What's Important?

2016 has been a tough year filled with a few bumps in the road and unexpected challenges.  It's been a year of reflection, a year that makes you look at what's important and a year that has helped separate the small stuff from the things that matter.  

Alyxx and Cyclone in 2007

One of the things I've always wanted to do was get our daughter engaged with horses. I want her to develop a relationship with a special horse, I've wanted her to have an outlet during her life, I've wanted her to be able to turn to her horse after a tough day at school, frustrating day at work or during a tough year.  I've wanted it for her but didn't want to push her toward the decision.  I've wanted so bad for her to want it.  I've wanted to share the passion and not push the passion.  

Alyxx and Toaster 2012

So here I am with too much to do at work, I'm behind trimming the horses, I'm behind at home, I feel like I've been playing catch up all year.  More than ever I need a couple weeks at home catching up and getting my head above water.  Then the moment I've been wanting, Alyxx called me on the way to school today and asked me if we could do her first endurance ride together this weekend on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  She knows I'm busy, knows Mom has a broken hip but said she really wanted to go.  

Alyxx and Tambre 2016

The answer is yes!  It's what I've wanted for her, it's what I've dreamed about for her.  Catching up at home and some of the items at work will need to wait.

It was a good lesson and time to ask myself some pointed questions.  Why are we doing this?  What is important?   

 

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.

Sound or Insensitive?

Submitted by David Landreville, Guest HCP

When I first started trimming I thought the goal was to have horses that could travel barefoot all day over rocks.  Since then I've realized that this is where ego comes in, and compassion goes out.

Another problem is that horse's hooves are adaptable to their environment, however, this can get them into trouble if they don't get enough daily movement and the environment they are in is not conducive to good feet.

Something that should be constantly considered about horses is that their feet grow at a rapid rate (roughly 1/16 inch every 4-5 days).  This isn't just the walls. The sole, bars (which are just continuations of the wall), and frog try to keep up with the rate of the wall.  Just like human fingernails and toenails, hoof walls are only live tissue until they grow past the peripheral edge of the sole (the specialized equivalent of human skin) where they lose moisture and feeling.  Rock hard hooves aren't necessarily a good sign.  A healthy sole is at least a half inch thick and relies on constant movement or simulated natural wear (proper trimming) to keep the wall and frog very close to the live sole plane.  A thick, healthy, live sole  can be identified by it's quality and appearance.  There will be concavity that measures at least a half inch deep from the peripheral edge of the sole at the quarters to the bottom of the collateral groves at the tip of a well defined frog.  The surface of the sole will be smooth like leather but not necessarily shiny like stone.  It will be void of lumps and bumps.  There may be a crackly texture directly under the coffin bone forward of the bars and surrounding the frog.  This is retained sole and can be between 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.  This is a good thing that adds comfort when it's managed properly.  It should feather out to nothing about half way from the bottom of the collateral grooves to the peripheral edge of the sole.  This should be a result of high mileage, proper trimming, or a combination of the two.  

Because of the conical shape of the hoof capsule, when the walls are are allowed to grow past the peripheral edge of the sole for long periods of time, the sole tries to migrate with it.  The problem is that the sole has a border and the wall doesn't.  This causes the sole to stretch and flatten under the horses weight.  This would draw more attention if the horse would just go lame every time this happened so we could all recognize a pattern and agree on the cause.  Horses have adapted to this problem over millions of years of evolution by accumulating, retaining, and producing an excess of the retained insensitive sole that I mentioned earlier.   In nature this would happen during the wet season when grass is abundant and the ground is softer.  It quickly gets worn away as it dries out and horses have to move more miles over more abrasive terrain in search of grass and water as it become more scarce.  This accumulation of retained sole keeps them sound enough to survive until it's worn back down.  If over-growth persists and is not managed naturally through wear or mechanically through proper trimming then the retained sole gets thicker as the live sole gets thinner.  Eventually there will be nothing but thick retained sole that the horse becomes reliant upon for soundness.  At this point if an attempt is made to rectify the hooves, the retained sole can exfoliate all at once exposing the true, thin, live sole.  Exfoliation is a natural response to growth equilibrium of the hoof structures...out with the old, in with the new.  It's just not meant to happen all at once after an extended period of overgrowth. 

Miles of daily wear, frequent proper trimming, or a combination can develop any foot to its true potential.  I believe that the horse's true potential hasn't even been seen yet.  I do know that with the recent advancements in rubber boots and shoes the standard has been raised considerably.  Rubber hoof wear not only protects, but it helps build the horse (and saves the legs) and the highly regenerative structures of their hooves.

When people see photos of the feet that I've developed over years of simulated wear,  they often ask, "yeah, but is she sound all day on rocks?" My answer is, " I ride in boots so they are improving with every step."

We Find Out "Sibbald Flats" Is Not At All Flat

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

As part of our conditioning effort in working towards getting back on the CTR circuit this year, I joined a friend in an adventure to explore new trails at the base of the Rocky Mountains west of Calgary, Alberta. We loaded up early and arrived at the trail head at 10am on a Sunday only to find we were probably the last people to arrive; I guess we need to learn to get up earlier! After squeezing our trailers into the already cramped parking area, we unloaded, tacked up and wasted no time getting our adventure underway.

We were in an area called Sibbald Flats which I believe is named after the small meadow between the steep inclines that only takes about 4 minutes to ride across; don't be fooled, this area is hardly flat at all. We did spend the first hour or so on relatively flat ground but it turned out we had lost the trail and had to back track to find it. 

Once we got on the right track it was up, up, up with some lovely views on the ridge and then we went down, down, down. 

My boot of choice is a toss up between the Easyboot Epics and the Easyboot Gloves. The Gloves work great for us right up until just before my mare is ready for another trim, which was the case on this day.  The Gloves weren't going to be an option for us this day because Marina's feet were a bit too grown out, so on went the Epics which were easily adjusted to fit the size of her hoof and they stayed put all day. 

The upper elevations of the trail were rocky as expected but we really did cover all types of terrain on this day. When we got really lost we found our way by backtracking on the gravel road as well as riding the standard mountain trails which consist of meadows, rivers, mud, bog and of course we went up and down a mountain.

Although my mare, Marina, has great hooves, she benefits GREATLY from Easyboot hoof protection. She strides out wonderfully, canters up the rocky slopes, navigates the sliding shale and in general never puts a foot wrong or lacks confidence in her way of going. Being barefoot while at rest and sometimes while under saddle really does mean the healthiest hoof for this mare. With that in mind, we would never be able to tackle tough mountain trails without our Easyboots and are so grateful for the vast variety EasyCare has to offer and the reliable protection I can have confidence in when my mare has them underfoot. 

This Team Easyboot member is signing off for now in search of more adventures and stories to tell!

Flip Flop Forgiveness

Submitted by Mari Ural, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Even if your horse doesn't have the perfect foot, give the Easyboot Flip Flops a chance.  Especially for those people who want to go barefoot, but feel they can't, Flip Flops are the perfect solution.

Heart's feet do not have the perfect shape for Glue-Ons or Gloves.  He does use them with help from a power strap, tape and extra glue because the shells tend to get a gap at the "v".  His foot just seems to be narrower towards the coronet band than at the base, although the trim looks great.

We decided to give the Flip Flops a whirl.  Knowing there would be some gapping we simply stuffed more glue into the gap.  It has worked out great.  He's been out in sand, rocks, gravel and even some nice footing!  He's quite happy in his Flip Flops.  He strides out and the Flip Flops are totally secure.  The best part is that nothing collects in them.  After the ride, there is no debris stuck inside the Flip Flops, they are clean as a whistle.  When we were in mud, some did squish into the boot.  However, when it dried it came right out again.

For those folks who wish to leave them on for a full trim cycle they are perfect.  All the fresh air any hoof could want. Thank you, EasyCare.

 

 

New Beginnings with EasyCare

My name is Jordan and I have recently joined the EasyCare team. I graduated in December 2015 from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor's in Animal Science. My desire with this new degree was to work in a career where I can improve relationships between animals and their people. This brought me to EasyCare where I get the best fit for me by being able to assist fellow horse enthusiasts to have the best riding experience they can by providing ideal hoof support and function through barefoot trimming and booting.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I was raised in Durango, Colorado and as soon as I was done with my college education I moved back immediately. I have been working around horses for most of my life. I have been involved in 4H, pony club, horse judging team, and showing with local associations. When I couldn’t ride horses I was doing everything I could to be at the barn and work around them. In school I took hands on classes to continue learning and being around them.

At New Mexico State University I had many educational classes that pertained to lower leg structure and function of a horse. I had heard of barefoot trimming but had never personally experienced anything other than steel shoes. Knowing how the foot functions best made me realize how much steel shoes inhibit that function. EasyCare has opened my eyes to the benefits of barefoot trimming and hoof boots. I am ready to spread the word and help others see the benefits of this style of hoof care.

I am making the first steps towards getting my new project horse, Pistol, barefoot ready. I don't want to simply be an employee here. I truly believe in the product we provide the equestrian world. I want to stand by it and stand in it, proving that EasyCare is all that we claim it to be. I look forward to helping others find what is best for their horse to give them happy, healthy mounts to enjoy for years to come.

Stories of the Heart

Submitted by Mari Ural, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Today I thought I'd share stories of the heart, Heart the horse that is, who is a 17 year old Arab.  He was found in a Colorado pasture that had no grass, so as you can imagine, he was pretty emaciated.  His shoes had been left on him so long that some had simply fallen off.  This was back in 2009.  Poor Mr. Heart vowed he would never go hungry again!  Eating is now his MOST favorite thing to do.

At first, he was trimmed and shod.  In 2010 he moved on to barefoot and booted.  The trick was lowering those heels so his Easyboot Gloves were comfortable.  He is not a heel first landing type of fellow.  He lands quite flat.  I'm guessing that is why it took awhile to get away from the heel contraction even after going barefoot.  Six years later, the frogs are better but not the full frog we like to see.

He is always turned out, though the ground is fairly soft, and he has always stayed sound, though trotting on a gravelly hard pack road is not comfortable for him even when in boots.  He lets you know by shortening his stride until he hits nicer footing.  This winter his front feet started to really flare.

My pictures of the "before" unfortunately didn't turn out, but believe me, the front feet were paddles.  St George trimmer, J.B. Rex, worked on them, bringing them back to the point that they looked like horse feet.  He removed a good deal of old sole that had built up.  The plan is to keep the toe rolled enough that we'll get away from the slight flare that still exists and maybe it will grow out.  He's always had a slight flare on his front feet, so boots aren't as flush at the top as desired.  Power Straps and Mueller's tape have handled that problem for Gloves and a little extra time holding down the "V" with Adhere has worked for the Glue-Ons.  It would be really nice to be able to get rid of the flare and see a better frog, so any other ideas would be great.

The pictures attached are of his current trim.

 

My First Easyboot Blog: You Gotta Start Somewhere

Submitted by Lesley Dewar, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Since being selected to join Team Easyboot over a month ago, procrastination set in.  Procrastination about writing this blog.  Not because I don't love the product, and not because I'm not an extroverted person, but procrastination because I'm officially declaring to the world that yes, I don't nail metal shoes on my horse and yes, I'm risking getting labeled with the label of “one of those barefoot weirdos”.  I've booted for many years, just secretly.  I've never told any of my farriers over the years that I secretly boot my horses and rarely ride in an arena, hence the reason for no metal shoes.  The reason being that very little people in my area boot their horses. In fact, very little people in our local horse community know what a horse boot is, let alone that it can literally make sore horses ride-able.  
I decided that it was the time to take action, if I was going to do this, be labeled as a weird person who puts boots on her horses, then I had best recruit support. One of my good friends had been curious about the boots for quite some time, so I decided to ask her if this was something she would be interested in trying.  To my relief, she was very excited about the endeavor and gladly brought her horse over to have me measure and look at different options for her.  I decided to pull out some boots in my collection, it is quite easy to see what my favorites are from the picture!  

We tied her horse, Romeo, up and got to work measuring. Now I'm no expert, but I like to save a little money here and there, especially when one of my horses just goes out on trails the odd time. Thankfully Romeo was just about to be trimmed, so we were able to measure him with his feet at his biggest.  The next day the farrier trimmed his feet and I stopped in to remeasure.  With both measurements, we were able to pick a boot that would fit him through his trim cycle, without having to buy two sets.  We ordered some pads to go with his new boots for use when he is just newly trimmed to make it a little comfier for him and if his hooves grow too much before the next trim they can be removed from the boot for a little extra room. Lastly, I taught Romeo how to help me pull off the boots.  I teach all my horses to pull against my pressure when removing the boots as it makes it easier for me to get off when they help.  I also find it makes them more comfortable with the booting process.  

 

So there you have it, I've broken my silence, and feel a lot happier for it.  You never know who is looking at your boots with questions but for whatever reason never asks about them.  I hope you too can help me break the taboo around these boots and get more people enjoying their horses!  
I look forward to my next blog installment next month, where I'm taking my super fun highland pony with giant feet (size #9) on a big overnight camping trail ride.  I'm hoping that her new snazzy New Macs will be here in time and I'll give them the swimming test as she loves to swim.  Keep your fingers crossed for Canada Post! 

PHCP Conference 2016: Packed Full of Gold

Several months ago I saw an event post on Facebook regarding the 2016 Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners Conference in San Diego, CA. When the event information came across my news feed, I felt compelled to attend. The lineup of speakers looked phenomenal featuring Dr. Deb Taylor, Dr. Hilary Clayton, nutritionist Carol Layton, Garrett Ford of EasyCare, and more.  The venue was set to be top notch, in sunny San Diego and located in large part at the beautiful Arroyo Del Mar, training facility of Shannon and Steffen Peters.  

Top that off with the opportunity to visit with friends and colleagues, this conference was too good to pass up.

This educational event was a hoof care provider's dream. I was incredibly impressed with how smoothly the conference ran, and how lovely San Diego is this time of year.

I was also impressed with the diversity of attendees. Veterinarians, barefoot trimmers, farriers, body workers and more. The information presented was diverse in subject matter, and valuable not only for my own personal knowledge, but also gave me a broader understanding on several topics that will directly help me help my clients' horses as well. Here are a few of the gold nuggets I took home.

Among many wonderful topics, Dr. Deb Taylor discussed negative palmar P3 angles and brought with her 3D-printed digital cushions. Note the difference between the digital cushion on the left, lacking mass and substance, and the digital cushion on the right, which is more robust. It was a fantastic way to fully visualize how important the mass of the digital cushion is to the foot of the horse. If my horse's foot had the digital cushion of the model on the left I'd have a lot to worry about. A robust digital cushion is critical to a healthy palmar P3 angle and straight hoof pastern axis.

Dr. Hilary Clayton discussed several interesting topics, one of which was "Biomechanics of the Hoof-Ground Interaction". There were two statements she made that stood out to me in particular.

If the Reaction Force vector does not pass through the center of rotation of the joint it creates a torque around the joint that the soft tissue has to oppose'. Dr Hillary Clayton, PHCP Conference 2016.

This statement brings home the importance of a balanced trim and how a thorough understanding of anatomy and locomotion for the hoof care provider is critical to the health and soundness of the horse. 

'The Distal Interphalangeal Joint is largely responsible for accommodating irregularities in terrain or farriery but not day after day, step after step'. Dr. Hillary Clayton, PHCP Conference 2016. 

This statement by Dr. Clayton highlights our responsibility as hoof care providers to respect the living tissue of the horse, and to remember how our work significantly impacts not only the soundness of our animals today, but long into the future.

Garrett Ford's demonstration of some of the latest and greatest glue-on composite shoe options for horses was enlightening. Any one of us can take a boot or shoe and apply it with success to the foot, but the benefit of watching an expert like Garrett apply a specific product can take a good application by any one of us and make it great. It's the small details that make the difference. I appreciated watching his shoe selection when applying the new Flip Flop, especially how he adjusted the back of the shoe for appropriate fit with a buffy. It was also helpful to watch how he applied the Glu-U Shufill packing to the front half of the foot, leaving the back half open so dirt and debris wouldn't get under the front of the shoe, but could still easily fall out of the back.  

Carol Layton discussed nutrition for the horse and diet, especially as it relates to Insulin Resistance and PPID.  

'Horses are designed to be trickle feeders, the worst thing we can do is feed them sporadically' Carol Layton, PHCP Conference 2016.

She showed us photos and video of the micro-organisms with their anatomical parts, searching and eating, living their life in the horse's gut. It was fascinating, and highlighted the importance of having the right micro-organisms in the digestive tract of the horse. Especially as it relates to the insulin resistant horse being on a "diet". Commonly, these horses are on calorie-restricted diets, which means they don't eat all day long. She emphasized the importance of using an appropriately low ESC + starch forage fed at a rate of 1.5% of the horse's body weight per day in a slow feeder net so they nibble constantly. 

There are too many gold nuggets of information to highlight them all here. I encourage you to consider attending the next PHCP Conference in 2018. 

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

The Easyboot Mini: Available Friday, April 1, 2016

You spoke, EasyCare listened. The miniature horse and small pony world will soon have dependable hoof protection that still delivers the benefits of being barefoot. Meet the Easyboot Mini. The smallest production hoof boots in the world go on sale on Friday, April 1, 2016.

The Easyboot Mini is the most durable tiny boot on the market today and utilizes EasyCare’s most successful tread pattern made famous by the best-selling Easyboot Glove. Its urethane sole provides excellent traction that has proven in testing to hold up on any terrain, from pavement to rocky trail to kitchen tile. The boot is simple in nature but secure to the hoof when fitted correctly. No strength or hand dexterity needed: the boot fastens using a robust, industrial-style hook and loop system at the front of the pastern.

Need another reason to own an Easyboot Mini? When you purchase them, you also get a jar to store you horse treats.

To determine the correct size for the Easyboot Mini, measure the width and length of your pony’s hoof following a fresh trim. The width is the widest point across; the length is the line from the toe to the buttress line. For more detailed information, visit out Measuring Instructions page. Next, compare the hoof dimensions to the size chart below. 

If you have questions about the Easyboot Mini or would like assistance with sizing, please contact us our customer service team at 800-447-8836. EasyCare is excited to provide the little-horse community with the most advanced natural hoof care protection available today. The boots will be available for purchase online and by telephone starting Friday, April 1, 2016.

For more photos information about the Easyboot Mini's evolution, see my last blog.

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.

Cloud Boots to the Rescue

Submitted by Sue Basham, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Every January I am out of town for three weeks of work. During this time my horses get to experience Wyoming winter as "wild horses." They are turned out to fend for themselves, with plenty of grass hay, but no TLC. My neighbors check on them and my husband watches over them when he is home. Every year a bad storm blows in and they get to hunker down and contemplate how much better life is when they can go in the barn. Never-the-less they always survive and forgive me.

This year I returned to find my chestnut Arab mare, Tayyara, walking cautiously and uncharacteristically avoiding the other mares. It was apparent that her feet hurt. Was this a symptom of bruising due to the hard frozen ground? Had she gotten into the feed room and helped herself? Did the bad weather limit her exercise yet increase her "healthy" appetite? Its hard to know what's happened when you've been gone so long. After bringing her in the barn I noticed her already robust figure was heavier than when I left and her neck seemed a bit cresty as well. My diagnosis was a touch of laminitis coupled with hard winter footing.

My first thought was to get her in some Easyboot Gloves with Comfort Pads to give her some cushioned relief. I dug around in my supplies and came up with one size too big Gloves and some original soft 6mm pads. Wearing the padded Gloves she moved better but still tentatively. Barefoot at night in her well bedded stall and Gloves during the day during turnout seemed to be helping. We followed this routine for four days while waiting on her new Cloud boots to arrive. 

Admittedly, this winter Tayyara's hooves had gotten a little flared so I went to work on trimming them. I was a bit more aggressive than usual as I knew she would have the Cloud boots to protect her hooves. She sure gave them the once over as if to say "what are these new boots on my feet?"

I led her outside into the decomposed granite paddock she shares with the other mares and turned her loose. The Cloud literature says they are good for light turnout so I felt comfortable just letting her go.  Wow! She took a few walking steps then exploded into a big rollicking trot complete with some snorts and bucks for good measure! 

Look at that stride! She just threw that hoof out there and the boots stayed perfectly in place.

Her feet must feel so much better in the Clouds. I'm very grateful to EasyCare for making this amazing therapy boot. Increasing her comfort level will in turn increase her movement which we all know is important to horses. Makes me happy to see Tayyara feeling so good and moving like her old self again! Hopefully in a few weeks her hooves will be back to normal and she can go out barefoot again but in the meantime, the Clouds are giving her the protection and comfort she needs.