Mark, Mustangs, EasyShoes and Winning!

Mark Montgomery is known for adopting, breaking, training and racing BLM Mustangs in the sport of endurance. Mark is a gifted horseman and is usually seen winning and receiving best condition at most endurance events!

Mark and Woody on the way to first place. Photo courtesy of Steve Bradley.

Mark took several of his mustangs to this years XP Death Valley Encounter. The 200 mile event is known for abrasive footing, fast speeds and changes in elevation. Mark has recently switched to the EasyShoe Performance N/G on his horses and is tickled with the results. Mark and Woody came home with the overall 200 mile fastest time and overall best condition at this years event.  

Woody's EasyShoe Performance N/G before the event.

Woody's EasyShoe Performance N/G after 200 fast and abrasive miles.

Thank you Mark for putting the EasyShoes to the test! They obviously work for some of the toughest trails in the USA and at the same time allow hoof mechanism.  

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.

Toby's Conditioning Made Easy

Submitted by Jennifer Storey, EasyCare Customer

I purchased Toby in May of 2016 as my summer project pony. The environment he lived in was deep mud, his grain was deer feed, his feet were untrimmed and extremely long. After chiropractic work and a good barefoot trim I fitted Toby with Easyboot Epics. Then we went to work on conditioning for a ride we had scheduled in August at Otter Creek.

See Toby and I had our work cut out for us if we were going to be riding with 16hd high horses with a big walk, trot and canter. Bless him he is a typical pony with a big heart and no quit. We covered 36 miles in three days over rocks, sand, hills and mud. It couldn't have been done with out the Epics. They worked great in all conditions without rubbing or coming off.  Thanks EasyCare for making my conditioning and Toby's comfort easy to get accomplished. I will never be without some pair of Easyboots on all my ponies. Maybe someday I will get to try Glue-Ons

 

Magnus, The Icelandic Pony

Submitted by Sabine Uschmann Maurer, EasyCare Customer

In January we bought our first Icelandic horse, as we really missed our ponies that have left us to canter on the evergreen pasture. We also own three Shagya Arabs, but we missed something. To have ponies is so much fun and the riding is sometimes different than the ride on the horse. So one day I found an advertisement with a very nice picture of a black Icelandic horse with the sweetest expression I have seen. We went for a visit. It was cold and rainy and there was this tiny pony, his name, Magnus. I was immediately in love.

After some days of thinking we decided that Magnus was our Pony. As all our horses were and are barefoot I asked to have his shoes pulled before he came to our place. So many people told me to not do it; those horses needs shoes, he will never show you his different gaits, he will not be able to walk etc. But, I wanted to give it a try at least. The first weeks were hard, the integration was difficult and he was sensitive outside. My horses were not very amused about this new pony and the pony himself was very angry. But after a few weeks on our big pasture they settled down, finally, and today we have a lot of harmony in the group.

When it comes to riding, we were looking for the right boot. Finally, the all ‘simple’ (for me still the best!) Original Easyboot were the choice.  We had some size #0 and #00 left from our endurance pony (which by the way made over 2000 miles of races in Easyboots). They fit great on his hoofs. After some moments he accepted the boots very well and was nice to ride on the trails.

Today, after almost one year, he can go on trails without boots and we do have rocky trails. He can show all his gaits with boots (he has five gaits!). And so many ‘specialists’ told us, he would never show the ‘Toelt’ or the ‘Pass’ with hoof boots, he could only show this with shoes. Look at the picture. Best proof.

My 12-yr old son is riding Magnus and they have a lot of fun together. I am more than happy that he can walk and run so easily with his Easyboots. That proves again, do not listen to what some else tells you, try first and see if it works or not. Next year we plan some tiny endurance rides, kids rides and will see if they will have even more fun together.

I could write so much more, about all our successful horses, running with Easyboots, but this time, it is just about Magnus, and our Happiness with the Original Easyboot. Thank you, EasyCare!

Patience is a Virtue

Submitted by Tanya Robertson, EasyCare Customer

With the purchase of a new horse in June 2016, I set out with a purpose. In my mind my aim was simple, transition my new gelding from metal shoes to boots. I am not the most patient person in the world and I never will be. When I get something in my mind I want it done right away, now, if not yesterday. Instant success is addicting! This partnership with my horse is a journey that I continue to learn from and teaches me patience.

I have tried other boots on other horses. Everything from boots that when the wire broke you had to make sure you were carrying spare zap straps with you, to big clompy boots that flew off into the bush when cantering. I read the reviews, searched the forums and decided on the Easyboot Gloves. Only one local tack store had them and they were over priced. I was already getting impatient. I didn't bother ordering the sizing kit and instead traced my horses feet on cardboard, measured, re-measured and jumped on buying a set of four size #1.5's online at a reasonable price. I found a farrier willing to work with me and who understood my purpose. When the hauler arrived and my new horse came off the shipping trailer he was barefoot in the hind and had metal shoes with clips in the front. I have no idea why. First things first, off with the metal shoes! 

After a few trail rides in the wet West Coast over bridges, on rocks and through rivers I was very happy with my new Easyboot Gloves. They stayed on, didn't rub or fill up with rocks and debris. We could walk, trot, canter and the boots didn't go flying off into the bush! Success, or so I thought. Another visit from my farrier and he pointed out some stone bruises. I questioned if I should put metal shoes back on. Was I doing the right thing? Was my horse uncomfortable? I cringed every time I watched him walk barefoot across rocks like he was walking on egg shells. My horse came to me with a thin hoof wall and feet that barely grew between the eight week visits with my farrier. I knew I had to get his feet stronger so I changed up his diet and started adding Biotin.

After less than a month of riding in size #1.5's the gaiter stitching ripped from the boot while cantering on the road. EasyCare was fantastic to deal with and I received a replacement under their 90 day replacement warranty. I started venturing out on rides with friends and kept having a boot come off. I would have to ask everyone to stop and wait while I put the offending boot back on, usually while teetering on a small winding mountain trail with a drop off. I was getting frustrated.  The gaiter was staying on but the shell of the boot was coming off, dangling around my horses leg. So while the boot didn't go flying off into the bush it was still coming off. 

I questioned the process the whole way. Always asking myself if I was doing what was best for my horse. I posted on forums asking others for insight on how long this transition would take and if I should just give up and go back to metal shoes. Questioning my farrier and the process, hovering over his every move. Contacting EasyCare looking for answers. You always get a plethora of opinions from horse people but the majority encouraged me to continue on. All the support I had helped me go from one failure to the next without giving up. 

Another visit with my farrier and he told me I was using the wrong size. The same day I ordered half a size smaller and put my existing boots up for sale. When the new size arrived I continued to strap them on like I had the larger size. Another mistake. The Velcro gaiter was now overly tight and started to rub and cause blisters. I had to give my horse time off the trails to heal and could only go barefoot in the hog fuel arena. I was itching to ride the trails again. A couple emails with EasyCare and I decided to try doing up the Velcro gaiter much looser. Success! No more rubbing! I really learned the difference of a correct fitted boot and in hindsight should have ordered the sizing kit

Six months after the start of our Easyboot, journey I am a happy customer with a happy horse with healthy feet. Many said it would take longer. I almost gave up.  At first they will ask you why you are doing it. Later they will ask how you did it. 

 

 

And Then I Tried EasyShoes

Submitted by Jo Harder, EasyCare Customer

Thoroughbreds are well known for their less-than-stellar hooves, and a great solution for endurance riding has been outfitting my two Off-the-Track Thoroughbreds with EasyShoes, including a 22-year-old mare that still loves to do limited distance rides.

I’m a rider that’s just out to have fun at endurance rides. I’ve come in first, last, and everything in between at endurance rides, and my goal is always to complete a ride with a happy, healthy horse. I live and train in an area about 200 miles south of where most Florida endurance rides are held, and my local terrain is clay and sand, with very few rocks, so my horses can train barefoot. 

After one of my mares sustained a painful stone bruise several years ago at a ride that had significant areas of rocks, I vowed to provide protection for my horses’ feet. As I searched for the right solution, a key criteria was no metal, i.e., no nails and no steel/aluminum. After watching numerous videos about Glue-Ons, I tried them. 

At first, there were some failures, largely because I didn’t follow the directions. Initially, I didn’t understand the importance of thoroughly drying the hooves, especially in a humid climate, and avoiding all sources of oils (yes, that includes fly spray). But, I learned from my mistakes and made positive strides. 

For me, Glue-Ons were good but not the best solution. I struggled with getting some glue under the hoof, the moisture that built up in the hoof after a few days due to the humid climate, and then getting them off.

And then I tried EasyShoes... 

...And then I loved EasyShoes.

With the exception of one experiment wherein I didn’t put the toe bead of Adhere, I haven’t lost an EasyShoe at a ride (moral of the story: always, always do the toe bead!). My EasyShoes may not look pretty, but they are functional.

I put on my EasyShoes a bit different than the videos show. Rather than use the 180cc tube of Adhere and glue gun, I use one 50cc tube and the small glue gun from Vettec. It fits in my hand much better, requires much less hand effort, and is more precise. 

Plastic knives are for more than just camping!

In addition, I fit the EasyShoe on the hoof with popsicle sticks or plastic knives and then glue them in place. I pull out the lip of the EasyShoe just a little and insert the Adhere tip and squeeze. It drips down plenty and never goes under the sole. No hoof to hold up, no twisting. My horses seem to love getting their EasyShoes glued on because they stand perfectly still. I’m by no means a pro, but I can glue on a front set of EasyShoes in about 30 minutes total.

One of my horses is a high/low, and sometimes I feel it best to insert a very short wedge in her left EasyShoe to keep her balanced. No problem!  A Castle wedge cut to shape the EasyShoe, a little SuperGlue, and the same gluing process works perfectly.

A wedge in an EasyShoe?  Yes!

I have been trimming my own horses’ hooves for about six years now, and my horses go no more than three to four weeks between trims. Trimming with the Electric Hoof Knife makes the trim much easier, as well as scuffing up the hoof wall in preparation for the glue. It also makes it easy to pretty up your glue job as much or little as desired.

I’m not in a hurry to take off EasyShoes after the ride because the hoof has plenty of exposure and stays healthy.  When I am ready to take them off, that’s much easier too.  I purchased a Tekton upholstery tack lifter, and removal takes all of five minutes with a rubber mallet.  

Easily removing EasyShoes with an upholstery tack lifter.

My horses are in much better shape after completing a ride with EasyShoes.  No more stone bruises, and more confident trot outs at rides.  Because EasyShoes are so easy to put on and take off, my back feels great when starting a ride, so I am able to ride looser and my horse subsequently feels better.  Win/win for all!

 

Our Life Saving Easyboots

Submitted by Pia Kahila, EasyCare Customer

In 2008 I bought a 14 year old finnhorse, Helu-tähti. We pulled her shoes after she came to our place and started doing a barefoot trim.  As it was already Autumn, we ordered two pairs of Easyboot Epics and the studs to go with them. We even rode on the solid frozen lake in the Winter. 

Sadly, in January 2010 she was diagnosed with navicular disease. I was told that the lameness would be constant and the horse couldn't be ridden anymore. I decided not to give up after doing some research. I found out that some people had used foam pads with a hole for the frog successfully. Then I found that EasyCare had comfort pads that could do just that. The comfort pads arrived, and you could notice an instant relief when there wasn't any pressure on the frog.

As the navicular had also caused bowed tendons in both front feet, with the help of the Bowed Tendon Book, by Tom Ivers, and our comfort pads in our Epics, we started our rehabilitation by walking in hand every day. Each day we walked a little longer than the day before. When the summer came we were doing four km walks and it was time to speed up to a trot, so we got a carriage and started driving. For the summer we also got a pair of the old style Easyboot Grips so we didn't need to remove the studs from our Epics. In the Autumn we slowly started doing some riding work and in January we could have started doing cantering in the rehabilitation program, but we thought it best to wait until the Spring when the ground would be safer to canter.  So, we just did slow hacks in our boots and enjoyed the Winter. All the while we had the comfort pads to keep the pressure off the frog.  

Finally in the Spring we started cantering and galloping and in the Autumn we did even a couple of small jumps and she stayed perfectly sound.  

Sadly in the next February she died of colic. But even if we didn't have a very long journey together, our greatest success was getting her sound again after navicular, and that wouldn't have been possible without Easyboots and comfort pads. Thank you, EasyCare for giving us more time together.

 

 

Hoof Boot Story Winners

In November, EasyCare launched a hoof boot story contest for our customers.  We wanted to hear from you about your Easyboot successes and you delivered!  We received more than a dozen submissions, from people all over the world, sharing stories of how Easyboots helped them and their equine partners.  It makes us happy and proud to know, straight from the horse's mouth, that our boots are making a difference in the lives of horses and their owners. Thank you for sharing your stories.

Selecting the winner(s) was no small feat for our staff, as all of the stories are just wonderful, but we have chosen our winner(s).  Our first place slot was a tie, so we have decided to add an Honorable Mention for First Place rather than dropping our Third Place Winner.  

Winners are as follows:

Again, EasyCare would like to thank all of you for your submissions.  They are really all winning stories in our eyes. 

We will be posting all of the stories on our blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to read them all.

It's Never Too Late To Go Barefoot

First Place Story Winner

Submitted by Shannon Bossung, EasyCare Customer

Manni, my dressage horse has overcome many obstacles. He came into my life 12 years ago, after he had been rescued from mental and physical abuse.  He was 11 years old at the time.

I had been told by vets and farriers that he would always need shoes.  Over the next ten years, he made a good recovery mentally, (he will always have a few issues) but his feet were another story.  I tried different varieties of shoes, heart bar shoes, shims, but his hooves were never "good".  I had shown him through Grand Prix dressage, but this had taken its toll on him.  By the time he was 21, shoes were no longer able to keep him sound. My vet and farrier had no further suggestions as to what I could do; they never felt barefoot would be an option for him, but Manni had come so far, and he was telling me that he was not ready to retire.  I felt he deserved every chance I could give him. 

I learned about the different EasyCare hoof boot varieties at a barefoot trimming clinic and decided it was worth a try to transition Manni to barefoot in stages. I began by pulling Manni's shoes and using the EasyShoe Performance N/G for eight weeks. After that, for six months I used the Easyboot Glove with pad inserts while he was turned out and for short rides, and stalled him barefoot.  Now, about a year and a half later, he is barefoot and sound!  I use the Easyboot Glove for trail riding on rocky soils, he is barefoot for arena schooling, field turnout and stall.  I use the EasyCare Glue-Ons on the front hooves only, for the occasional competition.  Today, his hooves are beautiful and still improving. This would not have been possible without the variety of EasyCare boots and shoes used to transition him in stages.  

We recently celebrated another success story with Manni.  This past summer he took a student of mine, a young dressage rider (Sammi Burke) to the CBLM Championships. He also helped Sammi earn her USDF bronze medal and got her halfway to her USDF silver medal (Silver Medal scores in both Fourth Level and FEI Prix St Georges)!  Mannie turned 23 years old this year. He is sound and happy, and currently enjoys scenic trail rides along the Potomac river. He is slowly retiring but still enjoys tormenting the occasional student. He is a special horse. He has taught many students about perseverance; he's not flashy but he tries hard, and he expects the same of them. He has his quirks, and teaches his students to have a sense of humor.  He will spook at himself spooking!  He doesn't tolerate bad riding from an experienced rider, but is infinitely patient with a green rider. Myself, my students, and many friends that know Manni is "family". We are all so pleased that Easyboots helped Manni not only recover but thrive, when others told us he was "done". We hope that you can share his story and possibly help other horses get another chance to be happy and sound, no matter what their age. 

Easyboots: Always There When You Need Them

Second Place Story Winner

Submitted by Jennifer Dey, EasyCare Customer

It was only just about four years ago that I had finally taken the leap into removing my older geldings shoes once and for all. He had shoes of various type since racing as a three year old. He was in aluminium, bar, plastic, steel, and wedges. You name it, he's probably tried it. His feet just never seemed to like what was on them. Despite diligent hoof care every four weeks like clockwork and an array of hoof supplements, they always had some sort of crack or problem. Now most would think, well he's a thoroughbred they all have bad feet, but I don't accept things like that. I always try to find a way to fix things and so I did.

We had started our journey to barefoot despite many negative comments and opinions that had gone along with it. I'm not one to care about others and their criticisms. Once I make up my mind, I hit it full throttle with everything I have. This was no different. I purchased his first pair of hoof boots, the Boa model,and they worked great. We trail rode in them since footing on trails is not always obvious. After awhile his feet began making improvements and the shape changed, no longer fitting the Boa boots.

We then went with the Easyboot Trail model. This was a great boot and was very simple to apply since his patience in holding his feet up was not always accommodating. This boot model we kept for many years and it provided support when he had a minor tendon irritation. He wore them 24/7 for at least a week with regular checks daily to be sure of no problems. We never had any issues with them. As time passed his hooves grew stronger and he no longer required boots for riding. He was able to trail ride comfortably with what he was born with. The farrier that pulled his shoes told me it was the best decision I had made for him. He was sounder than he had ever been with all those fancy shoes and it was on his own feet. He tripped less and became more sure footed with the steps he took.

More recently, back in late winter, he had to be trailered to the hospital a few times. He doesn't come off the trailer very well and he ended up flying backwards so fast he fell and bruised his heel badly. After everything he had been going through with his illness he now had to walk around in pain. I immediately began frantically searching for something that would help cushion his movement on the hard winter grounds.

I came across the Easyboot Cloud. It looked like just what he could use. I quickly placed my order and had them shipped overnight. As soon as they arrived I rushed to the barn and tried them on. A perfect fit. He immediately began walking better. The relief that swept over me was immeasurable. Though not 100% sound even with the boots he was moving much more comfortably than before. He wore the boots outside 24/7 and they held up beautifully. Not a single issue with twisting or falling off, nothing, just comfort. It took over a month for the bruise to heal. Between his vets recommendations and any medications he needed for his bruise, along with the Easyboot Clouds, he was getting what he needed.

Now eight months later he is back to health and full soundness with his own bare toes providing him with just what he needs. EasyCare has been such a big part of being there just when we needed it. From the Boa boot to the Trail boot to the Cloud we have used and love them all. Thank you for your dedication to helping all horses make that leap and everywhere in between. My gelding is now retired at 27 and enjoying his life living outdoors, sound and barefoot the way it should be. 

It's Been an Amazing 10 Years

CHANGE is a big word. Change can be exciting and change can be unsettling. Whether we like it or not we all know change is inevitable. Perhaps a necessary evil. It seems most of us have a love-hate relationship with change; we hate it yet crave it at the same time. EasyCare and its owner Garrett Ford have never been afraid of change. As a team we pursue it and as a company we thrive on it. As the leaders in hoof boot technology, the dust never settles.

As my career at EasyCare draws to a close, I can't help but reflect on the past 10 years and all that has changed. When I joined the EasyCare team in 2006, there wasn't a hoof care and veterinarian dealer representative. It didn’t exist. No one person truly specialized in handling this diverse group’s needs. Garrett believed I could fill that void and I leapt at the chance to become that person. Back then it was all about the Epic, Bare, Boa and Old Mac's. The Epic and Bare were the performance boots of choice.

The early years! At home in the Tucson office. 

This was also the year EasyCare hosted a five day clinic in Tucson, AZ.  It was my big debut. People not only came from across the US but from around the world. Pete Ramey and Dr. Bowker presented lectures and EasyCare had a booting day. It was a sell out at over 150 people and despite the SNOW, I think everyone had a great experience. Many of those attending I have not seen since but many of the relationships I built during that time remain strong to this day.

2007 saw the launch of our unprecedented Fill Your Truck program. The brainchild of Pete Ramey and Garrett Ford. This generous program continues to be tremendously popular and an incredible benefit to hoof care professionals.

Big changes came in 2009 with the launch of the Easyboot Glove and Glue-On. These products speak for themselves and forever changed the way the world looked at barefoot horses and booting. Proving grounds from the likes of Tevis, to the rigors of the highest caliber dressage and virtually everything in between. These products proved they could help a horse perform at the highest of levels or help a horse out of it’s lowest of lows. Today these boots along with many of our other products are utilized by some of the best and brightest hoof care professionals, veterinarians and trainers in the word.

Helping out at Tevis!

2014 brought on one of the most controversial changes in EasyCare history. The launch of the EasyShoe. Although hotly contested by some, EasyCare's owner Garrett Ford's persistence and hard work produced a product that changed the way many viewed shoes and how they could actually allow full hoof function. The EasyShoe has won over the critics and from my side of the fence it is the one product that delivers the most dynamic feedback. Farriers, trimmers, veterinarians and most importantly horses love EasyShoes.

This same year we decided to roll the dice and attend the International Hoof Care Summit. This is a tough crowd of professionals and we joked that Kevlar helmets and vests may be in order. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Our timing couldn’t have been better to bring our “change” to the Summit. The response was overwhelming. In fact at times it looked as if we stole the show!

Garrett demos the application process at the International Hoof Care Summit. 

Change came swift and hard in 2016 as new boots were introduced and some received new looks and improved features. None of this compared to the changes and challenges we faced as a company in losing one of our own. Kevin Myers you are missed and continue to live in our hearts.

The gang and I at Strawberry Fields. Two days of 50s. It was rough on the body but I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Yes, as I reflect on my time at EasyCare it has been full of change. Keeping a barefoot horse is no longer an oddity. You rarely hear a comment like “Wow, what’s on your horses feet?” They know. It is not uncommon for me to speak to just as many vets and farriers in a day as barefoot trimmers. Big change. The past decade has has brought enormous changes and with it an enormous acceptance of alternative hoof care. I am proud to have played a small role in helping professionals help horses.

Pacific Hoof Care Practitioner's annual conference. Mario Gargiulo and I send a high five to Garrett. 

 I was very honored and excited to be included in several of EasyCare's catalog shoots.

There is nothing like seeing the beauty of Durango horseback. I definitely had a permagrin going! 

This was amazing! I had never ridden in the snow before that day. 

As I say goodbye and my time at EasyCare comes to a close, I encourage you in EasyCare fashion to be fearless and embrace change. Follow that small voice in your heart and live like somebody left the gate open. Thank you all for an amazing 10 years. It’s been an honor and a privilege to know and and work with each of you.

So long my friends.

"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

Quoted from none other than Mr. Winnie the Poo.