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.

 

Glue-On Without Glue: Part One

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Jordan Junkermann

I am sure each Easyboot user out there has endless stories, good and bad, about booting. Applying boots each time you go out to ride can be troublesome, especially if you have some of the tight-fitting boot styles such as the Easyboot Glove or Easyboot Epic. Many of us have just adapted to it, making it part of our saddling routine. Others go barefoot as much as possible and only use the boots on rare occasions. For those who want a longer hoof protection, gluing on products is a great option. We have a wide variety of EasyShoes to serve multiple hoof shapes and purposes as well as the Easyboot Glue-On and Love Child. However, if you don’t have access to a hoof care practitioner or if you don’t have experience with preparing the hoof for glue, using this method can be more hassle then temporarily booting. There are customers out there who have learned to modify our products to fulfill their specific needs. In this blog, I am going to talk about my experiences with modifying the Easyboot Glue-On using Mueller tape.

As the manufacturer, we prefer to stick to strict guidelines on how boots and shoes are used in order to get the best results. But as customers provide feed back on personal experiences, we are able to pass that information along. One of these modifications I have decided to try on my horses. I wanted to be able to say I have seen this method work successfully with my own eyes. Of course, this isn’t an EasyCare recommended modification but it is something that has been successful in a few cases with our customers and I have personally seen success up to this point.

In some instances, you want below the hair line contact you get out of a Glue-On product but you don’t want to actually glue it on. An example could be a two or three-day event, a barrel race, a trail ride, or an event that requires hoof protection below the hairline (dressage/jumping). The design will prevent any rubbing from occurring since it sits below the hair line. A boot would provide protection in this service but let’s just say you don’t want to use a boot in this situation.

If your horse’s hoof fits within the measurement of the Easyboot Glue-On you may want to give this experiment a shot. What you will need are a few items: two Easyboot Glue-On shells, Mueller tape, a hoof pick, and a mallet.

I started by cleaning out my horse’s hoof.

I then applied Mueller tape as shown in this Application of Mueller tape video.

This tape has been proven successful to create a suction with the Easyboot Glove which is the Glue-On with a Gaiter allowing it to become a boot.

Here I took the Glue-On shell and placed her toe into the shell and make sure to line it up straight. I pulled and wiggled the shell on as much as I could.

Next, I took the mallet and tapped the shell on at the toe and again on the sole to make sure the foot was seated squarely in the shell. I set the foot down to make sure the “V” was spread correctly and the boot looked snug.

With the colored shells in the pictures above you are able to see the process clearly. It turned out that those were a half size too small for Pistol at this point in her trimming cycle. There is clearly bulging at the sides of the shells. I did end up taking her out on the trail and I experienced no problems with the shells coming off. However, I ended up ordering the next half size up and have posted those pictures below. You can see a much more comfortable fit in the proper fitting shell. With those shells I applied them the night before the trail ride and didn’t worry about them coming off even once during my trail ride.

Although it is only February, it is already time for the barrel racing season to begin. Southern Colorado has had dry weather up to this point so it made it an easy choice for me to decide if I wanted to run in this first race. In the first full week in February there was still hardly any snow anywhere. This made conditioning and preparing my barrel horse Billie the week before more enjoyable. She is barefoot for the winter but she has been experiencing some tenderness. I had been keeping her in the Easyboot Clouds so that she could comfortably move around the paddock. I rode her the week prior barefoot in the pasture so she wouldn’t have to move out on hard ground. But I did want to make sure she had protection for the barrel race as the area outside the arena is all gravel.

The day of the race came and, luckily, my Easyboot Glue-On shells and Mueller tape arrived the day before. Before loading her up I applied the shells to her front feet with Mueller tape using the method described above. My original plan was to boot all four feet, but in all best laid plans not all follow through to completion. The size shells I was going to use on her hind feet ended up fitting better on her front feet. Sizing is definitely trial and error with this snug fitting boot. I ended up only booting the front feet. I loaded her up and away we went.

Both front feet.

Side view.

Frontal view. The above three pictures were taken by EasyCare Product Specialist, Devan Mills (iPhone 8).

Before getting on after tacking up I made sure to take a mallet to the toe area one more time for good measure. I walked and trotted her for a while to allow her to warm up slowly and in hopes of heating the foot up to allow for better traction between tape and boot before my run.

My run was a success. She felt like she had good traction in the arena and the Glue-Ons stayed on no problem! It was probably the smoothest run I have had on her, especially at the start of a season. It was a great start to the year! Don't be afraid to get creative and make modifications to make the boots work for you. We would love to hear your stories about how your boots are working for you, whether you try this method or another. You can click here to tell us your booting story!

Sister, the Mule, and her Boots.

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner, Eric Knapp.

A journey of 130 miles starts with the first step and a good pair of hoof boots. Each year I take a horseback journey, with a group of friends, from Central Illinois to a rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa. The trek usually takes us about five and a half days to complete and includes crossing the Mississippi river. Needless to say, whatever animal I’m riding, takes a whole lot of steps from start to finish. For the past two years I’ve taken my wife’s mule, Sister. Yes, that’s the name she came with. You know what they say, “bad luck to change the name.”

I know that mules have gotten a bad wrap over the years about not being able to keep their boots on. I’ve never had any problems with mine staying put. In fact, this year I put her EasyCare Glue-On boots on a week before we left and they stayed on for about six weeks. You know what they say about cobbler’s kids not having shoes to wear? Well farrier’s horses are the last to be trimmed. I don’t typically leave them on that long, but I just didn’t have the time to remove them. When I did take them off, they were still on good and tight.

Being a mule and having a mule hoof, doesn’t mean that they can’t wear boots. Nor does it mean that those boots can’t be glued on and stay put. I really think the magic lies in the prep work. Whether you’re painting a car or painting glue on a mule’s foot, it all starts with the prep work. I believe in prep work so much so that I don’t use (or let my clients use) fly spray for 24 hours before I glue on a boot. The oils from that spray will run down onto the hoof and it won’t allow for a proper seal. I also need to have a clean, dry hoof. If an animal has been standing in mud and slop, that glue will not stick. But with a dry, clean, properly trimmed hoof even a mule can walk over 100 miles in an Easyboot Glue-On.

I rough up the hoof with my rasp and put a little Sikaflex in the bottom for a bit of cushion. I also run a line of Vettec glue around the outer edge for a good tight seal. I wouldn’t take that Iowa ride if I didn’t have a boot on my animal. The blacktop road is just too slick with a traditional metal shoe. Throw in some rainy days and it’s a recipe for disaster. The boots also keep road debris out of Sister’s feet. You would be amazed at what people will throw in a ditch and you don’t want to walk over that barefoot, no matter how hard the sole. Before you say it, I can hear what you’re thinking. “Well, sure. You only traveled on a flat road. You didn’t have any rugged terrain.” Got you covered.

We have also taken Sister to Shawnee National Park for several week long riding vacations. If you’ve never been to Shawnee, it’s one of the most scenic rides in the world. Sister has been there in both hot, humid summer weather and in brisk fall weather. Her boots do fine either way. She’s worn both the EasyCare Glove boots and the EasyCare Glue-On boots there. She’s also gone barefoot. She has good, strong feet and she does just fine on the rocks. Shawnee has very rugged, steep, rocky terrain. We were also there after several days of rain so it had some incredibly boggy areas. I was a little nervous about going through some of the bogs because I was afraid the animals could pull a muscle. But, in some spots, there was just no other way around. We had to go through and the boots did just fine. We took a couple of seven hour rides and several shorter ones while we were in Shawnee and we left with those glue on boots still in place. On one particular day, we were temporarily misplaced. Otherwise known as lost. We ended up walking in some non-horse areas that were nothing but large rocks and boulders. Through all of those twists and turns, she did just fine. Like I said, I don’t think Sister being a mule makes a difference with boots. The difference comes in the proper trim, fit, and prep work. If you don’t have that, don’t use boots because you aren’t giving them a fair shake. You’re just setting them up to fail.

But it’s not all about the boot. Sister walked a lot of miles through Shawnee and many other state parks barefoot. We have a paddock paradise at home and she does a lot of walking on small rocks, lime, and dirt. In addition to providing better digestion of her food, I think this really helps to toughen up her feet and get her physically conditioned. With proper nutrition, environment and trimming, I think nearly any horse can go barefoot. However not all horse hooves will have the same toughness and durability as a good ol’ mule hoof. So, I wouldn’t recommend going to Shawnee or anywhere else without carrying some “just in case” boots. I never leave home without a back-up pair of boots. I have a bag that ties on to my saddle that I use to store them in. EasyCare also has the Hoof Boot Stowaway that works well for carrying boots. You just never know what’s going to happen on a trail and you need to be responsible for your animal. Whether on the road or on a trail, Sister has walked all over Illinois and Iowa. She’s done it barefoot, in EasyCare Gloves and with EasyCare Glue-On boots. She’s never given us a misstep and I would love to ride that mule in her boots from Texas to Canada. For some reason, my wife doesn’t want to do that. I can’t imagine why. But if that day ever comes, I have no doubt that the mule and the boots will do just fine not matter what the terrain.  

Equine Therapy Boots: Why Leather?

EasyCare has been working on robust version of an equine therapy boot. A boot that will last much longer and hold up to the daily punishment that a therapy boot may go through when on a laminitic horse: the constant use, the twisting, the horse getting up and down, the routine washing. After testing many materials we found that a high grade leather tested the best.

The Easyboot Stratus will have a leather upper.

Why did we choose leather? One of the tests that brought us to leather was a horse named "Chubby". Chubby was a tough founder case that Curtis Burns helped with over a 18 month period. Chubby was in boots 24/7 and needed the support and comfort therapy boots offered. Boots were worn for a day and then removed, washed and set out to dry. Another pair was used for a day while the first pair dried. Boots were used everyday for 6 months.  

One of the boots Chubby used was leather up front and tough Cordura in the back. We quickly saw a difference in the leather. The leather formed to the hoof, held up and didn't fray. Take a look at the photos below and see why we chose leather for the new Easyboot Stratus. 

Front is leather. Back is high end Cordura Fabric.  

Leather held up very well and took on pleats to form to the hoof.

The Cordura was no match for the leather. Same boot, same wear, different results.

We are excited about the new Easyboot Stratus: a better equine therapy boot, leather upper, TheraPad, TheraRods and an internal heel sling to prevent twisting and heel lift. The Stratus will be ready to ship on March 1st.

 

 

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.