You Don't Know What You Don't Know

Submitted by Ashley Gasky, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

What to do when you don't know what you don't know:

Recently I read the report on Saddle Fit in the USDF Connection magazine. In it she stated that hind limb lameness was commonly correlated with saddle slipping, but often went unnoticed.

The whole concept scared me.  I could be riding a lame horse and not even know it!?

I was still reeling from the shock of Dr. Claytons article, judisicously studying the movement of my horses, and awaiting a call back from my saddle fitter when the American Farriers Association E-Zine hit my inbox. 

In reading the publication I saw a mention of hoof boots, it was in an article about bar shoes. One of the case studies was a horse who appeared to have suffered due to improper use of boots. The horse remained booted for an extended period of time supposedly at the hands of an apathetic boarding facility. 

The horse was subsquently rehabbed using bar shoes.  

These two articles really got my wheels turning: How do we know what we don't know?

I've certainly ridden horses with slipping saddles and used a variety of pads or strapping to hold things in place. And all the while "knowing" I would never intentionally work a lame horse.

 

I've also successfully rehabbed horses in hoof boots, and others in bar shoes. The art comes in knowing when to use what piece of equipment or bit of knowledge to be successful, or at the very least, humane.

What is a well intentioned horse lover to do when we just do not know what we don't know?

 Ask a trusted friend?
 Google it?
 Delve into 1,000's of pages of equine literature?
 Some combination of the above?

My answer is EDUCATION. Ask questions! Ask your vet, your farrier, your feed dealer, ask in a chat forum, read a book, attend a clinic.

If you are employing a professional who is either unwilling, or incapable of answering your questions look carefully at why you are loyal to their services.
Find good resources to get questions answered, and concerns dissuaged. Don't be afraid to get first, second and seventh opinions if an answer doesn't seem to "add up" in your scenario. You don't have to accept the things you CAN change

I offer the best advice I can to my clients with the knowledge I currently have. I've committed to continuing education through the American Association Of Professional Farriers, networking with top professionals in the industry, and keeping an open mind when presented with new information.

This is the same mind-set I have when making choices for my personal animals. I do the best I can with the knowledge and tools at my disposal. My promise is that I will not become complacent with my education, as every single day presents an oppotunity for learning.

No matter the circumstance, I believe its important to make value based decisions with the information you have, and remember that what you know is subject to change. 

But most of all, you must not blame yourself for not knowing what you didn't know.

The Forcing Function

Submitted by Karen Neuenschwander, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Garrett Ford recently posted a blog about a lack of quality hoof care, and posed the question of how to bring about change. Coincidentally, my husband and I had just been discussing the topic of what causes people to make positive changes. We have both made some new commitments in the past year: My husband, Jace, began running ultra marathons, and I have returned to endurance riding. We both agree that we are much better off now that we are participating in our respective sports, but what caused us to finally commit to something that we knew would require serious dedication in order to simply get to the finish line?
 
In order to make the jump from our former slacker selves to the new improved versions, we needed some extra motivation. Jace calls it a "forcing function." A forcing function is a circumstance that makes choosing change a less painful alternative than maintaining the status quo. For both of us, that meant entering our races well ahead of time. Once the entry fee was paid, our pride and our pocketbooks wouldn't let us back out! Even when the weather or work threw us off of our conditioning schedules, we found ways to work around the difficulties, because that race date was looming ahead on the calendar!

Jace made each of us a training spreadsheet to stick on the fridge. The weather caused some major editing!

When it comes to making changes in hoof care, I think forcing functions play a big role. For years, I was content to allow someone else to be an "expert" on my horses' hooves. Even when I knew that they were not getting the best care, I carried on for a while longer because the process of finding someone or something better seemed too daunting. It wasn't until the Army moved us to the middle of the Mojave Desert, where farriers were extremely scarce and expensive, that I finally decided to learn to trim my own horses. For a lot of people, their forcing function comes in the form of a severe hoof related condition such as laminitis or navicular, where relief only comes from making some major changes from traditional horsekeeping and hoof care.

Our backyard in the Mojave: beautiful and desolate.

So what can we do to help make good hoof health more universal? Can we "force" a forcing function? Of course not. But as I was beginning to open up to the idea of making a change in the way I cared for my horses' feet, there were some people out there who gave me encouragement. They had horses with strong, healthy feet. They were trying some of the newer forms of hoof protection and having a lot of success. Most importantly, they were happy to answer my questions, and they provided reassurance without being pushy or judgmental. People tend to notice and comment when they ride with someone using Easyboots or EasyShoes. What a great opportunity for a conversation about hoof health. Perhaps by sharing a personal story about your own forcing function, you can help motivate someone else to seek better care for their horse's hooves. So what was your "forcing function?"

The Art of the EasyShoe Sport, A Few Tips From a Pro

Submitted by Tennessee Lane, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

This past weekend I had the pleasure of having my EasyShoe Sports applied by Derick Vaughn. I just want to share some pics I took during the process and make note of some tricks that I, personally, had not yet picked up on, although it was pointed out to me that "it's all in the pamphlet," LOL.  These pictures were taken at this past weekend's Antelope Island Endurance Ride. The horse (Bluff,) did the 100-miler there wearing these EasyShoe Sports and finished strong and sound.  He encountered everything from steep to flat and extremely rocky terrain (like REALLY rocky,) to hard packed roads, to perfectly shallow sand, to deep sand, to firm dirt. He covered the 100 miles of diverse terrain at all gaits, steady slow climbs and descents, galloping climbs, long cantering sessions, long trotting sessions, even some sideways running through boulder fields and sagebrush (because he's still learning, and we might have had some disagreements on pace, and so briefly lost brakes and power steering on a few occasions until we came to an understanding.)

I have glued this product on several times before with great success using only adhere and a rasp, they have protected my horses' feet through several multidays and 100's that way. That's easy and awesome but Derick did an AMAZING job so here are the main differences... (Pictures will follow with corresponding #s.)  If you haven't already been through this process then you should consider watching the application videos for this product, because I'm not going through it all here, I'm just noting a few things that definitely got my attention while watching a pro turn my simple trim into a work of art. I thought I would share since some of you might want to raise the bar on your process.

My observations:  #1 He used Adhere (fast set up) on the bottom and Bond (slower set up) on the wings.  #2 He used a "Buffy" power tool that greatly reduces work/time while improving everything from functionality to aesthetics. I've been thinking that I could live with out one, but I was wrong, it's official, I can't live without one.  #3   He used a hoof nail, driven into the toe of the EasyShoe, to prevent the hoof from slipping forward when it was first set down after the bottom was glued. He was sure to place that nail in such a way that the breakover was exactly where he wanted it. (This was the most important trick I picked up on, I'm not sure how I missed that on the first go'round.) #4 Did I mention the Buffy?  #5 He sealed the edges with super glue to prevent "the beginning of the end," and keep all the bond-to-hoof edges sealed tight. Beautiful overkill and much appreciated by Bluff and I. Thank you, Derick, for your attention to detail and for enlightening me! You're an artist!

#1 The white glue used on the wings is the Bond (finished product shown)

#2   Using the Buffy as an extra step in the hoof prep routine, it was later used to clean up the glue job once everything had setup. 

#3  The nail keeps the hoof from sliding forward for that brief second when it's still wet and they put weight on it, where you place it allows you to adjust breakover.

#4 The Buffy beautifies...

#5 Super Glue polish job

Absolutely beautiful! 

AND IMMEDIATELY AFTER 100 MILES...still fabulous!

The "Sports" are an awesome product, I've been testing them for a year or so now and I plan to use them them again, and often. I did feel a bit naked on the rocks, with his little frogs and soles unprotected and unsupported, when they usually are protected and supported in products like Gloves, Glue-Ons and the EasyShoe Performance.  Regardless, they protected my horse's hooves in extremely rocky conditions very successfully so I STILL have no complaints to think of. I would especially consider them at rides where, instead of worrying about rocks, I'm worried about traction on turf, or in mud, snow or sand. They're also great to leave on for a full trim cycle. Love them!

 

Spring Start Up

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Even though we had a nice, mild winter and we got lots of riding done, spring still brings with it a renewed energy, increased riding schedule and plans for the distance riding season.
Along with dusting the winter coat off my horses I pull out all my Easyboots to inspect, re-evaluate fit and replace any parts that may be becoming worn. 

I have quite the array of styles in my tack room these days and as far as repairs go I rarely have to do any at all, although having said that just last weekend I had a cable fray on one of my million mile Epics I and took the Quick studs out of my Gloves. All easy-peasy stuff and there are many blogs and instructional videos on how to get it done on the EasyCare website – like here for instance "Repairing an Easyboot Epic Cable"

Re-evaluating fit isn’t difficult either just bring in your trusty mount, give them a fresh trim, measure their feet and compare it against the size chart of your selected boot – still look good? Now we get to ride!
Just as I get everything cleaned up I make quick work of heading out and getting it dirty all over again – I’m not easy on my gear but the Easyboot products sure stand up to wear and tear.

We have competitions coming up in 4 weeks for my gelding “KC” and 6 weeks for my mare “Marina”. They’re both loving getting back into the groove and seem invigorated by the spring air.

We’re racking up many many miles in our Easyboot Gloves and Epics and my project horse with the flared feet is loving her Easyboot Backcountry’s. 

I’m looking forward to the nicer weather and many miles on horseback with my Easyboots underfoot keeping my horses comfortable every step of the way!

 

 

Retained Soles: Stop Polishing a Turd

Only a month ago, my filly was still cannon-deep in fresh powder.

Summer brings hard-packed, baked-clay earth that chips off flares and wears out toes. Fall brings mud and no abrasion and leaves frogs soggy and thrushy. Winter brings snow, beautiful clean snow. I think snow hooves are my favorite

What I like about snow hooves is the way they seem almost clinically preserved. You can see all your sole-hoof wall connectivity and gaps. You can see your bars. You can see your collateral grooves and the health of your frog.

I went running in the snow in the winter.

The differences between mud and snow becomes immediately apparent as soon as you try running in it. Snow compacts into hard snow and ice. Ice is pretty darned scratchy. I have never been cut by mud, but I’ve been wrecked by snow. It’s not all hot cocoa and 80’s ski suits. Looking at snow hooves, my little filly was definitely showing ample sole abrasion from traversing across a snowy field each day.

Enter exhibit 2, Stella.

What caught my attention first was that she had flaky sole. I could run over it with a hoof pick and get white flake and crumble.

In my super-simplistic view on hooves, I see if something is falling out, falling apart, flaking, cracking, chipping or shedding: the horse is trying to get rid of it. You can look for these little markers and know that the horse decided they don’t want it. So the question becomes, if they don’t want it, why is it still there? It must be being held back.

Now, Stella came with long hooves (let’s look back). Even with her goat feather growing down, you can tell she’s got some long toes. Adding insult to injury, two of her shoes had fallen off, they had been left on so long:

While Cinder didn’t have long hooves and was able to abrade and shed, Stella couldn’t. Same diet, same travel, same footing. One shed her sole and the other retained it.

Those who know me know that I tend to have a story for everything. You can mention train schedules in NYC and I will “have a time when…” something like that happened to me. Here’s one of those seemingly unrelated Holly-jumps, that totally made sense to me. (Of course, because I AM Holly!)

I was looking at a contract plastic mold manufacturer (of course I was!) and they had a guide book for how to best design your mold. Sort of like, “Please read this and we might skip 27 versions of the disaster you are going to ask us to make for you.” One of the things I thought was fascinating was that your plastic would inject in, mold, and have to self-express. It needed to be able to pop out on its own.

Illustration courtesy of www.mdiproducts.com

There were pages upon pages for ratios in height to width to ensure your product didn’t buckle as it tried to express itself. The plastic, being toasty-hot, would expand in the setting-up process and, if the design was right, it would pop itself out of the mold. If the walls were too long, too straight, etc. it would retain the product or (at worst) it would warp while half trying to express and half being retained.

It looked like the battle of my legs trying to get in and out of jeans that were too small. It was going to get ugly.

This got me to thinking of excess hoof wall length and its potential effect on holding in a sole.

The first difference I noted in the girls, was that Cinder had a fairly good line of connection between her sole and hoof wall and Stella had a scraggly gap. I marked Cinder's in color grades. Cinder had a smooth polished connection in the green and light green areas of her toe, spanning out to the sides, I could easily see where her wall was longer than her sole and didn’t have as close a connection. The quarters and heels were starting to flare out, pulling away from their connection to the sold. The bars were slightly too long (not world-ending) and ended up breaking off on their own (I left them alone). Her frog ended up shedding a layer as well.

Stella’s looked much clearer in photo resolution, so I didn’t need to mark hers.

You can see the tiny lines of laminae along her longer hoof wall. The sole has not been knifed, yet has all sorts of dents and dimples in it. It has the dirt marbling of the cracks, or fissures, that denote that section of sole would be flaking and coming out. Unlike my thighs, horses don’t get varicose veins in their hooves. Her heels are taller, her frog recessed by the height of the bar growth and heel height.

Something to illustrate on sole perception: It’s old news. No really, I don’t mean to be funny about it, it’s reading the past. It’s what she’s grown OUT, not what she is growing IN. Sort of like looking at the tips of your hair instead of the roots. You might’ve dyed your hair 20 times and drank a total of 400 gallons of coffee by the time that hair on the end has reached the “end”. My hair grows about 6 inches a year. So hair that is a foot long, on my head, has an age of about 2 years at the tips. Oh the places my hair has been! Same with soles. I don’t scream when I see “stuff” show up. I don’t freak out when the laminae shows signs of stretch. They are the back of the boat, the wake. I am already steering in a different direction. See my next blog on Tracking With Your Laminae, for more on seeing laminae lines when your hoof wall is growing out.

So let’s say your horse has very solid walls, growing down. He essentially has a mold with too steep and confining of walls for that sole to either 1) make contact with the ground to gradually abrade, or 2) to slough off huge chunks of sole, due to them being penned in.

Luckily, the hoof has a mechanism for this: the walls will start to flare and give wiggle room to the sole to express.

On Stella, I didn’t see a nice thick wall. I saw a flared wall, that was thick because it was bent out and ground flat. I saw lack of connection from the hoof wall to the sole. She has connection, but it’s hiding under a layer of dead sole. In my picture above, I have grayed out the hypothetical depth of sole that was going to shed out. I have indicated the beginning of the flare. From the flare downward, you won’t see a tight knit with the sole. It will have pockets and be gappy. That’s just the indication that you’re dealing with old, dead, excess.

You will want to note the large rimmed walls. I have seen people brag about how thick their horse’s hoof wall is and yet it’s not connected to the sole. That’s not the true thickness of your hoof wall, that’s a flare that has beveled itself into an apparent wideness. Almost like a hand of cards, it’s a “Flush Flare”. And the issue with that is, it is a flare. You are dealing with old news. You need to get ahead of the flare to get better connection. Leaving the flare there by not seeing the lack of connection, by not seeing it as a flare, means you are polishing a turd.

Your connection is higher up and hidden from view by your sole being retained. You aren’t gauging how much flare is there. So you leave it. That hoof wall will continue to pull and be strained. With standing on soft ground, your hoof isn’t wearing and you will need to address the hoof walls to help the sole discard. Here is a 16.1h 1,200 horse. He should have the weight and bulk to wear his feet, yet he’s on soft ground.

It almost looks like a decent hoof. At first glance and from across a pasture, you wouldn't think he was doing too bad.

Lifting the hoof up, we see how unsupportive this hoof is.

Looking at Stella’s hinds, we see a sole a bit more like Cinders: uniform abrading of the sole, some wall height that is surplus, less flare and (if the small amount of excess is trimmed) a bar/heel height that is more on par with the height of the frog.

Next time you are looking at your bare hooves and see “nice, thick, healthy walls” but no connectivity to the sole, check and make sure you are not, in fact, dealing with a flare and a false sole. It happens to me every once in a while and I sigh and say to myself, "Holly, you're polishing a turd."

 

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!

Fueling for Farriery

Submitted by Deanna Stoppler, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Farriers burn through a large amount of calories when working under horses. I consider the workout of farriery akin to wrestling. It's a slow kind of effort, sustained, like holding a wall squat until your quads spasm and you slide down to the floor. On average a wrestler who weighs 150-160 lbs burns between 200-300 calories per hour of wrestling. After a big day of trimming and shoeing my body feels pummeled, my quads heavy like wooden stumps, hands slightly swollen and stiff, and at times I suffer from an overall sense of malaise.

If I have ingested adequate calories and proper hydration, perhaps followed by an Epsom salt bath, I will most likely feel like a superhero in a matter of a day.  If, on the other hand, I failed to snack, worked through lunch, and slurped only a few gulps of water, I will suffer undue stress and most likely get delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). 

DOMS occurs 12-72 hours after an intensive load on the muscle.  If a farrier is not accustomed to being under horses all day for a day or more, DOMS is likely to occur.

Before becoming a farrier I was an ultrarunner—a runner who completes foot races over 26.2 miles.  The longest race I ever ran was a 72-mile trail ultramarathon. Through trial and error during races, I figured out how to best fuel myself during a run and how to recover afterward. And even though I no longer race or run, the same techniques that helped me as an ultrarunner work for fueling as a farrier.

Deanna Stoppler competing in the Rockin K 50 mile trail run

Proper hydration and fueling are two ways for a farrier to stay happy and healthy while in the field and after a long day.

Proper hydration.  Ultrarunners need to be in tune with their hydration and electrolyte balances, particularly on super hot or very cold days. Hydration isn’t just about ingesting water, it’s about ingesting water and electrolytes together so the body can absorb the water rather than flush it away.

Dehydration and hyponatremia (drinking more water than the body can absorb) are serious concerns in hot AND cold weather and if you are under any kind of physically challenging stressors.

My go to electrolyte replacement product is the Nuun tab.  Sugar free (stevia is used instead of sugar) and portable, Nuun tabs are easy to use and less likely to upset the stomach as a sweetened electrolyte fluid such as Gatorade.  

Nuun tabs

Tropical flavor Nuun tabs

Another option for those who don’t like the flavor of electrolyte drinks is ingesting an electrolyte tablet, such as Succeed! S Caps. S Caps are taken at a rate dependent on water loss and need to be taken with water.  As with any supplement, it is very important to follow the label instructions and listen to your body.

Succeed S! Caps

Fueling. Don’t forget your meal, and if you do, no worries.  When running 10+ hours it was very difficult for me to fuel with solid foods.  I became very good at setting my watch and keeping track of when it was time to take an S Cap and when it was time to have an energy shot. 

Energy shots are compact products that provide a burst of easily digestible calories. Perfect when crunched for time or feeling a sudden lull in stamina.  My favorite energy shots are GU Energy, which provide 100 calories per packet. Another option is GU Sport Beans, jellybeans infused with quick energy and electrolytes!

Tri-Berry GU energy gel

Nuun tabs, Succeed. S Caps, GU shots, and GU jellybeans are a few of many energy items on the market.

As ultrarunners tell each other, You are an experiment of one. You need to figure out what works for your digestive system and how much to fuel depending on your activity, sweat rate, and body size.

References

American College of Sports Medicine (2011). Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Retrieved from https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-%28doms%29.pdf.

Health Status (2015). About the calorie burn calculator. Retrieved from http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2015). Diseases and conditions hyponatremia. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/basics/definition/con-20031445.

 

Tevis 2015: Meet Easyboot Elite Team Member Deanna Stoppler

Submitted by Ashley Gasky, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Deanna Stoppler AF is a member of the 2015 Easyboot Elite team. She is among 5 other elite professionals charged with the task of gluing on boot shells to equine competitors at the 2015 Tevis Endurance race.

Deanna began her hoof care career in 2011, riding with a local farrier, then completing a semester at Mission Farrier School(MFS) in May of 2012. After MFS, Deanna began coursework with Daisy Haven Farm: School of Integrative Hoofcare and has 137 hours in coursework to her credit. Currently she maintains a busy schedule; trimming, shoeing in metal and plastic, glues on shoes, and sizing for EasyCare boots. An average month will have her working on upwards of 160 horses. 

Deanna lives and works in Fairfax, Vermont with her husband, Dave, three dogs, and two horses. Growing up in Alberta, Canada she has an affinity for the cooler northern climates, and actually complains about the hot summers of Vermont, though she appreciates having four solid seasons and the awesome autumn landscape. 

Living in a rural community has provided Deanna with a sense of small town loyalty and camaraderie."You can find good coffee almost anywhere in the state; small general stores that have been around for over 100 years, where owners know their customers by name and it's easy to find fresh baked cinnamon buns if you stop first thing in the morning", she claims.

From the small family farms, bounty of horses, and rugged scenery to look at as she drives from barn to barn, or to explore on days off, she enjoys the sweet offerings of Vermont life. Maple syrup is a Vermont tradition, and one that Deanna and family are happy to support.   

When asked to choose three of the greatest influences to her hoof care practice Deanna names Mark Plumlee, Daisy Bicking, and Esco Buff. Mark Plumlee, owner and instructor of Mission Farrier School, taught Deanna everything she needed to know to get out in the workplace and start a farriery business. "He taught me confidence, how to speak to clients, and how to manage a successful farrier business." she notes. 

Daisy Bicking, owner of Daisy Haven Farm, "advanced my trimming skill set and helped me approach founder in a new way" says Deanna. "She taught me more about gluing on plastic shoes and how to approach my trim using radiographs as a tool".  Deanna and Daisy traveled to Lagos, Nigeria in 2013 to shoe polo ponies and educate the local farriers. 

Deanna credits Esco Buff with continuing her radiography skill set and helping her think about trimming and shoeing in regard to whole horse balance.

While the challenges of being a farrier, and running a hoof care business are many, Deanna lists three she perceives to be the most influential:

1. Horse obesity and founder as a result. If I can teach the owners to be proactive before their horse has a problem, that’s most of the battle, often though I find that horses that are obese are not necessarily viewed by the owner as obese. It’s difficult to change that owner mind set.

2. Moisture. We live in a very wet environment in Vermont. The feet take a beating with humidity and wet conditions. I look forward to working on CA feet at the Tevis Cup. Dry hooves=heaven!

3.Trying to help the horse while navigating through different theoretical approaches about hoof care with veterinarians. Not all approaches are the same and it can be tricky meeting on common ground."

In the excitement building up to Tevis 2015 Deanna is most excited to experience the camaraderie of the elite team. Stating "I’m very excited to spend the days working side by side with professionals as passionate as myself. To focus on a common goal with a group of talented farriers. To feeling the excitement as prepare horses' feet for the grueling 100-mile race. Team memories being made. Can't wait!"

The proudest moment of Deanna's hoof care career came as a result of her trip to Nigeria. 

"After I returned home, one of the farriers that I had worked with, Bello Gali, sent me an email with a photo of a foot that he had mapped and shod. I was very proud that he was reflecting on his work and felt it was important to share with me. From the photo is was obvious that he had retained the information I taught him. I will never forget the happiness of seeing that photo and how proud I felt."

You may have met Deanna, perhaps more than once, or even had her work on your horses, but did you know she HITCHHIKED from Maine, USA to Alberta, Canada during a college break? It was an exciting, frightening, and unforgettable journey. Be sure to ask her why this is her favorite song.

 

It's Getting Hot

No, not discussing politics. Sorry to disappoint you if you expect a juicy commentary. Not talking about the upcoming summer temperatures. Actually talking about a killer heat. And no, not discussing global warming either.

Rather a heat that will kill bacteria, spores and fungi so EasyShoes and Easyboot Glue-Ons can be safely applied. 

Before applying any glue, for example Vettec Adhere, to any hooves, these have to be dry and clean from soil and dust. Otherwise the adhesion will be compromised and the shoes and boots might not stay on. Adhesion is only one of our concerns, of equal importance is that the harmful bacteria. Spores and fungi are not getting any chance of doing harm inside the boot once it is glued on the hoof. To achieve this goal, we have some tools available to thoroughly sanitize the hooves and literally burn off any of the damaging parasites. I would encourage you to revisit some of the Glue on Educational Videos produced by EasyCare. Also helpful might be to revisit my blog from two years ago about gluing Easyboots.

To achieve our goal, we have a few options available.

1. Heat Guns. 

With these tools, available at just about any hardware store, we can get the temperatures high enough to kill any harmful bacteria and thoroughly dry the hoof wall and sole. When using them a couple of times a week, they typically last one year. It seems they build in such a short life span in all brands, so that we all have to buy a new one on a yearly basis. A more expensive heat gun will not last longer, just might produce a little more heat.

This model has a variable temperature setting, nice to have especially when temps are cold. It is important to keep the heat gun very close to the horses hoof, otherwise the desired effect of burning off harmful bacteria cannot get achieved. Hold it as close to the hoof as half an inch. You might want to feel, hear and observe a little burning  of hoof material.

Here the hoof rasp shavings are just getting brown and cinched. A good sign that you achieved the right heat to dry and sanitize the hoof wall and sole.

2.Hardware Store Torch

Torches are hotter compared to a heat gun. You do not need a power supply, so they are great in the field. The torch also has a pointed flame, ideal to get into the collateral grooves. Because of the higher heat setting, you only need a few seconds to dry and sanitize the hoof.

This model is fairly inexpensive. Works great if there is no wind. With any wind higher than 10 mph, the flame will extinguish.

3. Bonjour Torch

This torch you can get from kitchen supply stores or Amazon. It is commonly used for flambeaus and Creme Brulees. A little bigger compared to the Bernzomatic above, it produces a slightly higher temp and can withstand higher winds. 15 mph are about the limit on this one.

For both models listed above, you need a refill bottle, easily available at hardware stores. To refill the torches, turn them upside down, push the filler cap into the fill opening and push down.

4. AD Kitchen Firebird Torch

This torch is even hotter. Available also at Amazon. A gas bottle attaches directly to the burner. Easy to use, it can handle even higher winds, up to 20 mph.

The Firebird torch is a nice handy tool, easy to use. A disadvantage is the fact that it needs about a 2 minute warm up period. Otherwise flaring will occur when you tilt the torch more than 15 degrees from the vertical, which you will have to do when using it on the hoof. Just let it stand for two minutes to warm up, then you can angle it whichever way you like.

Don't burn yourself or your horse, just kill the bacteria. Select the model and type that will fit your needs the best.

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com

 

The Courage to Change

In a recent blog Garrett Ford wrote "It pains me to develop boots for horse’s feet that are poorly maintained but after 45 years in the marketplace we are seeing the quality of hoof care decline and it's something I cannot change. There seems to be less education opportunities, fewer trained professionals, the trained professionals are booked and can’t keep up. What do you think needs to happen to bring our equine hoof health to the next level. How can we change and improve our current education opportunities?"

Like Garrett, myself and my partner have been involved in the barefoot trimming industry right from day one. But not in the U.S. - we are based in Australia.

After I learned more about the true needs of the hoof to function properly, keeping horses barefoot just made perfect sense to me. I felt it was not a choice anymore. Perhaps because I was an Equine Massage therapist and had in interest in equine biomechanics before I learned barefoot trimming, when I “felt” the amazing muscular changes it made to the entire horse I knew it was changing much more than just their hooves.

I wanted to share this information with others as it seemed so cruel to me that so many generations of horses had lived, and died on crippled feet. It seemed so unfair that they had a lesser quality of life simply because they were locked 24/7 onto steel shoes.

To help others find this information we created Equethy Barefoot Trimming workshops for horse owners and then later we started Easycare Down Under to give barefoot riders access to great hoof protection for their barefoot horses.

Back in those early days I was very lucky to meet two amazing people, Andrew and Nicole Bowe (The Barefoot Blacksmith). Andrew was a Master Farrier looking for the holy grail of hoof care (a cure for navicular) and Nicole, his wife, a vet nurse who looked after the laminitic horses in their care. They were also frustrated at the lack of formal training for professional barefoot trimmers.

So together we created a course to meet this growing need. To do this we drew on the incredible range of talented educators we had met through our interest in barefoot. People like Professor Robert Bowker whose amazing research is the benchmark for our understanding of why barefoot works. Eventually we created a Diploma level course (Equine Podiotherapy) based around specialist rehabilitation strategies for serious hoof issues using barefoot principles.

I only mention all the above so that I you can see we have tried very hard to change hoof care here, and to offer background for my perspective below in answer to Garrett’s question.

Nearly every day, I speak to horse owners who have turned their horse’s hoof health around. People who have gone outside their comfort zones and tried something new and been rewarded by great successes. But what most of these conversations has in common is that these horse owners feel uncomfortable because they have often gone against traditional hoof care recommendations from their vets to save their horses. Because of this they just don’t tell the vets.

So, in answer to Garrett’s question, I feel that the biggest stumbling block to improving hoof care at this time is the lack of knowledge by our veterinary profession about the number of horses whose lives have already been changed by barefoot. I believe that this is because vets do not see the work of the barefoot trimmer so they do not know about its powerful healing or the huge numbers of horses that already have better hooves & bodies because of it. They see only traditional shoeing with all the usual outcomes that follow from that.

I have equine vets as friends, and say that their university training was crammed with a billion lessons about a squillion animals, and that equine hoof care was but a tiny tiny part of their training. Basically they were taught to just head for the traditional shoeing options. To use corrective shoeing and drugs, plus they were told that “horses just have bad feet” and most of their work will therefore be “salvage” procedures.

I feel that if more vets, especially top equine vets, could actually see what is happening at the coal face they would explore the research further. If they could just see the cases where the trimmers have changed the outcomes where traditional options have been tried and failed, then they would embrace and recommend barefoot/booted as the norm for all horses.

So if you have a barefoot horse that has benefited from being barefoot trimmed; be brave, and take a stand for a better quality of life for all horses. Write your vet a lovely email. Send him a photo of your horse’s hooves. Thank him/her for the wonderful care they offer your animals and tell them why you have moved away from traditional hoof care and invite him/her to call in and have a look at your horse. I believe that it will make a difference.

Horses are such gentle creatures, if we choose to have them in our lives we are also responsible for the quality of their lives too.

Name: Chrisann Ware
City: Milton
State: New South Wales
Country: Australia
Equine Discipline: Other
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove Back Country

 

How to Use Easyboot Epics Successfully

EasyCare currently offers numerous options for your horse's hoof protection such as the Easyboot Glove, the Easyboot Glove Back Country and the Easyboot Trail to name a few. All of these boots are wonderful choices, but my tried and true favorite is the Easyboot Epic.

The current Epic has been around since 2005 and was voted Horse Journal Product of the Year in 2006. The Easyboot Epic can be used for every kind of riding from weekend trail riding to endurance. If you have a horse with hoof problems such as laminitis or navicular, or if you have just pulled your horse's shoes and are looking for a boot, the Epic can be used with both our 12mm Comfort Pads or our 6mm Comfort Pads to give added cushioning to your horse's hooves. You can also turn your horse out in the Epic boot.

Over the years of working at EasyCare, I have accumulated some critical tips for using the Easyboot Epic. Listed below are a few of my favorites.

  • Cable/Buckle - Sometimes when using the boot, you find that the cable may be a little too long and you cannot get the boot to tighten down enough. You should have to step on the buckle to close it, if you can close it with your hand it is not tight enough (I am talking to the ladies here). If you need a little less length you can order a cable that is a size smaller than your boot. So if your boot is a size 1, you can order a size 0 cable.
  • Comfort Strap - Most of the time you need this strap in the boot: it helps hold the hoof down in the boot, but occasionally you will have hoof measurements that just need a smidge more length for a good fit. When this is the case, there are two options: you can cut out the comfort strap right where they connect to the tapers (see picture below, the taper is the plastic pieces on the end with the holes) or you can remove the comfort strap completely and order a pair of tapers (with out the heel strap attached) to install in the boot.

 

Comfort Pad - Depending on your horse's hoof measurements, sometimes one size in the Epic is too small and the next size up is going to be a tad too big. If this is the case, you can use our 12 mm comfort pads in the boot to help take up some room. When using pads for this purpose, I like to recommend the firm pads because they will last a little bit longer.  

As always, if you have any questions regarding any of our EasyCare products please contact our customer service at 1-800-447-8836.

Shari Murray

easycare-customer-service-shari-murray

Customer Service

If you call the customer service help desk, you’ll probably get me on the phone! I process repairs, returns, credits and exchanges that come into EasyCare.