding blade, soft and hard brushes, some detangler, mane and tail comb, hoof pick and fly spray. My vet kit is something I keep stocked and in my trailer at all times it contains; chlorhexidine solution , betadine scrub and solution, a few different types of wound dressings, plenty of wound dressing materials, gauze pads, a thermometer and stethoscope, bandage scissors and as expected some duck tape. I always keep buckets in my trailer and haul water from home, many times whether I’m going to a barrel race or on a trail ride finding a water spigot is almost impossible. I keep two six gallon camping canteens in my trailer at all times. They work awesome and are very easy to pour the water out of. I make sure my trailer is cleaned out and has fresh shavings. If I am leaving for a few days I will make sure there is plenty of feed, if only going for a day trip I fill a hay bag for the trip home or if they might have to stand at the trailer for an extend amount of time.

Now that the truck and trailer are ready its time to head out. I always like to make sure my horse is cleaned up before loading in the trailer, checking for anything unusual. This will also give me an idea if something happened during the trailer ride. I always pick out my horses feet before loading them in the trailer and put Easyboots on for added traction, stability and shock absorption. During the spring and summer months there will be dew in my trailer and even with that fresh bedding it is still slick, having the Easyboots on gives them that much more grip in the trailer and I never worry about any of them falling. I am so excited about the Easyboot Cloud! That will be what I haul in, without a doubt, once I get a set. If my horses are going to be on the trailer for an extended about of time I will also poultice their legs and use standing bandages. I also apply fly spray or a fly sheet if the bugs are bad. If I am heading out for a long trip I always try to leave early enough in the morning that I will arrive to my destination when it is still light out. That way I can get the horses settled and not be trying to finding my way in the dark. If I am only hauling in for the day I will still attempt to leave early so I can have a good parking place that is comfortable for my horses and myself. The Easyboot Cloud will make stalling over night and hauling for the day much more comfortable for my horses. There are many times I will not attend an event just because I know my horses are going to have stand on concrete whether it be for the day or overnight. With the new Easyboot Cloud I will not have to be nearly as concerned about hauling, stalling or parking. Did I mention how excited I am about the new Easyboot Cloud?

As you can tell my hauling regiment is quite extensive when laid out but after doing this a few times it comes easily. Having everything organized and prepared has saved me countless hours and massive amounts of money. It has made my horses and I enjoy every trip that much more. One downfall of having everything always in working order is that all your friends are going to want to come with you on your next trip because they will know that there will be no flat tires, broken down pickups or missing tack when you arrive to your destination. I hope these few tips will help with your future hauling plans.

 

Would A Squishy, By Any Other Name, Ride Half As Sweet?

There are a lot of talented trimmers out there and one such gal is Sossity Gargiulo. I met Sossity during a clinic in San Diego at Arroyo Del Mar. At the end of one of the days, I saw a couple of people dart off to the back side of the barn and, like any barn cat, I got immediately curious and had to follow. Curiosity had only killed me seven times. I rounded the corner and found Squishy in the cross ties, getting a trim by Sossity.

Now Squishy is a LOVELY big boy. He looks like he's smiling, all the time.

If we rewind about six years, this was not always the case. Squishy had gotten lyme disease. Getting lyme disease is not common. Sort of like being attacked by a shark. Then Squishy had resultant laminitis. Like being attacked by a shark on a plane. Squishy had, not one year of battling laminitis, but four years of recurring annual laminitis. Like being attacked by a shark on a plane, while being stung by a bee and then struck by lightning. And you find out later that the pilot was your cousin, and he was blind. Not to say it can't happen, but it's a pretty nerve-wracking series of events that I can only imagine leave you feeling like, "Why me... and why HIM?" I also imagine that Squishy was still smiling.

Enter Sossity, a barefoot trimmer out of Southern CA. If you can imagine anyone more sunshiney and covered in purple-everything, I can't.  A lot of caring farrier work and vet work went into the great boy, but all were having to manage his recurring laminitis and thus, his unstable feet.

Twice he had laminitis in all four hooves. Twice he had laminitis in just the front hooves.

Squishy enjoys watching the clinic.

He was living in his Easyboot Rx boots during his bouts of laminitis. Recovery time was spent hand-walking in Easyboot Gloves. Sossity was trimming him regularly and seeing improvement in his new hoof growth and his comfort.

Then Garrett had prototypes of the EasyShoes in hand and Squishy happened to be one that got to trial them. Shannon said, "His feet were not strong in general. He was either great barefoot, or sometimes he wasn't. Good then bad, then good. It would change." A big change she noted was that he grew great hoof in his EasyShoes.

During his four years of roller-coastering with laminitis, he had had some rotation, some sinking, inflammation and bouts of egg-shell walking. They managed this well in boots, for comfort and keeping him moving. It's amazing to see what the protection and comfort of the EasyShoe, coupled with its flexibility, was able to do for his new hoof coming in.

They say, "No hoof, no horse." I will add to that, "No fantastic hoof work by a hoof care professional and no passionate owner and no specific diet established" and you still have no horse. It truly takes a village to raise a child and a great team of professionals to help a horse. Ernest Woodward, Pete Van Rossum, Mark Silverman, DVM, and a host of others were part of Team Squishy.

It's quite emotional for any of us to see a great horse, back to their job they love and doing it with great feet.

Shannon is back to riding Squishy in Gloves and leaving him barefoot otherwise. The EasyShoes were a good tool, for the growth period that he needed them for. We are happy he has a variety of hoof solutions at his disposal.

Shannon Peters on Squishy: warming up for their show in Easyboot Gloves. With her is Michelle Moon, who is also warming up in Easyboot Gloves, on her mare, Highlight. By Feb 2013, Shannon had 12 horses barefoot and several of her students' horses.

Shannon and Squishy, back in competition. Shannon says Squishy lights up when he gets into an arena. Performing is such a part of who he is. "He gets about a hand taller and he has this presence," she says. She enjoys riding him, thoroughly. He also looks like he enjoys getting back into the limelight.

We were happy to be part of that ride.

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!

Tevis 2015: The Finest Gluing Team of Professionals is Available to All Competitors

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Western States Trail Ride promises to be a landmark event befitting Diamond Anniversary status. EasyCare has a long and successful history at the worlds most challenging 100-mile event. For the fifth year in a row, EasyCare enjoys prestige status as the official hoof boot of the event, and will be providing gluing application services to all competitors who wish to benefit from the competitive advantage Easyboot products are known for. 

Heather Reynolds and Hadeia riding through the town of Foresthill, California, on their way to a first place finish.

To build upon the success of past years' gluing activities, EasyCare has assembled a hand-picked team of the finest hoof boot gluing professionals in the country who will be on site at the Auburn Fairgrounds applying Easyboot Glue-Ons to more than one third of the competing horses in the 2015 event. The team is made up of Curtis Burns, Ashley Gasky, Jeremy Ortega, Deanna Stoppler, Pete Van Rossum and Derick Vaughn. Each of the hoof care professionals has been chosen based on their various successes and achievements in the hoof care world, and will be provided to the Tevis competitors at no cost. Scheduled to take place over two days at the fairgrounds in Auburn California, this hoof boot application will set new standards in excellence for hoof protection application at the 60th anniversary edition of the Tevis Cup.

Hoof care practitioners Curtis Burns and Ashley Gasky - two members of the 2015 EasyCare Elite gluing team for Tevis.

All competitors who wish to take advantage of the gluing team must make an appointment in advance. The 2015 gluing schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Auburn Fairgrounds 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM.
 
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Auburn Fairgrounds 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM.
 
Friday, July 31, 2015
No gluing.

Please note the following six items:

  1. Location - unlike prior years, gluing will only take place at one location: the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, California. There will be no gluing services offered at Robie Park this year. 
  2. There will be no gluing services offered on Friday.
  3. EasyCare will provide Easyboot Elite team members' gluing services at no cost. However, each rider is required to provide the boots and materials needed (new, unused and untouched Easyboot Glue-On shells; 1 tube of Adhere; 4 Adhere Tips; 1 tube of Sikaflex).
  4. Please bring a horse that has been trimmed within the previous five days. Angles, toe length, heel height, etc. should all be pre-determined and implemented well in advance of your arrival in Auburn by you and your hoof care practitioner. The Easyboot Elite team will not be making any such changes as part of your gluing appointment. No shod horses will be accepted for appointments.
  5. We request that all horses should have successfully completed at least one race in Easyboot Glue-Ons before attempting Tevis in Glue-Ons.
  6. No gluing services will be offered unless an appointment has been booked in advance.

Easyboot Glue-Ons dominated Tevis again in 2014: 

  • The 2014 Tevis Cup (first place) was won in Easyboot Glue-Ons by Heather Reynolds and Hadeia in 14h17.
  • This is the fourth year in a row for the first place Tevis horse to be wearing Easyboots.
  • The Haggin Cup (Best Condition) was won by Barrak Blakely on MCM Last Dance.
  • At 15, Barrak is the youngest rider to win the Haggin Cup. At 17, his horse is the oldest horse to win Haggin Cup. 
  • Five of the top ten horses to finish were in Easyboots.
  • Ten of the top 15 finishers were in Easyboots.
  • 25% of all finishing horses were in Easyboots.

To book your Tevis 2015 gluing appointment, please call any of our Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-447-8836.

Kevin Myers

easycare-marketing-director-kevin-myers

Director of Marketing

I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.

Tevis 2015: Meet Easyboot Elite Team Member Pete Van Rossum

Pete has been deeply involved in all aspects of equine hoof care with Ernest Woodward and their affiliation with Dr. Mark Silverman and the Southern California Equine Podiatry Center. His ongoing full-time apprenticeship with Ernest provides Pete with the opportunity to work with some of the top dressage horses in the country, both at home in San Diego and around the country. His experience includes traditional equine shoeing, barefoot trimming and booting, composite glue-on shoeing applications, and founder care/therapeutic applications. Pete lives in Ramona, CA and works throughout the San Diego area, including Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe.

Pete currently provides hoof care for between 100 and 125 horses every month. His primary focus when not working directly with Ernest is on working barefoot dressage horses, and therapeutic shoeing applications. The proudest moment in his hoof care career was being able to provide the options and support for a chronically lame retired horse to come back to full work with EasyShoes.

Ernest Woodward has been Pete's primary influence in understanding and applying a wide range of podiatry solutions for horses in a variety of working conditions. His association with the Southern California Equine Podiatry Center and Dr. Mark Silverman has been a priceless source of information and inspiration for Pete, as well as the frequent clinics they regularly present throughout the country allow him a larger perspective of podiatry needs in different environments. In addition, the influence of Pete Ramey's teachings led him from trimming his own horses to expanding his passion for equine podiatry as his main life focus.

When asked about the greatest challenge in his hoof care practice today, Pete says he needs to constantly keeping an open mind to adapt and change when new products, technologies and methods evolve and develop in the field. He also says it is important to make the time to attend clinics and meet peers around the world for exposure to the best minds and talents in equine hoof care. His third identified challenge is to keep the courage to try new things.

Looking towards the Easyboot Elite week at the 2015 edition of the Western States Trail Ride, he says the thing that excites him the most is the no-room-for-error, all-in opportunity to help Tevis competitors and their equine partners get the absolute most out of their partnership and the latest EasyCare technologies to realize their maximum potential at the event.

Pete has been a lifelong surfer, and as regularly traveled internationally to the Caribbean, Fiji, Hawaii, mainland Mexico and other destinations in the search of large and perfect waves.

The Easyboot Elite team is a group of six gluing professionals from around the country who will spend the week before the 2015 edition of the Western States Endurance Ride gluing Easyboot Glue-Ons onto horses entered to compete in the ride. Together, they form the most accomplished and sophisticated team of gluing professionals in the world.

Hoof Care Ab Initio

What does 'Hoof Care' actually entail? How do we define it? For some, it simply means trimming hooves every so often and possibly applying one of the many hoof protections available, from metal shoes to composite shoes and hoofboots from the extensive line of the EasyCare products.

For us at Global Endurance Training Center, Hoof Care is all encompassing. It involves everything from feeding, training, exercising, dental care, chiropractic care, massage and mental well being and horse happiness. I touched on that subject a couple of months ago in my monthly blog at this site.

When do I start with hoof care in a horses life? Just recently I was privileged to witness a life birth from the onset. To be able to be part of a live foal birth during daylight hours does not happen too often, most mares will give birth in the wee hours of the morning, when fewest predators are awake yet.

Birthing commences.

Front legs coming out first.

Head follows

Legs and hooves still protected by the amniotic sack.

Upon the tearing of the amniotic sack, the toes see daylight and immediately the protective emponychium, also called milk toes, are falling off. No more need for them. They were there to keep the toes soft and prevent them from piercing the amniotic sack. Now they need to get shed ASAP so the hooves are able to support the body and the foal can get up and move very quickly, if necessary. Predators are waiting everywhere. 

Within a few more minutes, the remaining milk toes will fall off as well.

As soon as the newborn is getting up, usually within half an hour or so, and is stable on the legs, we are taking mom and foal for their first outing. Hard ground is important for strengthening fetlocks. So pavement or concrete is beneficial. Often the young ones are born with slight crookedness in legs and joints. These early outings, 20 minutes max on the first day, will help fixing these slight imperfections almost immediately.

What else is important that catches our attention:

The foals are born with pointed toes.

The soft 'golden slippers', how the emponychium is commonly also called, are falling off the toes which are already very pointed. This pointedness is going to develop even more so within the next few days.

Very noticeable with a different foal , a few days old here, in the photo below, red arrow.

These pointed toes are very important for the locomotion of the foals and should always be left intact. Any rounding of to 'help' with a break over would be a disservice to the foal at this point in time. Foals do not round out and collect like grown up horses, they cannot move their hind quarters under their body. These pointed toes are a necessity for getting ground purchase and allowing the foals to balance their bodies, thus avoiding slipping and falling. Foals tippy toe a lot, their fetlocks are weak and the heels cannot get loaded yet. That is why foals seem to have  heels that appear to be underrun and constricted. Time, hard surface turnout, proper movement and exercise will strengthen hooves, fetlocks and lower leg structures.

Within a few days, the foals are ready to explore more difficult terrain. These experiences are invaluable, they learn using their young bodies to balance and overcoming terrain challenges. They learn to read the terrain and to use judgment. First they follow their moms, later they explore on their own, just like children do.

First little downhill.

Cautiously and inquisitively moving through the rocks in the beginning.

Nice how he handles this little step.

Can I continue here? Maybe not. The foal actually then stepped  backwards, turned around and found an easier way down.

With more confidence is this little fellow moving through the rocks.

Allowing the babies to move freely and early develops and strengthens not only hooves, tendons and ligaments but also balances the body and mind. And they have fun doing it and so do we while taking them out and watching their progress on a daily basis. I call this fun time investment money in the bank. Later when the horse is being worked under saddle, terrain difficulties are a non issue for horses started that way.

From the desk of the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork, Global Endurance Training Center

Dammit Jim! I'm a Writer, Not a Farrier!

I may not be a farrier, but that doesn't keep me from learning about hooves and looking at them.

Everyone who has Googled "laminae" (it’s what makes Friday nights so exciting now that we’re not out clubbing and staying up until all hours on the weekends) will have read that it’s “like Velcro”. It’s the grip between the sensitive bits and the insensitive bits. Sensitive bits are on the coffin bone, insensitive bits are on the hoofwall. They lock together unless your horse gets laminitis… and that’s about all we can conceptualize.

But how does the hoof grow “down” and the sole not fall off? How does it grow “down” past a coffin bone like some sort of demented sock? (If I tried pulling it off your foot, by the toe, it would just keep fabricating at your ankle and never come off. I could make it 10 feet away and that sock would still be at ankle height. TRIPPY.)

(Do NOT study hooves while using LSD. I haven’t done it… but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it would be the stuff of nightmares.)

To answer this question, let’s look at my least favorite fabric of all time: CORDUROY.

Fashionable: Apparently  Logical: NO

Naturally, when designing clothes, the inclination is to create long, lean lines, by running your corduroy fabric north-south, in vertical lines. Nothing is more slimming than the sound of my legs rubbing together in corduroy pants; like a human-sized cicada bug. In fact, I’m pretty sure the cave man discovered fire, because he had attempted to run in corduroy pants and created a blaze from the ensuing friction.

If they could only see the practicality of sewing corduroy in horizontal lines, then the fabric would slide against each other WITH the grain of the grooves. My thighs might LOOK wider in horizontal lines, but at least I wouldn’t sound like a bullfrog in mating season when walking across my living room.

Say no to fashion and yes to quiet legs!

That’s my smooth segue back to laminae: they groove from insensitive laminae to sensitive laminae like drawer slides.

  1. Hoofwall
  2. Insensitive Laminae
  3. Sensitive Laminae
  4. Coffin Bone

I should’ve drawn the coffin bone with a 5-degree angle or so. I’m drawing-limited when I use my mouse. The salient point is: the coffin bone has sprouted its Velcro and the hoofwall has its Velcro. Unlike Velcro, that has 50 million hooks and loops in all directions, we have more of a drawer slide system. Yes, the top rail (insensitive laminae) is locked onto the bottom rail (sensitive laminae) and allows the growing hoof wall to “slide” down the coffin bone and shed out/off the bottom. Or like properly-thought-out corduroy: it can slide in the direction that nature intends; going with the grain.

It doesn't work on pants, but it DOES work on laminae.

Won’t the hoof just slide off then?!?

Have you ever installed tongue and groove flooring? Have you ever snapped the next piece of wood into place and then realized it needed to “skootch” 1/8” to the left? Heaven and Earth can’t get it to move. You can “tap” it with a mallet and quickly find that you need a lot more force than a tap to get it to slide. Why? Because you generally have a groove that’s 6 feet long and there is a lot of friction and resistance to sliding.

Lucky for you, your horse’s hoof is a lot like stubborn flooring. It’s not going to slide down and off without a lot of growth and pushing. 

In knowing that the hoof is a conveyor-belt moving “down”, you have to consider what can stop the conveyor belt or, worse yet, cause it to “back up” at the production from the hairline.

Let's look at the flop of the hoof tubules and the spacing of the growth rings: what can we tell?

While they look like awesome elf socks, they are three patterns of growth rings: even growth, heel-faster-than-toe, toe-faster-than-heel.

You know when you fall asleep on the couch and you wake up with your arm paralyzed? It’s a painful lesson in blood flow as your arm prickles back to life. What we learn is: you can angle something in such a way that the blood flow will lessen or cut off entirely.

I’m not saying your hoof has to be shaped into a certain degree of angle to be healthy, but if your horse is growing lopsided rings: something is out of whack.

Heels growing faster than toes show no toe growth: not good.

Toes growing faster than heels show slow heel growth: not good.

It’s visibly like gathering, in sewing, to me. You have one side bunched and the other out-doing itself in length.

You, as the owner, can look at your growth rings and start the conversation with your farrier. I trim my own horses, so it’s a lot of awkward conversations with myself…most of the time yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

You can have issues with growth coming in, or lack thereof. The uneven growth pattern of a toe vs a heel. But what happens when your drawer slides start backing up? What if all the growth wants to come in, but what is touching the ground is “in the way”? You can get “pushed-up” sections of hoof. 

Let’s say I trimmed my horse and I left a lump on the hoofwall. I just didn’t notice. Now, she may or may not wear it off. If she’s got any sort of shoe or boot on and it’s not wearing, then she effectively has a lump in her “shoe” and the effect will be the drawer slide pushing back against the new growth.

You’ll see the ripple in the hoof wall. Like a stone thrown in a lake, you can see the pattern of movement by looking at ripples.

Now, as I wrote in the Polishing a Turd blog, sometimes we’re holding on, when we should be letting go. There is probably a bathing suit crammed into the back of a drawer that is waiting for me to let ‘er go too. In hooves, they want to abrade, crack, split and fall off. They want to grow (so that there is hoof at all) only to be worn. When they don’t get worn as fast as they are growing, they speed up the breaking process and flare, crack and split off.

"Tootles! Ta ta! See ya later!"

That horse is going to run into trouble when we keep the hoof from breaking.

You heard me right.

Keep. The. Hoof. From. Breaking.

The heel can flare out and the quarters go wide. The bars flop over. Looking at Cinder’s hoof after Winter:

It’s wider than long: 125mm x 115mm

Anatomically, she’s not wider than long, she just happens to have worn off the surplus toe growth and didn’t wear off the heel growth over winter. You can see a nice tight connection of sole to hoofwall at the toe, but overgrowth at the quarters and heels. When that surplus is trimmed down, she is then 115 by 115, a “round” hoof.

The problem she *could* have is, if I left that heel on and then bound it in such a way that it wasn’t allowed to flare… well then I would be pushing back on her drawer slides, wouldn’t I?

Look at her top hairline here. Looks even and sloping towards the heel. But when we looked at the sole, we saw how she was managing to do that: the drawer slides were pushing down and flaring OUT. If that heel area is not going to wear, it still has to get out of the way. We have a hint of the flare by looking at her hoof tubules and see that they are folding as we get closer to the heel.

We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line:

But we can also illustrate that, the steeper the angle, the longer our line can get away with being. Our up and down line is 43mm, and they sneakily get longer such as the increasing slopes being 45mm, 50mm, 55mm, 58mm, 65mm, etc. until we reach the final line which is 110mm long! The good part is, the hoof “drawer slides” are having no push back. The bad part is, that flare is REDONKULOUS and is playing havoc with the other team players in the hoof: namely the laminae.

Your laminae is like a make-up brush. If it’s short bristled, you have great control and connection. The makeup goes exactly where you want it to and will look great for hours.

The longer the bristle, the less control and connection you have with your brush. It’s going to start out bad and only get worse as the night goes on.

Have you ever seen a washing machine with an unbalanced load? At first it vibrates a little, then it vibrates a LOT and the shift of the load starts worsening and worsening. Your washer starts shimmying, but ends up galloping across your laundry room. Thank goodness there is a laundry room door, or it would get loose and roam your house. Here is a long hoofwall doing the washing machine shimmy.

We know that longer growth in the heels, left untrimmed, starts to flare them out. But what if you put shoes on them and tie those heels into position? Urethane or metal, if you keep that flare in, it’s like putting a corset on your hoof.

You gather in that heel flare and since it can’t go “out” to the side, it only has one place it can go: bolstered upright and spilling out of the top. Remember our lines? We started with a 44mm line and let it slope out to a 110mm line. If you grabbed that line and shoved it back into being upright, you would have this:

When I take a pushed up coronet band and compare it to Cinder’s hoof, you can see the natural hairline slope and how much more pushed up our top guy is. Horses do a lot of forward thrust and not a lot of spinning and brake-slamming. The toe gets nice abrasion and the quarters and heels don’t. Then you add a shoe (urethane or metal. In this instance it’s anything that will hold that heel in place and prevent it from –GASP- flaring. Heaven Forbid!) and you get the drawer slide backing up the hoof wall and pushing up the hairline, like a lovely bosom in a corset.

Here again, we’re going to see an example of the hairline being pushed back and up, because the heels are long and cannot flare out, so naturally, they must push back on their slides. The more vertical lines are dark green. The light green start to show divergence from uniformity, they are starting to bend further away from the parallel: they are longer and looking to escape pressure. They need to fold to “be longer” and stay in pace with the rest of the hoof. The further back the hoof goes, it naturally is shorter near the heel. In the case that the heels are long, they have to go somewhere, they will start bending even further off the parallel. I drew in the “Cinder line” on the right photo. Not only did the horse have the highest push-up in the back portion of the hairline, it was ALSO compensating by letting the hoof tubules fall farther out of parallel with the rest of the growth.

In two ways he’s saying: THIS IS TOO LONG.

Hoof tubules bending to allow more room while being long? CHECK.

Shoe keeping hoof from flaring so it has no choice by to push back up at the origin at the hairline? CHECK.

As an owner, take some time to read your hooves. You might not trim, but you have eyes! Pick up the feet and look for what the horse is trying to get rid of: sole that goes chalky and flakes out with just a hoofpick? You think your arm strength and that tiny piece of metal can flake out sole when your 800lb+ horse, romping around is somehow unable to? Hint: it must not be touching the ground or touching anything or it would’ve fallen out on its own. Solution: you gotta get it in contact with something. That could mean taking shoes off, trimming, adding gravel to a paddock or any number of things. All roads lead to Rome: get the hoof in contact with something that will wear it down.

Keep an eye on your flares if you are barefoot: the hoof is escaping outwards.

Keep an eye on your hairline if you are shod: the hoof is escaping upwards.

Your laminae connectivity will thank you.

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!