How Barefoot and Booting is Being Used in the Dressage Arena

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care

When Shannon Peters contacted me over 6 years ago about one of her Warmbloods in her dressage stables, she knew that a barefoot or booted approach could help. She introduced me to her 3-year-old Dutch Warmblood,with the amazing name of Disco Inferno. Disco had just been imported from Europe and Shannon was concerned that he was already displaying a toe first landing. After discussing his situation and watching him trot back and forth on hard ground, we noted that overall, he wasn’t using his heel properly.

We agreed to pull his shoes and try our best to get a better landing with Comfort Pads and Easyboot Glove boots. That first day we really only got a flatter landing, but our approach is always to strive for positive change and any improvement is improvement. As each step he took became more comfortable he began to load his foot correctly. It was a positive change for him and over time he developed a beautiful and confident stride.

Left photo taken immediately after shoe removal. Right photo demonstrates improvements after only 4 months.

For the first few years Shannon showed Disco barefoot while continuing to train him either barefoot or in Easyboot Gloves. For dressage fans, you may remember a photo of Disco in the February 2013 article in Dressage Today about Shannon taking her horses barefoot. She takes her horses on the trails weekly to keep their minds and bodies fresh and uses Gloves for protection from the hard ground of Del Mar, California. In the last year Shannon felt that Disco was ready to begin showing in the Concours de Dressage International (CDI), an international dressage event recognized by the world governing body of equestrian sports, the Federation Equestrian International (FEI). CDI events require that you present your horse in a veterinary soundness check, aka “the jog.”  The horse is trotted on hard ground on straight lines and hoof boots are not permitted.  They are also not permitted for any dressage competition.   

Disco was shown a couple of times in modified Easyboot Glue-Ons but, he seemed to really find his groove in the Easyboot Love Child. Disco has gorgeous frogs and his feet are a nice overall shape, but he has never grown much sole. Shannon and I were so excited to see the positive changes he made with a couple of cycles in the flexible Love Child showing that beautiful confidence in his landings and improved sole depth! 

In April, Shannon showed him in his first Intermediare I CDI at the prestigious Del Mar National Horse Show. They did beautifully, scoring in the upper 60’s.  Disco even showed off his Grand Prix skills, which unfortunately don’t earn any extra points. Shannon is looking forward to making their official Grand Prix debut this fall.

We are so excited to be a little part of the team for this dancing duo! 

Tips on Applying a Power Strap to the Easyboot Glove

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Jordan Junkermann

Our Easyboot Gloves are a form fitting, versatile boot that allow high performance riders to perform at the level they want without adding weight or bulkiness to the barefoot hoof. The Glove has the capacity to be used for long distances and frequent riding, which means they also do well with weekend riders, parades, and with driving horses.

To truly benefit horse and rider, this boot requires a snug fit, and while some hooves glide into the boot like Cinderella into her glass slippers, others have a shape that makes for a challenging fit. For a more rounded hoof shape, you’ll find that the Glove comes in larger widths.This may give you the perfect fit. But, if the hoof is narrow for its length, there’s a solution to snug up the fit - the Easyboot Power Strap. It cinches the boot like a belt.

Here are some tips on applying the Power Strap

The two best methods for inserting holes where the Strap will connect to the boot are a leather punch or a wood burning tool. Keep in mind that the holes need to big enough to accommodate a T-nut, screw and washer.  

1. Leather Hole Punch

One option is to use a leather hole punch and punch on the indicated areas of the front of the boot and power strap. In the method below, we used a different kind of punch that works best when it’s sharp. The tools you will need for this method include: a wooden block, a nail to start the puncture, a punch, and a hammer. First, make a small hole on the boot with the nail and hammer, using the wooden block as a brace on the inside to give you something solid to steady the punch. Next, hammer a hole on the other size of the boot with the punch and hammer, again using the wooden block as a brace. 

Using a nail can start a hole in the desired area

 

Using this type of punch requires a hammer.

2. Wood Burning Tool

Another method suggested by one of our Product Specialists is to use a wood burning tool. It can be purchased for around $16, and it’s quick, requires less strength and creates a perfect hole for the hardware to sit in.

Start by heating up the wood burning tool. It’s a good idea to have a rag handy, because you’ll want to periodically clean the melted rubber off of the tip of the tool to reduce excess smoke.

 

We tried a couple different tips but found a wide one to be useful. Make sure to screw it in before you heat up the tool. 

 

Start with the base of the boot. Make your holes where indicated on the front of the boot. Don't be afraid to make it a little bit bigger than the tip.

 

Clean up any excess rubber at the back end or any that builds up in the front. This excess could get in the way of threading the screw onto the T-nut.

 

Create the same holes on the Power Strap using the markings on the back of the Strap as guides.

 

Make sure to check that your screw will fit into the holes you have made.


 

 

Trim the ends of the Power Strap by cutting the line above the correct number on the Power Strap that matches the size boot you have.

 

Once the T-nut is seated in the back of the boot, it only takes a minute to line up the Power Strap hole and tighten it down with the screw and washer. 

 

To make it easier to line up the second hole, use a pair of locking pliers as a clamp to hold the boot, Power Strap and hardware in place.

 

Placing the second side screw is easy with the locking pliers.

 

The Power Strap in place!

 

Attaching the Power Strap to the Glove can be simple and should provide the snug fit needed to enjoy this popular boot.

The Challenges of Spring Grass: Laminitis and Founder

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Dawn Willoughby

Original Post June 2, 2011

In most cases, owners can prevent the ravages of laminitis (inflammation of the laminae between hoof wall and coffin bone) and founder (pulling away of wall from coffin bone due to a broken laminae). During my six years as a professional trimmer, I tried to educate owners about preventing this painful situation. Here is a review of what I shared with them every spring.

I live in Delaware where we have a spring that challenges most horses. Beginning in late March, early April, our sugary spring grass starts to grow. Our worst days are cool and sunny. This combination has the effect of creating a surge of sugar in the grass. When the sun goes down, the spring night temperatures are cool, keeping the sugar in the grass, not allowing it to return to the roots. That's a double whammy for the natural herd that is out 24/7. It isn't until July that we reliably dry out and warm up every day and night. When this happens the sugar returns to the roots. I learned about forage growth and pasture management from studying materials and attending clinics by Katy Watts, www.safergrass.org, an agricultural expert and owner of founder-prone horses. She offers wonderful lectures on her site as well.
 

Sunny & Doc

Sunny and Doc, “the bay thoroughbred twins” at Tory Hill Farm in Glen Mills, Pa. Up to their eyeballs in spring grass, these former athletics are not markedly affected.

When I had a trimming practice, I encouraged owners to mark April 1st to July 1st on their calendars and prepare for spring grass for their easy keepers.
  1. First and foremost, adjust the diet. Lower dietary sugar anyway you can. You will need to be especially aggressive if you have a horse prone to laminitis and founder, usually known as an “easy keeper”. Examples: draft horses, native horses and ponies and donkeys. Eliminate grain, molasses, most treats and, if necessary, add a muzzle or put the horse in a dirt pasture or on a dirt path system such as Paddock Paradise. Hay should have 10% or less sugar. Correctly soaking hay can reduce sugar by 30%; leave the sugar water on the bottom of the tub. Most horses do very well on forage diets.
  2. Maintain or increase exercise. I have a friend who ponys her mini off her warmblood mare! This year she is teaching the mini to drive.
  3. A distant third, the trim. Apply a steeper bevel to outer and inner wall in order to avoid any wall pressure on the laminae of a normally well trimmed horse. In other words, apply the “rehab” trim (more info below).
  4. Involve the veterinarian as needed.
In the spring, the grass is nourishing seeds in order to survive. Even if you have an over-grazed area, you can assume it's high in sugar if there is grass. Stressed grass is high in sugar. I use Equi Analytical Laboratories to test hay and pasture. The test costs $26. Then I know the exact sugar content as well as the amount and proportion of minerals in my horse's diet. I have learned to supplement my horse's meals by balancing the minerals in his diet. Dr. Eleanor Kellon, www.drkellon.com, will help you create a plan for your horse or you can take her basic course on-line and learn to balance the diet yourself. Dr. Kellon is an expert in this area, especially working with foundered horses and will help owners with medicinal supplements, as well. She is well educated in homeopathy and herbal treatments.

As for the trim, I put a steeper angle (55 degrees) on the walls and switch from a “maintenance” trim to a “rehabilitation” trim in April, on all horses, founder-prone or not. That means I apply the mustang roll to the outer and inner wall, right to the laminae. I return to the maintenance trim in July when the sugar reliably declines, just beveling the outer wall. By relieving any pressure on the laminae (aka white line) via the wall, I am able to minimize wall flare due to laminitis. I have noticed that in May, my OTTB, Sunny. becomes a bit ouchy on the gravel driveway so clearly he has lamintis. There are other telltale symptoms. He may lose a little bit of concavity, about a half inch from the laminae. If he experiences any wall flare, it is limited to about an inch from the ground. In our 6 years together, he has never gone lame. Another telltale sign is one or more horizontal rings on the outer wall, laminitic rings where the laminae detached, and reattached. When I ride out in rocky areas, I simply boot the front. Padded Epics, Gloves and Generation 2 Old Mac all do a nice job.

Example 1
Tessa is an 8 year old, warmblood mare. She has been barefoot her entire life and has had what I consider a good trim for the past 4 years. Her owner trims her every week or two. She is turned out with a babysitter, Frisco the mini, on 3 acres that wrap around the house. Their diet is mostly low sugar hay. The pair moves a lot, checking on their people. This year Tessa's owner reduced her grain from a couple quarts to a handful. This is the first spring Tessa has not needed boots for cross country rides. I have seen her walk over rocky paths with no problem, just as she does the rest of the year. Tessa maintained full concavity on the bottom of her feet. Her weight has gone down to a healthier level too: you can feel but not see her ribs. Before hand she looked like a “typical” chunky warmblood. She is ridden daily.
 
Tessa & Frisco

Tessa and Frisco, both easy keepers, look great this spring. More importantly, they feel great.

Example 2
Martha learned to trim her two Percheron crosses a few years ago. This is the first spring at her own farm and she can finally control their environment. The horses are on a pasture with no grass. They eat nothing with grain or molasses and have low sugar hay strewn about the pasture. They are ridden most days. Here is the note I received from Martha this past April, 2011:

In that we are trying to save the pasture and have them on only a third of it (with no grass, just hay), we are also doing the boys a huge favor...they have absolutely NO laminitic rings, NO sore feet, NO hardish neck on Squire, etc. wow, all those times you said to keep them OFF the grass in spring and fall and other high sugar times, this really proves that point. Tell all those sorts of non believers who think their laminitic prone horses who are eating little bits of "stressed" grass, aren't getting enough to matter, that they are DEAD wrong and can get in touch with me it they want proof!!!  Bravo Dawn!!!
 
Shawn & Squire

Percheron Crosses, Shawn and Squire, have happy, working feet this spring.

Example 3
Early in my career, I worked on a chronically foundered Friesan who lived on a pasture with short, sad-looking vegetation (I hesitate to call it grass), growing in sandy soil. I couldn't believe it could make any horse sick but I was wrong. The only solution for a sensitive horse like that is to get him off the grass and feed the correct amount, by weight, of low sugar hay (Dr. Kellon can help you with the amount of hay). Although his owner didn't agree, I still believe the horse had been chronically foundered for most of his life. This explained his reluctance to work under saddle at the trot or canter. When I saw him, it was the first time he had gone lame. But I am sure he didn't “suddenly” get sore; he simply couldn't hide it anymore. His body had the telltale fat pad pattern of a lamintic horse: convex, filled in area above the eyes, cresty neck and fat pads on his shoulders and on either side of the tail.
 
Fat pad distribution After

Common fat pad distribution on founder-prone horse, a pure Friesan, and several months later after his diet had been corrected.

It's easy to tell on most horses if the wall is well connected to the coffin bone. Just put your fingers on the hairline of the coronary band and run them down the wall. Begin on one side and work your way around the entire foot. If you feel a flare, the wall isn't connected. This has been the case with almost every horse I have worked on. By correcting the diet, exercise and trim, I routinely grew out well connected feet. The only exception is a horse who has been chronically foundered and the laminae became scarred. There is nothing for the wall to attach to. Typically the wall is well connected for about half the foot and then flares out, even after a year of good care. Some horses do flare right out of the hairline but as you apply the correct trim, you will see the well connected foot at the top of the hoof capsule.
 
Bugsy After

Right off the track, Bugsy, shows off his original shod foot and four months later, half of the great foot he grew in 4 months. His is an example of flaring right out of the hairline, all around. He remained sound throughout. Long toes and underrun heels may be common on racehorses but don't confuse that with the excellent feet we can grow on thoroughbreds!

On sensitive, easy-keepers, owners must go into over drive in the spring and any time the weather is sunny in the day and cool at night, with adequate rain to grow grass. For some horses, I suspect Cushings Disease if they present with founder in the fall. The vet can test for this disease; long body hair is a late stage symptom.

Charlie, a Holsteiner gelding, came to the farm where I boarded in 2010. He had not been at the farm long enough to have well trimmed feet and the owner didn't have any “spring grass” experience with him. She was told he “rotated” in the previous spring. In May 2010, he developed massive abscesses along the hairline and in late May the wall pulled away from the coffin bone, founder. In a typical founder stance, Charlie “sat back” on his haunches to relieve pressure on his front feet where the coffin bone was threatening to push through the sole. When we could pick up a foot, we put him in padded Old Mac's G2. I showed the owner how to “peel” away part of the outer wall on the ground with nippers. We took the toe back to where it should be, giving him some relief. It took 12 months for his owner-trimmer to grow out a good foot.
 
Charlie

Charlie has almost grown out one of the large abscess, the horizontal line near the bottom of the foot from last years bout with founder.

Going into the spring of 2011, the owner decided to see how Charlie tolerated the grass, now with good feet. He did not (it really is about the diet). Abscesses appeared in April. He was put on a sacrifice lot with a friend, full time, with access to two stalls. In mid May, after the abscesses popped, (no one touched him with a knife of course), the owner experiment with muzzled turnout because Charlie moves so much more when he is with the herd of eight retired racehorses. She finally settled on a routine of muzzled turnout by day and sacrifice lot and two open stalls with a friend at night.

Don't tell me you can't keep a muzzle on your horse! Figure it out. Add a leather halter over the muzzle. Vet tape the two together. Add a brow band to the halter. Braid the crown piece into the mane at the pole. Add halter fuzzies everywhere to avoid rubs. I recommend removing the muzzle twice a day to check for rubs. If the horse has “an accomplice”, put that horse in a muzzle too; if he doesn't need it, just make the hole bigger so he can eat grass but not pull off the muzzle.

There is a misconception that once the horse has “rotated”, he can't go sound. This is untrue. In the vastly over-simplified version, the wall disconnects from the coffin bone when the laminae breaks due to a sugar overdose. If anything “rotates”, it's the wall away from the horse. The coffin bone is right where it should be, under the horse. According to Dr. Tomas Teskey, many horses feel better within days of a dietary correction. On most horses you can grow out a good foot in 7-12 months depending on how bad the situation is. Dead lame horses may recover more slowly. Please check Pete Ramey's site, www.hoofrehab.com, for many useful articles written by this well known “founder junkie”. His DVD series, Under the Horse, is excellent. Within that series are a couple of DVDs focusing on laminitis and founder. Shoes and stalling are never a good idea in my view.

The ultimate test? I was able to keep two miniature donkeys healthy in a grassy, 35 acre Pennsylvania pasture by putting Best Friend muzzles on them in mid-March and leaving them on until the first freeze, in December. They never even developed fat pads on their necks, shoulders and rumps. I did take off their muzzles for a half hour at breakfast and dinner to check for rubs. They shared a half cup of “safe” food. They were not fed apples or carrots because the glycemic index, although low for humans, is too high for super easy-keepers like donkeys. This advice came from Dr. Eleanor Kellon, my favorite equine nutritionist.

Clearly it is possible for owners to manage diet and lifestyle for their founder prone horses. I hope this introductory article is just the beginning of your research into learning all you can about preventing laminitis and founder for your best friend.

Good Luck and Happy Trails!

Dawn

My Favorite Resources
  • Equi Analytical Laboratories http://www.equi-analytical.com. The sister laboratory, Dairy One, has additional educational information.
  • Dr. Eleanor Kellon's www.drkellon.com offers reasonably priced consults and great on-line courses. The first course to take is “National Research Foundation (NRC) Plus”. The NRC 2007 recommendations books is available on-line.
  • Pete Ramey's www.hoofrehab.com has articles, DVD's and current research.
  • Katy Watt's http://www.safergrass.org/ offers consults, articles and excellent Power Point lectures on CDs and clinic schedule.

Dawn Willoughby lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Drew Knox, Annie the Rottweiler and Sunny, OTTB. During her professional trimming career (2004-2010) she focused on teaching owners to trim their horses. She will work with owners online who have no access to trimmers and will conduct owner-focused trimming clinics internationally. She now focuses on equine bodywork along with in-hand and mounted training as physical therapy for the horse. Dawn maintains an educational site, http://4sweetfeet.com/, where you can find free trimming videos and articles on all aspects of natural horse care. The videos and more are also on http://youtube.com/4sweetfeet.

Under Pressure - Discovering A Hoof Abscess (Part One)

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Kelsey Lobato.

An abscess is a bacterial infection of the connective tissues between the hoof wall and the sole of the hoof. Abscesses can be triggered from a number of causes, such as a bruised sole, poor trim job from your farrier, or even a change in weather, such as going from extreme heat to damp conditions. Once the abscess has established itself in the hoof, the horse begins to show signs of mild to severe lameness. Each horse can react differently when dealing with the abscess and each abscess case can be different.

Since it is impossible for a horse to move without bearing weight on each leg, the constant pressure on an infected hoof causes mild to harsh pain and can advance the infection. As the horse bears weight on the exposed area, the bacteria travels up into the hoof cavity. The immune system sets off an inflammatory reaction in the area, causing a strong digital pulse and hot spot. White blood cells begin to surround and kill the bacteria in the surrounding tissue. These white blood cells produce the discharge that generally accompanies abscesses.

This exact scenario has been plaguing my horse, Summer Flame, for the last 6 months. It never fails, you think you have conquered the abscess and another one blows a week or two later. In my case, in different hooves. I continued to try and figure out why my surefooted barefoot horse was dealing with re-occurring abscesses this year. Was it the weather? Does she have mild laminitis? Is she constantly bruising on her sole? Is it her feed?

To the inexperienced eye, abscesses can look like shoulder injuries, hock injuries, hip or back injuries. Horses can limp lightly or be dead lame. They can pop suddenly then go away without notice or they can gradually increase in pressure creating a panicky situation.

I have experienced all of the above. The most recent occurrence happened gradually, creating a swollen front leg, a strong digital pulse, drainage in the heel bulb and a solar surface abscess, which I found after she let me clean her hoof out. My first reaction was "oh she got kicked" because she had never had leg swelling while fighting an abscess and then I saw the drainage from her heal bulb. Face palm to the forehead "Great another abscess!" (Well, I am getting good at these). I was worried about the swelling though, as a colleague stated it might be cellulitis, which is scary! I called the vet explained to him the symptoms and more. He did not think it was cellulitis; gave me antibiotics and Bute to hopefully take care of the re-occurring abscesses in her system.

Just as a side note, the only reason my vet gave me antibiotics was because she was actively draining from the abscess and the previous abscesses have drained and started healing. I recommend to only give your horse antibiotics and Bute if the abscess has blown. Giving antibiotics or painkillers to a horse that has not had release from an abscess will slow down the process, make the issue more painful and prolong the issue.

Below is a picture of what she looked like when I first found the abscess. As you review the picture, you can see the forearm and the knee are both swollen, making it hard for her to bend her leg and walk.

These next two pictures show the solar surface abscess and then the heel bulb abscess. You can see where the abscess started in the white line of the bars and tracked up to the heel bulb where the pressure was released.

This is the same scenario as the previous abscess she had in her right hind leg. The only difference is that there is major swelling and the previous solar surface abscess was small and healed pretty quickly after the farrier trimmed the dead sole away. I asked my farrier if he was concerned that she was having so many abscesses. He did not have an answer for me nor did he return any of my phone calls. He continually tells my friend, who I board with, that the horses all have great feet and not to worry.

After discussions with my vet and feedback from my farrier, I started doing more research on abscesses and why they might be re-occurring in Summer. Every page I turned and every article I read came up with the same answers. The answers being: diet, mild cases of laminitis, environment, sole bruising and poor trimming. Poor trimming is what got my attention. I have been noticing that my farrier leaves on quite a bit more sole and frog than usual. I thought nothing of it as she has had the same farrier for over 5 years and has never had previous hoof issues. Well, when your horse is constantly receiving incorrect trims over and over again, the hoof wall and bars can become overgrown and weight bearing, creating them to fold over and capture bacteria on the whiteline, creating a perfect environment for abscesses. Especially, if the horse is unable to wear the extra sole and frog down in its environment.

This was an "ah-ha!" moment for me and had my vet come out to verify. He and I came to the conclusion that my farrier has continually not been trimming her correctly and now it was showing. As well as other factors including a dry winter and stone bruising from the new dirt that was added to the paddock this year that contained rocks.

In conclusion, I am thankful that the abscess cause has been found and my horse is on the mend. I found that knowing your horse’s feet and making sure your farrier is doing his job right is key. Generally speaking, correct and frequent trimming, not allowing the bars to be weight bearing will keep your horse from abscessing. It’s just that simple!

In my next blog, I will touch on the topic of what treatments work for me along with what EasyCare products I use to help with the healing process.

Hoof Boots And Horse Shoes That Promote Hoof Mechanism

EasyCare has built our hoof protection line around the theory of hoof mechanism. Products that encourage mechanism while protecting the equine hoof.

Hoof mechanism definition from Wikipedia:

"The horse hoof is not at all a rigid structure. It is elastic and flexible. Just squeezing the heels by hand will demonstrate that. When loaded, the hoof physiologically changes its shape. In part, this is a result of solar concavity, which has a variable depth, in the region of 1–1.5 cm. In part, it is a result of the arched shape of the lateral lower profile of the walls and sole, so that when an unloaded hoof touches a firm ground surface, there is only contact at toe and heels (active contact). A loaded hoof has a much greater area of ground contact (passive contact), covering the lower wall edge, most of the sole, bars and frog. Active contact areas can be seen as slightly protruding spots in the walls and in the callused sole.

The shape changes in a loaded hoof are complex. The plantar arch flattens, the solar concavity decreases in depth and heels spread. The hoof diameter increases to a 'dilated' configuration and P3 drops marginally into the hoof capsule. There is some recent evidence that a depression takes place in this phase, with blood pooling ('diastolic phase') mainly into the wall corium. When unloaded, the hoof restores its 'contracted' configuration, the pressure rises and the blood is squeezed out ('systolic phase'). There is a secondary pumping action, with the flexion of the foot, as it is raised.

The hoof mechanism ensures an effective blood circulation into the hoof, and it aids general circulation, too."

EasyCare was the first in the industry to identify this market and manufacture products that both allow for and encourage hoof mechanism. The EasyCare hoof protection line continues to grow and covers most applications and disciplines.  

The EasyCare performance line features strap on and glue on protection built for speed. EasyCare products have won the 100 mile Tevis Cup the last 7 of 8 years.  

The EasyCare pleasure riding line is perfect for the trail and recreational rider. Lot's of choices to fit each horse and style of riding.

When you or your vet need a therapy boot we have you covered. Several options to get your partner comfortable and happy.

The EasyShoe line. The race track, endurance, trail, therapy, police and carriage horses. Horses wanting more of a traditional shoe that promotes hoof mechanism. Glue, nail or cast them in place. Regardless of discipline, EasyCare has your hoof protection covered while keeping hoof mechanism in mind.

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.

 

 

EasyShoe Performance NGs: Another Tool on the Belt

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Timothy Prindle of Barefoot Equine.

Atlas, a mustang came into my care about 7 years ago. His owner, Megan, moved to Los Angeles from Seattle and brought Atlas to an eventing barn. What makes Atlas an interesting case is that even with strong mustang hoof walls and soles, he grows ferociously straight forward with long toe/under run heels if not kept in check. So steady, consistent trimming has always been a vital part of his hoof care.

When I began with him, his heels were fairly contracted with a narrow frog that protruded significantly higher than his hoof wall, which I wasn’t thrilled about because I could not reduce heel height safely without risking sensitivity. An on again off again soundness issue was diagnosed as degenerative joint disease within the coffin joint. To reduce stress on that joint, the veterinarian recommended we use shoes in order to cut back toe and enhance breakover.

These were the days before I had given up steel, so I outfitted him with a set (which, of course, I had to grind the heck out of so as not to create excessive pressure on those protruding frog heights). He still struggled with some lameness even after the metal shoes were put on and we found that by keeping the toe back with 4-6 week shoeings was imperative to keeping him sound. Additionally, since his diagnosis, the vet would come out to give injections to his joint every 6 to 8 months. In time, however, I could tell the steel shoes were doing nothing to help a narrow frog and contracted heels. 

As a farrier out of Cornell Farrier School, it seemed natural to progress to the EasyShoe Performance NG for those horses needing a little help beyond barefoot—and to also have another tool in my belt aside from booting. Barefoot was my specialty, so EasyShoes made sense from a natural hoof care prospective and they were slowly beginning to replace steel in my work. Atlas was the last of my horses still in iron.

I mentioned to Megan that the EasyShoe Performance N/G shoes could be a perfect compliment to the veterinarian's prescription, which would allow for better expansion of his foot and provide the freedom for his heels to spread. So we pulled the metal shoes and started with EasyShoes. 

That was 3 years ago, and now Atlas is a much happier horse. His heels have spread astonishingly, more than I had anticipated, and he has a wide frog to match his thick, mustang hoof walls and sole. His injections last almost twice as long and he doesn’t miss a step on the jumping course with the EasyShoe’s tread. As his owner says, "Atlas lives for the cross country portion of the eventing discipline. And he’s now becoming proficient in stadium jumping as well—novice level (3’3’’  jumps)."

As for me, I put my last steel shoe on 3 years ago and now use the EasyShoe Performance N/G’s regularly in my craft. They have proven to be an excellent tool for rehabbing as well as providing support within specific equine disciplines that typically require steel shoes. 

Share Your Adventure March Winner: 2017 Division One Trail Rider and the Easyboot Epics.

Submitted by Easyboot Customer, Robin Morris.

My partner’s name is Beau. He is an eleven-year-old Quarter Horse Saddle Mule. I absolutely adore him and ride a lot which is probably an understatement. I have logged every mile since the day we became partners on June 16, 2014. To date we have logged just under 7,800 miles. 

As an active member of our local Back Country Horsemen, many of our rides are in the mountains in Montana and Wyoming wilderness areas. We often travel on sharp rocks to elevations exceeding 11,000’. The terrain is tough on steel shoes. I was wearing through a pair of shoes in under 6 weeks. 

Through trial-and-error with my farrier, we went from standard steel shoes, to toes and heels, to tapped tungsten rods, and to finally tungsten forged to his steel shoes at the toe and heels. The tungsten shoes are good for about 900 miles, which includes several resets. 

While we have figured out what shoes work best for the trails that Beau and I travel and the miles we put in, his hoof health is important. He is trimmed every 6 weeks year-round. Both my farrier and I strongly believe that an equine’s hooves need a break from steel shoes. Last winter, during his barefoot break, he got a rock stuck in the collateral groove surrounding the frog, mis-stepped and incurred a minor suspensory branch injury. Wearing a “000” shoe, you can imagine how small his frog and groove are. He was initially on stall rest and then restricted for two months. It was a long two months for both of us. Wanting to still give him a break this year, I was very nervous about going barefoot.

On several trips in the Wilderness, several of my riding partners lost a shoe. Having a boot as back-up allowed several of them to “keep riding” while others had to walk their horses out and opt out of following rides. So, this year, I set out to kill two birds with one stone. I researched boots until I was completely confused. Evidently mules are harder to fit as they typically have hooves that are longer than they are wide. Beau’s feet are no exception. After several failed attempts, I contacted Product Specialist, Regan, with EasyCare. I spoke to her about the Easyboot Epics based on several reviews by other mule owners. As soon as they arrived I put them on, took pictures, and I emailed them to Regan. Between her and another Product Specialist they confirmed that the fit was spot on. I was so excited!

Knowing that I should break them in on a short ride, I saddled up and rode three miles through deep crusty snow, slick mud and gravel. Beau was short strided for about a quarter of a mile and then fell into his normal stride. After the ride, I completely checked out his pasterns, there was nothing. No heat, no elevated pulse, no rubbing, all was normal. I was stoked! I already had a longer ride planned for the next day with a buddy and felt comfortable going with his new Easyboot Epics. It was amazing how much easier they were to put on the second time! I trailered 38 miles where I met up with my riding partner, Jody, and her Quarter Horse mare, Win-E. The trail chosen was a county road. In Montana, in the winter, you have to get creative about where you can ride. I only bought boots for his front hooves and after 5 miles or so he was getting a little ouchy on the back hooves, so we headed off-road, where I really got to try out the security of the boots on bentonite. 

Bentonite is a mud that is mined for its sealant properties. Since it provides a self-sealing, low permeability barrier, it is often used for holding ponds. When it rains, you avoid bentonite roads as it takes on a “snot-like” quality that is impossible to drive on, you will get stuck, and is tough to get off any surface if allowed to dry. I was absolutely tickled and impressed that after logging 21 ½ miles not only did the boots stay on, but Beau’s pasterns were absolutely normal upon removing the boots. However, it did take a lot of soaking, brushing and scrubbing to clean the boots. I am so thankful that Beau’s new boots solved two issues: they will carry him through his barefoot break and serve as spares for all of my miles with shoes.

What You Can Expect in the Next Hoof Boot from EasyCare and the EasyShoe Flex

It's easy to make a car when you have the opportunity to copy a car that has already been built. EasyCare was the first company to manufacture a hoof boot in 1970 and we have been going strong for 48 years now. Many of our designs have been used and studied by other hoof boot manufacturers to make their hoof boot solutions. Boots continue to evolve and competition gets you up in the morning.

So what is next in the EasyCare hoof boot line? It's difficult to find a performance hoof boot on the market that fits every hoof. We have been working hard on a new boot style that has the ability to adjust in length, heel height and accepts several different gaiter/securing options. The goal is to give horse owners more options under one chassis. We have a great concept in the works that is testing very well.  

1.  Glue-on option with different heel cushion densities.

2.  A pivoting gaiter option similar to the Easyboot Glove but with a pivoting gaiter. Gaiter can also be adjusted for different length feet.  

3.  We have a heel lock version that adjusts in heel length and heel height. Elongate for a longer foot, shorten for rounder hoof. 

4.  We have a version that locks down the heel but is adjustable in heel length and height.

5.  All versions will be interchangeable. What works on one horse may not work on another. This concept provides many options and many adjustments in each version.    

We currently have 4 sizes in testing. Still in the prototype and patent phase but working hard to add to the EasyCare line during 2018. I'm excited about this one!   

The EasyShoe Flex is almost here. The Flex is in production and will be the next product in the EasyShoe product line. We ended up with several different options in the flexible, urethane shoe. Check out the video of Curtis Burns and I discussing the EasyShoe Flex and what makes the product unique.

Here is what you can expect in the EasyShoe Flex line.  

1.  Open Heel, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.

2.  Heart Bar, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.

3.  Full Heart Bar, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.  

4.  Flex Light: Heart Bar, no metal inside. 

Excited about these products and working hard to get them to our dealers and customers. 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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.

 

 

February Share Your Adventure Blog Contest: If It Was Easy It Wouldn't Be An Adventure.

Submitted by Easyboot user Joe Ford.

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with boots. Basically, I love to hate them. Smiling, happy people and “ever so enthusiastic” manufacturers make them sound super-duper. However, for those of us out here plodding along on our own, the learning curve is a bit steep. Lots of trial and lots of error.

Due to issues with farriers I finally started taking matters into my own hands and trimming my own horse. I haven't gotten to nails yet but I am getting decent with trims. After more laps around sandy Broxton, SC AERC ride barefoot than I care to admit, I decided that if I was going to expand my ride venues I needed to give hoof boots another go. After some trial and error I settled on the Easyboot Gloves. Mine were getting a bit ‘long in the tooth’ so I figured it was time for an upgrade.

Easyboot has come out with a couple new designs that are worth looking at. For Skymont, TN AERC, I went with a combination of home, “pieced together” boots and the 2016 rubber Glove gaiters. If you are familiar with the older neoprene gaiters, the new gaiters are much sturdier. Although the same basic design, my boots were assembled with some basic T nuts and pieces of dog collars for Power Straps. New gaiters and a pair of complete Glove boots from Distance Depot. One of the boots was actually a Glue-On shell left over from earlier experiments that didn't go so well, I am not great at gluing. Have you ever seen a horse running around with a boot glued to his tail?

Placing holes in the Glue-On shell are easily made with a soldering iron. One dog leash is about $10 and can make a bunch of power straps.

I am about 12 hours away from this ride so I arrived Wednesday afternoon for the Friday ride. I think this worked very well for us and will be my plan from now on. Just so much less stressful not having to cram in camp setup, vet check in, ride meeting, ride preparation all in one evening. Plus it is better for the horse. Sunny was happy pigging out all day.

Although the shells are the same ones that come on the 2016 Glove, the new stiffer gaiters are quite a bit harder to get on. I learned my lesson at an earlier ride about putting the boots on the night before instead of the morning of the race. I discovered at 4 am that it was going to be more difficult to get the 2016 Glove on while my horse was dancing around excited and wondering what all the commotion was about. For Skymont, I decided to boot the night before the ride. People leave the Glue-On shells on for multiple days and these boots are about the same thing. So figured couldn't hurt anything. I have to say this worked way better, horse was relaxed, I was relaxed, it wasn't dark and I was able to take my time.

A technique I picked up from a neighbor at Leatherwood, NC AERC ride involves wrapping the hoof a few times with cotton sport tape, then putting the boots on with a big rubber mallet. The heat from the hooves bleed through the tape and basically glue the boots on. I had been using CVS and Target store brand tape, figuring tape was tape, and that brand had serrated edges making it easy for my nerve damaged fingers to tear. Nope, not tape is created equal. EasyCare recommends Mueller brand. I haven't tried it yet but did end up with a roll of Johnson's “Coach” Sports tape. I now have a case of it. After the ride it was all I could do to get the boots off. I had to use an 8-inch pry bar I fabricated from a tack puller for just this issue.

The ride itself, consisted of gentle hills, over all about 2k feet of up, 2k feet of down, four pretty even loops. There was only a trot by and no hold after the first loop. Trails were a mix of single track trails, cross country non-trails in the woods, a bit of dirt roads and some pipeline clearings. One area I was glad to be on a 14.2 hand horse as there were some tunnels of tree branches to traverse. Last couple miles of last loop had some really nice green grass we took advantage of. Having dialed in foot gear, an in shape horse (both mentally and physically), and non-brutal weather and trail conditions, all contributed to this being my most enjoyable, relaxed ride ever. Trails weren't brutally rocky but I don't think I’d want to do a 50 mile barefoot. Probably wouldn't stress over trail riding barefoot there though. We were just off the “midpack” time and all and all had a great time at a great ride. Thank you EasyCare for your hoof protection. See you next year Skymont.

Easyboot Stratus - The New Standard in Equine Therapy Boots!

The Easyboot Stratus is in the warehouse and ready to ship!  We are excited about this unique design and feel it will help many horses.  

What makes the Easyboot Stratus unique?

1. The TheraPad is a patent pending design that is intended for therapy situations. The pad is made in a medium range durometer, has a fabric layer to wick moisture from the hoof, and incorporates a pattern of holes on the underside. The holes reduce the weight of the pad and allow the insertion of TheraRods. Although the TheraPad is molded to fit into the Easyboot Stratus and Easyboot Cloud, it can be cut to fit into other EasyCare boots. In addition, a large pad can be used without a boot to provide cushioning and comfort while trimming a sore horse.

2. TheraRods are used to add additional density to regions of the TheraPad. Although the majority of horses will find the density of the TheraPad perfect without the TheraRods, the rods can be added to increase the stiffness of the pad. TheraRods allow each TheraPad to be customized.

3. The internal heel sling locks down the heel and prevents twisting.

4. We chose leather for the upper after testing many different materials. Leather held up the best and conforms to the hoof and lower leg better.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford talk about why the Stratus is Unique.

Fitting the Stratus is easy. Measure for the correct size, fold the back of the boot out of the way, insert the hoof and tighten the strap system.  

 

Fitting the Stratus.  

EasyCare is excited to add the Stratus to our Therapy line. The Stratus is the premium counterpart to the Easyboot Cloud. Between the Stratus, the Cloud, the Easyboot Rx and the Easyboot Zip we have your therapy boot needs covered.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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.